Elaine Burrows Dillane, Aisling Brosnan, Caroline Corkery and Sandra Martin completed a successful relay swim of the 33km long English Channel from Dover to Calais in a time of 14hrs and 10 minutes.
It’s a case of mission accomplished for four Kerry swimmers who have turned a dream into a reality in recent days as they successfully completed a relay swim across the 33-kilometre-long English Channel.
Elaine Burrows Dillane, Aisling Brosnan, Caroline Corkery and Sandra Martin – or the Fenit Funky Femmes as they are known collectively – set off from Dover at 11pm Monday and took it in turns swimming all the way across the 20.5 mile (33km) stretch of water, reaching Calais just over 14 hours later. Their official time clocked in at 14 hours and 10 minutes.
It’s an amazing accomplishment for all four ladies, in particular for Aisling, Caroline and Sandra as it marks the first time that all three had ever swam the Channel, and as if this wasn’t remarkable enough on its own, it comes just three years after Caroline first learned to swim back in 2019.
It was the not the first time Elaine had crossed the channel, of course. She famously swam it solo back in 2019, but as amazing as that achievement was, and in spite of all the remarkable things she has accomplished as a swimmer, she told The Kerryman that crossing the Channel with Aisling, Sandra and Caroline ranks highly among her greatest achievements.
“I think we’re feeling everything all rolled into one, to be honest with you. We’re slightly sunburnt and just ecstatic at what we’ve done, but I think we’re all mentally tired as well,” said Elaine, who was accompanied by the other swimmers while taking the phone call as they all made their way home from Dover.
“You have to keep it all together and, as much and all as you’re having a good day, you’re mentally focused all the time and I think that, because of that, today, we feel mentally tired more than anything but, without a doubt, sharing this experience with a team makes it all the more special,” she said.
Elaine said that there were a few things that she had to get used to when swimming as part of a relay team.
“Because there was four of us, you’re not just thinking about yourself in the water, you’re also worried about the other girls that are out there and you’re worried about the girls that have just come out of the water. We were all just looking after one another by getting each other dressed, feeding each other and making sure that everybody is doing everything that they’re supposed to be doing,” she said.
“Generally, when I’m doing a solo swim, you’d have a team with youm but you’re the one in the water swimming and they’re in the boat telling you what to do, whereas when you’re doing it with a team like I did with Aisling, Caroline and Sandra, it’s a team effort all the way. It’s just fabulous, so, so fabulous. To share the achievement with these ladies is just so special,” she added.
For Caroline, it’s been a long road to here from when she first decided, three years ago, that she wanted to swim, and even she admitted that crossing the Channel was something she could not have imagined doing back then.
“I never thought I’d be doing a relay swim of the English Channel, let me tell you that, all I ever wanted to do was to learn how to swim!” she laughed.
As for the future of the Fenit Funky Femmes, the ladies said that they’ve nothing in mind yet – apart from a few celebratory drinks, of course – but that doesn’t mean they won’t come up with some new challenge to tackle together.
“We’ll get our heads down and we’ll think of something, I’m sure,” said Caroline.