Outback rancher and Lifeline Ambassador Brendan Cullen attempts to cross the English Channel

Brendan Cullen swims frequently along the now thriving Lake Menindee as he nears the challenge of his life.

Mr Cullen from Kars Station, east of Broken Hill, practiced swimming in the English Channel.

“After training for a while, I had a moment of excitement and thought, ‘I might give it a try’.”

After countless pandemic-fueled disruptions, he finally qualified to attempt one of the largest and most iconic swimming marathons in the world.

NSW breeder Brendan Cullen qualified to swim the English Channel in July 2022.(Provided)

Six hours of swimming to qualify

Just three years ago, the Wild West rancher swam across what was the last remaining body of water in the Menindee Lakes system, Copi Hollow.

But widespread rains and influxes from the north in 2021 saw parts of the system reach 100 per cent capacity for the first time since 2012, and now Mr Cullen is training through the bountiful lake system.

To qualify, Mr Cullen swam 11,260 strokes, or 16 kilometers, across Port Phillip Bay in Melbourne on April 29.

“Mentally, for me to be able to swim six hours in 16 degrees [Celsius] the water gave me a little bit of confidence to know that maybe I could hold out for the duration of the swim in the channel,” he said.

The full Channel swim is 33km and can take anywhere from seven to 27 hours to swim.

A man swimming in sea water with a kayak.
Mr Cullen qualified by swimming along Melbourne’s Port Phillip Bay in six hours.(Provided: Brendan Cullen)

“It’s now personal”

Inspired by his brother as well as endurance swimming legend Michael Gregory, the Lifeline Ambassador hopes to not only conquer the English Channel, but also advocate for men’s mental health and the benefits of swimming.

“There’s one thing I love doing and that’s being able to help people. It’s ingrained in my whole life.”

Mr Cullen said swimming has become a way for him to improve his mental health, after suffering his own battle with depression during years of severe drought.

“I watched my brother swim – Bondi to Bronte – and it was inspiring to be quite honest, and I thought, ‘I have to jump in the water and swim’.”

“It’s just something that has now become personal and now it’s about trying to tick that box.”

Two men in speedos stand in front of a body of water.
Michael Gregory (left) and Brendan Cullen (right) discuss technique and strategy during a practice session.(ABC Broken Hill: Sara Tomevska)

The road to the UK at your fingertips

Mr Cullen said the unpredictability of the swim meant he did not feel overly confident about his swim at the end of July, but training from the Broken Hill Aquatic Stingrays and Gregory team – one of the swimmers in Australia’s most experienced open water – left him. feel well equipped.

“The day when anything can happen, and there’s a lot of fuss, so all I can do is keep going after it and come out the other side with a successful crossing,” he said. -he declares.

“Michael [Gregory]References are something else entirely. He swam four times in the canal, he swam in Loch Ness, one of only 12 people in the world to have swum that.”

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