St Albans Sirens overcome seasickness to complete charity Channel swim

The St Albans Sirens swam the English Channel in 12 hours and 20 minutes.

The St Albans Sirens swam the English Channel in 12 hours and 20 minutes. - Credit: St Albans Sirens

Four St Albans women overcame seasickness, hallucinations and jellyfish stings to complete a relay swim of the English Channel for charity.

The team, dubbed the St Albans Sirens and made up of Saleema Adamson, Allie Park-Crowne, Leanne Sheldon and Tamsyn Clark, raised more than £4,000 for Surfers Against Sewage, a grassroots movement set up to tackle plastic pollution and protect the UK's coastlines.

Despite three of the four suffering from terrible sea sickness, they completed the crossing in 12 hours and 20 minutes, and have already raised 800 per cent of their original £500 target.

The St Albans Sirens swam the English Channel in 12 hours and 20 minutes.

The St Albans Sirens swam the English Channel in 12 hours and 20 minutes. - Credit: St Albans Sirens

Their training largely took place at Nuffield Sports Centre and St Albans Sub Aqua Club, but some of the women trained in paddling pools because in January everywhere was closed due to lockdown, forcing them to pick ice from the top of the pool. 

Allie said: "We are all passionate about the environment as we love swimming in the sea and sealife. We chose to support Surfers Against Sewage as we are all passionate about taking care of the world we live in. We are concerned about the state of our oceans and the future of the wildlife living in them, and during the swim we saw seals and porpoises, and the jellyfish definitely found us as most us were stung during the crossing.

"The actual day was terrible. We had fantastic weather but the seasickness was difficult. The sea was really bumpy, and we were assured ‘Don’t worry this is just the sea breaking of the harbour walls, it will calm down’.

"Five minutes later Tamsyn is getting ready to start the swim and puking overboard, five minutes after that, there are two of us puking overboard! The swimming bit was quite simple, we had all done some marathon swims this year so the swim fitness was not a challenge for us, but the mental challenge and battling seasickness made this the hardest thing I’ve ever done.

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"Imagine having norovirus, but then having to jump off a boat into the pitch darkness in the early hours one Sunday morning to swim in the Channel, whilst throwing up overboard one minute beforehand. That was pretty much the feeling of the day.

"Twelve hours and 20 minutes of living hell, feeling sicker than I ever have in my life but equally one of the most epic experiences and one I will never forget!"

The St Albans Sirens swam the English Channel in 12 hours and 20 minutes.

The St Albans Sirens swam the English Channel in 12 hours and 20 minutes. - Credit: St Albans Sirens

Tamsyn explained: "The swim was the easy part. Mentally this pushed us to the limit with the fear of letting the team down motivating us to ‘just keep swimming’ in spite of seasickness, hallucinations and jellyfish stings."

Saleema added: "Our oceans are the victims of our mindless over consumption and obsession with plastic. I want my daughter to grow up and enjoy the sea for all its glory and raising money for SAS was a small part I could play in helping achieve this. I wanted to do the crossing for the adventure, the friendship, the dedication to training, and to learn a bit more about myself and what I am capable of.

"I am beyond proud of our team. From the training we all put in, the hours spent away from our families, the support for each other and not to forget the extreme sea sickness battled on the day that would have seen most people give up."

Josh Harris, from Surfers Against Sewage, said: “The efforts of the St Albans Sirens, who swam the channel to help raise money for our Ocean Activism campaign, is truly inspiring – thanks Allie, Saleema, Tamsyn and Leanne!”

The St Albans Sirens swam the English Channel in 12 hours and 20 minutes.

The St Albans Sirens swam the English Channel in 12 hours and 20 minutes. - Credit: St Albans Sirens

The SAS movement was founded as a response by the surfing community to the dreadful state of our beaches, and as a result of their efforts the UK now enjoys some of the cleanest beaches in Europe.

The St Albans Sirens were supported by St Albans business Rachael Partis Designs who drew up the designs for their logo and also Stomp the Pedal, who designed and provided their swim costumes and hoodies. 


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