Henley Bridge to Bridge Swim by Charlotte Orrell

Henley Bridge to Bridge Swim by Charlotte Orrell

As a member of the Graduate Charity Committee at Savills I spend a lot of time asking my colleagues to take part in charitable events and to support our fundraising efforts for Dreams Come True. As such, it only seemed right that I set aside some time to train and compete in a number of fundraising activities to personally raise money for the charity.

Those who know me will realise I like to set myself quite a challenge. At the beginning of the year I looked into a number of sporting challenges which would push myself beyond my comfort levels and encourage people to sponsor me. After some research (and perhaps a moment of madness) I signed up to the following sporting feats:  

The biggest challenge so far has certainly been the Henley Bridge to Bridge Swim. A 14.1km swim in the Thames from Henley-on-Thames to Marlow. I’m a member of a rowing club and spent last year training and competing at a high level. Consequently, I was very reliant on my rowing fitness taking me down the river! I spent numerous evenings at Putney Leisure Centre getting used to the water again and my open water swim in the Victoria Docks highlighted how difficult the swim was going to be.


The day started at 5am, driving to Henley in time to register for the event before setting off at 8am with 300 others down the river. As a rower, swimming down the Henley Regatta Course provided a new perspective to what seemed like a relatively short distance in a boat – how wrong I was! On average there was a feed station every 3-4km and these became a very welcomed rest and refuelling opportunity before jumping back into the water.

It was a beautiful day, and while the spectators enjoyed the sunshine and warm temperatures, half way through the event my stomach started to feel the affects of the numerous pleasure boats making the most of the weather. Swimming with motion sickness proved extremely difficult and was by far the toughest part of the event (even more so than the monotony of the whole swim) and curtained slowed me right down. A couple of hours later, the motion sickness had passed and I was able to attempt a ‘sprint finish’ to Marlow Bridge.

I completed the swim in just over 5 hours and I’ve never been so happy to be back on dry land. A bottle of coke (to kill the germs) and some afternoon tea in the sunshine soon revived my body.  

I’m now looking ahead to the next challenge, the Three Peaks. Around 45 people in Savills are looking to take part in this event and as the organiser, I inadvertently have to take part myself! After the swim this event no longer seems quite so daunting, but I may regret saying that come the 20th hour looking up at Snowdon...


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Author: Hannah Attenburrow

Date: 01/09/2015

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