Brisbane teen Brianna Thompson has become the second-youngest person to swim across the English Channel from England to France and back, and only had to lose an entire layer of her tongue, battle jellyfish, get fed through a tube, and risk hypothermia to do it.
As per the ABC, Brianna swam for more than 22 hours with barely a break at the halfway point and had to be fed through a tube because the currents were too strong for her to have a proper food break.
Bracing through 16-degree water, the 17-year-old swam through the panics of rogue jellyfish and the odd clump of seaweed, completing the return trip in 22 hours and 37 minutes, which is simply unhinged to me, a woman who can barely do 20 minutes of cold water recovery at Port Melbourne on a Sunday morning.
It’s not the first time Brianna went for the Big Dip in the chilly waters between England and France – last year she knocked out a one-way swim in 11 hours and 52 minutes, only to beat her own swim time this year, clocking in the first leg in 11 hours and five minutes.
Brianna said it was mostly emotionally exhausting being exposed to the chilly elements for so long, and found that her legs didn’t begin to cramp up until the last few hours of the swim back across the English Channel.
“As my body began to shut down towards the end, I could feel the cold creeping into my body,” she said.
“But then the adrenaline of finishing kicked in the closer I got and I knew I was safe from hypothermia.”
Despite the adrenaline rush, Brianna also said that when she got back on dry land her body ached so much that she could barely sit down or sleep, and the swelling in her throat and loss of a whole layer on her tongue meant that she couldn’t enjoy a big ol’ pizza like she was craving.
Brianna’s one of four Aussies who have smashed out the double crossing of the channel, and only one of forty swimmers to have done it successfully. Considering she did a single cross last year as well, she’s now the youngest person in the world to cross the channel three times in a 12-month period.
To say that I’m both deeply impressed and incredibly intimidated by this feat is underplaying it massively.
And just looking at this video of Brianna slogging it out IN THE DARK across the English Channel next to a boat has chilled me to my bones.