Channel 4 Change is a charity that has been established to raise much-needed funds to develop and implement youth mental health initiatives in Deniliquin. The local community has been struck by a series of blows connected to the ever-growing issue of mental health illnesses.
As a means to combat this trend, Channel 4 Change aims to raise awareness of mental health needs as well as money to cover the costs associated with the delivery of resources.
Brenda Norman is a PDHPE teacher at Deniliquin High School and a passionate advocate of maintaining all forms of health. She is the founder of Channel 4 Change and has planned to swim the English Channel as a means to promote the importance of mental health, especially for the young people with whom Brenda shares her day at school. Brenda has committed to an intense training regime under her coach, Chloe McCardel.
Brenda is coached by Chloe McCardel. Chloe is a world acclaimed coach who has swum the English Channel 21 times (6 of these swims were in 2016) and she currently holds the world record for the longest unassisted ocean swim. Chloe is about to attempt a four-way crossing of the English Channel! In order to undertake the gargantuan task of swimming the Channel, it was necessary to enlist the services of a coach. Chloe lives in Melbourne and dedicates her time to coaching the members of her squad and completing her own training.
Brenda is currently training 6 days per week, swimming about 35 kilometres in total. She lives in Deniliquin, so during winter the only body of water she has access to is the Edward River. Each week she completes four sessions in the river and two sessions in the Echuca War Memorial AquatiCentre.
The Edward River height and temperature fluctuate during winter. The depth of the water is currently so low that Brenda can touch the bottom whilst swimming in the middle of the river. The water temperature has been as low as 8.3 degrees. Most of Brenda’s training is completed in the morning when the outside temperature is below zero degrees. Her sessions are usually between 1-2 hours in these conditions.
Brenda travels a total of 150km in order to complete her training in the Echuca pool. She focuses on her speed and technique, with each session approximately 3 hours in duration. This training, combined with travel, is a very time consuming exercise and difficult to manage when juggling full time work commitments.
Brenda also travels to Melbourne once a month to swim in the ocean with Chloe and the rest of the swimming squad. These sessions usually are between 1-3 hours in duration. This open water swimming training is essential in order to equip Brenda with more realistic open water swimming experiences.
In July, Brenda travelled to Jervis Bay where she spent four days training with Chloe’s squad. She completed a number of swims, with the highlights being a night swim and her first 6 hour session. She will complete another long swim at Rottnest Island in February and her qualifying swim in Melbourne in April…fingers crossed!
Brenda has also sought the expertise of a nutritionist, who has advised her in the management of her diet. Brenda has been placed on a strict high protein and fat diet, completely restricting the intake of carbohydrates. This allows her to train for longer time periods without depleting her energy stores. Brenda must consume measured amounts of energy, either in the form of liquid or solids, for each swim session.
• Fewer people have successfully swum the English Channel (1452) than have climbed Mount Everest (4469).
• The narrowest distance between the coast of England and France is 33 kilometres, however, ocean currents are so strong a swimmer will complete an S-shape that is likely to be at least 40 kilometres.
• The average water temperature during the swimming season (July to September) is 14-16 degrees celsius.
• For a swim to be officially recognised by the English Channel Association, swimmers can only wear a regular swimsuit, goggles, cap, nose clip and ear plugs.
• The average solo swimming time is 13 hours, 32 minutes and 24 seconds.
• Common reasons swimmers fail their attempt are; hypothermia, challenging ocean and weather conditions and inadequate physical preparation.
• It is one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world; approximately 600 tankers and 200 ferries use it each day.