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Channel 4 Change is a charity that has been established to raise much-needed funds to develop and implement youth mental health initiatives. Brenda Norman will be swimming The English Channel for this great cause.
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Welcome to
Channel 4 Change

Raising awareness for rural mental health

Please give to this great cause

The Channel 4 Change initiative has been established to raise funds to implement evidence-based youth mental health initiatives in Deniliquin and the surrounding area.

Our youth, families and community continue to be impacted by factors contributing to poor mental health, mental illness and increased risk of suicide.

Channel 4 Change aims to raise funds and distribute these to create awareness of mental health, mental illness and wellbeing. Funds are also allocated to help the community identify local resources; in particular, resources that target local youth initiatives.

Channel 4 Change has partnered with the Deniliquin Mental Health Awareness Group (the registered charity receiving the funds raised) to support community initiatives.

Meet Brenda

Not your average PE teacher

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 swam the English Channel in 2018 as a means to promote the importance of mental health, especially for the young people with whom Brenda shares her day at school.

Brenda is currently training for her next swim, the Catalina Channel. She is on track for her crossing on 3 October, 2019.

Intense Training

6 Days a week

Brenda is coached by Robert ‘Butch’ Butcher. Butch is based in Melbourne and has been coaching for over 25 years. Not only has he coached three Australian swimming teams but he also competes and has represented Australia in more than 10 world veteran swimming championships.


Brenda swims between 35-65 kilometres each week. She lives in Deniliquin, so during winter the only body of water she has access to is the Edward River. Each week she completes three sessions in the river and two sessions in the Echuca War Memorial Aquatic Centre.


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. Her sessions are usually between 1-2 hours in these conditions.


The Echuca pool is a 150 km round trip from her home. In these sessions, Brenda focuses on her speed and technique, with each session being approximately 2-3 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 approximately once a month to swim in the ocean. These sessions are usually 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.

Brenda’s geographical isolation means it is not possible to be part of a swimming squad. All of her training is completed solo. She has one training buddy, Richard Jones, who resides in Melbourne and is also preparing for the Catalina Channel. In July, Brenda and Richard traveled to Jervis Bay to complete some 6-hour training swims.

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.

The whole process to ready herself for her second Channel crossing is certainly not as easy as putting on a pair of swimmers and going for a quick swim!

The Swim

Fun facts about The Catalina Channel

  • Fewer people have successfully swum the Catalina Channel (504) than the English Channel (1593).
  • The Catalina Channel is 32 kilometres at its shortest distance.
  • Unpredictable currents make for challenging swimming conditions.
  • The average water temperature during the swimming season is 16-21 degrees celsius.
  • The swim starts at midnight which means the majority of the swim occurs under moonlight.
  • For a swim to be officially recognised by the Catalina Channel Swimming Federation, swimmers can only wear a regular swimsuit, goggles, cap, nose clip and ear plugs.
  • Common reasons swimmers fail their attempt are; hypothermia, seasickness, challenging ocean and weather conditions and inadequate physical preparation.

Highlights from the journey to swim The English Channel – 2018

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