Zoggs Swim Diaries - Taking on the Henley Swim Festival 2020

The Zoggs Swim Diaries series aim to celebrate those undertaking a personal challenge or complete something to inspire us all. Mel Berry a swim coach and co-founder of HerSpirit takes us through her adventure of Henley Swim Festival 2020..

Henley Swim Festival 4 x 1 mile Her Spirit adventure = 2 medals,

You can’t beat getting back into open water swimming events to give you a sense of purpose and focus again. Thanks to Zoggs, Team Her Spirit rose to the challenge and entered the 4 x 1 mile event as part of the Henley Swim Festival. I mean why not do it four times rather than just once!

Our team consisted of myself Mel Berry and my co-founder at Her Spirit, Holly Woodford and our love of adventure and getting our first 2020 medal! With so many events being cancelled due to COVID this was our first event and so didn’t take much persuading to take part over the August bank holiday. But what happened to the sunshine?


Due to the weather and water temperature being under 16 degrees…. We opted to swim in our wetsuits but tucked under them were our trusty Wonder Woman and Batman suits! and of course our Zoggs/Her Spirit swim caps under our gold event caps. Today’s goggle choice was Predator’s for Holly and Fusion Air for myself.


They say preparation is everything …. Haha I think we failed at first base on that due to COVID19 and Benjamin Franklin said “By failing to prepare you are preparing to fail” but this event is not about being the fastest but more the ability to enjoy going up and down the Thames by foot and water four times.

Challenging yourself is something we both love and having never done this event or anything like this format, it was a great challenge to take on. Coupled with the fact that we needed to take everything with us, we needed to get a new tow float, that could carry our food, drink, shoes and trusty GoPro to capture the event as well as our car key! I was only slightly worried I would lose the key! I am not sure how I would explain that one to the garage!

Ready to rumble at 9am we set of for mile 1…and down the steps we went into The Thames…. Follow the yellow buoys and multi coloured tow floats till the beach they said! How hard can it be….. loved it…. And then knee onto the bank and through the timing mat. Job done and then a mile walk back to get into the 9.45am wave for mile 2…. The master plan was to get three out of the four miles before a break at 11.15 for the half mile and kids splash and dash over 200m.


Master plan achieved and a quick cuppa and warm up in the car and ready to rumble for mile 4 of 4. Time to go for it…maybe the fastest mile? We couldn’t argue with the fact we didn’t know where we were going! Haha…. Mile 4 felt great as I wanted to be consistent and enjoy the event, which I achieved and being given my medal and told I was first lady! I know I said it wasn’t a race…. But it made me smile!


It was great to see many of our other Her Spiriters taking part such as Vicky M who enjoyed her swim with Keri-anne Payne , Gurjit and Helen (editor of 220 Triathlon) enjoying the event.

What did we learn?

  1. You can achieve more than you really think you can
  2. Events like this are for everyone, super friendly and welcoming to newbies
  3. It was Holly’s first swim event and she enjoyed the non-mass start, rolling starts are a great way to do events like this
  4. Consistency won the day and I still love a No.1 against my name!

Top Tips

  1. If you suffer from the cold like I do, wear 2 swim caps to keep that heat in your head
  2. Always make sure you have tested your swim kit and googles before an event.
  3. Just say yes to opportunities and embrace the moment – they make you smile

Well done to all the volunteers who were so helpful and supportive. I would recommend this event to anyone wanting to do their first open water event all the way through to established swimmers. Something for everyone…