Famous five get ready for Best Fest

My name is Mel Berry and I am a former national age group swimmer. While living in Dubai I took up triathlon, but now I want to get back into the sport I love. What better way to do that than swimming in the warm waters of the Mediterranean with a group of likeminded friends, so we have entered a 4km swim in Mallorca as part of the Best Fest open water swim festival in May.
My teammates are an eclectic mix of two Germans (Maggi Teabrake and Gudrun Meisel), Vreni from Switzerland and Yorkshire lass Jo Mallinson. We are all members of Nottingham triathlon club TFN, where I am also a coach. We love training together and inspiring each other to swim faster, enter crazy sporting events, eat more cake and drink more beer. The latter probably wasn’t a good idea the night before a big swim, but it was fun!
So why do we want to do this swim? For myself and Jo, it is simply our love of swimming. Last year we concentrated on our cycling fitness, but 2015 is our year of swimming. Maggi and Gudrun are always up for new challenges, and Vreni is using the experience as part of her quest to win her age group at Ironman Switzerland and qualify for the world championships in Hawaii in 2016. Vreni is an amazing athlete to work with and after all the training she put in is now swimming faster than she ever has before.
It has been great to get back into proper swimming training. I am in the water at least 5 hours a week and in the gym twice a week. I love it and am actually starting to keep up with the lads on Thursday morning’s aptly named Thursday Threshfest. It is a painful session but it feels good to be swimming with a much faster group – and maybe one day I will even lead the lane!
My other motivation for the swim is to beat double Commonwealth champion and three-time Olympian Ross Davenport. I have known Ross for many years and in 2012 we cycled across Zambia with Becky Adlington, Jo Jackson and Adam Peaty to raise money for Sport in Action. Watch out Rosco, I’m coming for you! And having been lucky enough to spend some time in the pool with Commonwealth Games gold medallist Hannah Miley, we are now all ready to take on the Best Fest challenge.

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I created Outdoor Swimmer in 2011 (initially as H2Open Magazine) as an outlet for my passion for swimming outdoors. I've been a swimmer and outdoor swimmer for as long as I remember. Swimming has made a huge difference to my life and I want to share its joys and benefits with as many people as possible. I am also the author of Swim Wild & Free: A Practical Guide to Swimming Outdoors 365 a Year and I provide one-to-one support to swimmers through Swim Mentoring.