Channel Swimming & Piloting Federation "Nothing great is easy", Captain Matthew Webb

10 Jul 2015Adana Metropolitan Munincipality Women's Channel Team

Adana Metropolitan Munincipality Women's Channel Team

The first all female relay team from Turkey swim the Channel


On 9/10 July 2015  we, Nesrin (58), Yesemin (50), Rengin (49), Beyza (16), Çilem (47), Halime (33), completed our English Channel  swim in a crossing time of 16 hours 44 minutes under the careful guidance of our trainer Kamil Resa Alsaran, observer Carolyn Ellis and captain Eddie Spelling. As a team of six, we are rightly proud to be the first all female team from Turkey to cross the English Channel. Our story starts when all hopes are dashed for another world, for another Turkey. Another world where people believe in themselves and others, and overcome any obstacles together in reaching their targets. And this is how our story began…

Exactly a year ago, in July 2014, in the Bosphorus cross-continental race, 2 Continents 1 Race, our trainer came up with an idea that we could not even imagine at that time, which was to create a team to swim the English Channel. We all got excited by the idea itself even though none of us was sure if we could succeed it. We learned that 37.2% of total swimmers swam in the Channel was woman and we were going to be the first woman team crossing the Channel from Turkey. This was out biggest motivation throughout the process as it had many symbolic connotations for us, for the women, for Turkey and for the world, in our opinion. So who are we?

Nesrin Arslan… first woman crossing the Channel from Turkey in 1979. On our way to our goal, presence of Nesrin in the team was very meaningful to us. She was also fascinated with the idea and became the captain of our team.

Çilem… a woman with post-polio syndrome and presence of her in the team was going to increase our motivation and meaning of what we were planning to do.

Beyza… sixteen year old national swimmer. She was the youngest and of course the fastest.

Halime… the daughter of Erdal Acet who crossed the Channel two times in 1972-1973 and broke record with 9 hours by his one way solo crossing. He is not swimming anymore but his daughter Halime is a swimmer and a swim trainer.

Rengin…a doctor who started swimming 5 years ago. She accepted the proposal of Kamil without any hesitation.

Yasemin…a successful woman who passed the Channel in 2013 in First Turkish  team. Even though she is very busy due to nature of her work , she has been swimming since many years and she sat her heart on this aim of crossing the Channel with the first woman team from Turkey.

And our trainer Kamil…He swam the Channel solo in 2012 and in a team in 2013. He is going to do a double crossing in August 2015 and he will be the oldest person double crossing the Channel in the world if he succeeds. Our hearts are with him…

Besides the presence of these ambitious women and our lovely trainer, Adana Municipality accepted to be our financial supporter throughout this process.   And there were literally no obstacles for us for not swimming across the Channel!

On 6th of July, we flew to London and then Dover. It was the first experience of England for most of us. We were very curious and excited and did not know what was waiting for us except the risk of hipotermia. Jellies, swimming at night, giant waves and busy sea traffic…  These are important risks we advise other potential swimmers to get to know before swimming the Channel.

The weather conditions were not suitable for swimming when we got Dover so we had to wait for few days for the weather let us swim. During this time, we trained at night and tried to get used to cold water. Throughout these nigh trainings, we had difficulty in seeing around and we crashed each other in the sea or could not find our stuff on the seaside. Briefly, these trainings were big fun for us before the crossing.

We were waiting for Eddie, the captain of Anastasia, to let us know the suitable time to swim. We kept calling him at least twice a day to ask if we could swim and every time we called him he told us how he missed to hear our voice J  

On 9th of July, finally it was time to swim and we departed with Anastasia towards Shakespeare Beach. And we started our crossing with Beyza.

“Gooo Beyzaaa gooooo… Continue!”

We apologize to Carolyn, hope she did not lose her audial abilities after our shoutings J

We were preparing Çilem for her turn during Beyza was swimming. We were putting grease on her body to keep her warmer in the water but we should have put too much grease  on her sick leg that she could not recognize her own leg J Beyza came out of the water with a pale face and.. She started to throw up. At that time we heard Çilem screaming in the water. It was one of the jellies kissing her face J and her nose was cherry red when she came out of the water. When it was Nesrin’s turn to swim, we were shouting lesser because mostly we were busy with throwing up… Then Rengin was swimming when the waves got bigger. It was not a coincidence because she is very resistant to cold water and Kamil made Rengin swim in every change positions of the tides. Then, Rengin tendered thanks to Kamil for his generousity J It was Halime’s turn and she confronted with all her fears while swimming together with jellies. Our final swimmer was Yasemin. We spent 16 hours 44 minutes in these circumstances, throwing up all the time, eating nothing, drinking nothing. Kamil watched all of us swimming without leaving his position on the sta?rs during 16 hours.

When it was dark, things get harder for us. We remember Beyza asking to Renging if there was any fish in the water. No one understood what she meant by this. Rengin replied her:

“No fish in the sea. Just few jellies, that’s all” But it worked and Beyza was convinced! She made a final vomiting and dived.

It was our 3rd and final round, everyone was extremely exhausted and looked reluctant. But we never gave up. We had been working for this since one year and we would never leave our aim and our supporters in lurch. We were going to show how people could push their limits against difficulties and how women can be successful in doing this in contrast to the common-sensical generalizations about women.    

Rengin made her last jump into the water when the sun was rising slowly. She was going to be the last to swim and set foot on the French coasts. However, streams were so powerful that we needed Halime as well to swim. After her 44-minute more swimming, Halime arrived French coasts and rose her hands up. We were hugging each other and forgot all these hard moments during our crossing. This was unbelievable. We had become the first woman team ever crossing the Channel from Turkey! We showed that women can achieve and these women can be from Turkey!

Special thanks to Eddie Spelling our marvellous Pilot and the crew of Anastasia,our lovely observer Carolyn Ellis,our excellent coach Kamil Resa Alsaran,as well as thanks for the support of our families and friends.

We are grateful to everyone who supported and believed in us.


Sandettie Lightship Observations

8am, 28th March 2024

Water: 49.3 °F (9.6 °C)

Air: 47.5 °F (8.6 °C)

Wind Speed: 26.0 kn (48.2 km/h)

Wind Direction: SW (220°)

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