Page last updated at 08:39 GMT, Sunday, 14 September 2008 09:39 UK

Women finish Afghan Channel swim

Two Afghan women
Some Afghan women have difficulty accessing maternity care

A group of six women have completed a swim across the English Channel to raise money towards building a maternity hospital in Afghanistan.

The swimmers, aged 24 to 64, started at Dover on Sunday night and arrived near Calais just after 2100 BST on Monday.

The women, all from the Serpentine Swim Club at London's Hyde Park, hope the sponsored swim will raise 50,000.

They had originally set out on Saturday night but were forced to abandon their efforts due to rough seas.

Clare Doyle, 64, Martha Fray, 56, Lorraine Jones, 56, Anne Macalpine-Leny, 51, Maree Mitchell, 31, and Sophie Rutenbar, 24, took turns to cover 21 miles across the Channel.

'One more brick'

Mrs Macalpine-Leny said: "We're absolutely amazed and exhilarated. We did it in 23 hours and 16 minutes. It's beyond our wildest dreams."

The money they raise will go to the UK-based charity Afghan Mother and Child Rescue.

The 10-bed hospital will be built in a remote area of Panjsher province in partnership with Afghanistan's Ministry of Public Health.

Mrs Macalpine-Leny added: "This has not been an easy swim, we have battled through sickness, waves and bad weather over the last 24 hours to get here.

"It's been a challenge but with every stroke we were thinking 'it's one more brick for the hospital'."

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