A GROUP of Ceredigion woman have successfully swum across the English Channel, raising thousands for the RNLI in the process.

Tîm Merched y Môr - a team of 6 women from Ceredigion between the ages of 40 and 68 - took on the English Channel on Saturday, 29 June and in the process have raised more than £7,000 for New Quay RNLI so far.

The team consisted of Ali O'Dochartaigh, Kate Lee, Dr Sian Newman, Sally Worsley, Jill Sutton and Louise Ensoll.

Merched y Mor
Merched y Môr team who successfully swam the English Channel (Supplied)

Kate explained: "We came together after our friend and swim companion Rachel Monrowe had challenged herself to swim the channel and needed five more people to make up the team.

"We all said yes immediately and thought about what we'd just got ourselves into afterwards!

"Unfortunately, around three months before the swim, Rachel had to drop out due to medical conditions and so 10 weeks before the swim date, Jill, 68 found herself being persuaded - by the help of cake - to join the team."

The team set off on their challenge on Friday, 28 June.

English Channel
Taking on the choppy waters (Supplied)

Kate continued: "We'd booked accommodation from the Friday knowing that we were position two for our support boat so unlikely to be going on the first day. However on the Wednesday, we received an email from the pilot Rob Thompson to say we'd be swimming on Saturday 29th June and needed to meet him at the marina at 03:30hrs.

"We'd arrived at our accommodation at around 5pm, ate, unpacked and re-packed our kit and tried to sleep. I think some of us managed four hours maximum then we were up to fuel up, pack the car and head to the marina.

"We met the boat's pilot and crew and our Channel Swimming & Piloting Federation observer who was there to make sure we didn't break any rules, then set off.

English Channel
Merched y Mor swimmers (Supplied)

"Ali was first and although the weather forecast had been great for the day, it was windy and very choppy as she jumped in to swim over to Shakespeare beach steps to start the swim. She jumped back in off the steps at 04:21 to start the swim.

"Each swimmer swam for one hour then changed over, the rules are strict in that, you must always swim behind the previous swimmer before you can start your one hour swim and once in the water you mustn't touch the boat or other the swimmer that is getting out otherwise you will be disqualified and the whole swim will get aborted.

"Four to five hours in, the conditions started to change and the sea looked beautiful and clear, the wind dropped and the sun was out. We started to really enjoy the day and were really positive. Unfortunately, this didn't last and by the time Ali went in for her third swim (13 hours into the challenge) the waves were getting big and the wind had picked right up. I was in next and dreading it, especially as we'd had a few claps of thunder and it was really feeling quite stormy.

English Channel
The route and Louise on her second swim (Supplied)

"I remember thinking, 'it's only an hour, you've done an hour in choppy conditions before, just push hard and this will be your last swim hopefully'.

"I kept taking on mouthfuls of water and at one point had to stop to clear the water out of my nose and airways.

"Seeing the Welsh flag dangling over the side of the boat as a five minute warning for changeover was such a relief.

"The conditions changed again but for the better as we were nearing Wissant Beach and it was looking like Louise our 6th swimmer would land us.

"We were greeted by a paddle boarder just after Louise started the last swim, the RIB followed her in and we were allowed to follow as well as long as we didn't touch her or get out of the water onto land before she did.

"Louise landed us on Wissant Beach at 20:48 and was greeted by locals congratulating us and taking photos."

Now home and reflecting on the epic challenge the women took on, Kate added:"Most of us had never even dreamed of swimming the channel.

"Sally said she had thought about it as a 12 year old girl but life goes on and dreams get forgotten about. At the age of 60, she finally did it!

"It goes to show that with hard work, determination and the amazing support of family, you can do whatever you want."

The team on the boat (Supplied)

Roger Couch, New Quay RNLI's Lifeboat Operations Manager said: "Everyone at New Quay Lifeboat Station would like to congratulate Tîm Merched Y Môr for their remarkable challenge - what an amazing feat swimming the English Channel. We would like to send our thanks to the team and their support crew on raising a tremendous amount of money for our station and our lifeboats. We are deeply grateful for your support and the funds you have raised, which will fuel our continued service.

"The RNLI is the charity that saves lives at sea, with its volunteers providing a 24-hour search and rescue service around the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland coasts. However, without supporters and fundraisers like Merched y Môr our service would not exist. Thank you."

Merched y Môr have so far raised £7,475 so far, but there is still a chance to donate by visiting their Justgiving page.