Trio to swim across Menindee Lakes

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A trio consisting of two local swimmers are set to attempt a swim of over 20 kilometres across the Menindee Lake and Lake Cawndilla to raise funds and awareness for Lifeline.

Lifeline Broken Hill Country to Coast (C2C) Ambassador, Brendan Cullen has roped in his coach and open water swimming pro, Michael Gregory, and young local swimmer Sienna Speechley to join him on this potential world-first swim.
Brendan said swimming the Menindee Lakes has always been on his radar.

“I’ve seen the lakes dry quite often and I did say to someone a couple of years ago that when they fill up, I’m going to have a crack at swimming these,” he said.

“I’m doing it because it’s a great training ground for my channel swim attempt in 2022. This is all part of the process to normalise swimming in different conditions. It’s all about building up a memory bank of experiences really.

Brendan said he’s coach Michael Gregory is an inspiration. “He’s an Australian Open Swimming Hall of Fame inductee. He swam the English Channel four times, he’s swam Loch Ness, one of 12 individuals to have swam it in the world, he has completed the triple crown of marathon swimming and he’s also swam from Geelong to Brighton which is a 60 kilometre swim in Victoria, across Port Phillip Bay. He’s got some serious credentials. “Sienna Speechley (18), she’s been swimming with the Broken Hill Aquatic Stingrays for at a guess, maybe nine years. This is her first attempt at open water swimming, and it could be a great prelude for her to move into that open water swimming space beyond competing in the swimming pool.”

Brendan said he doesn’t believe this swim has ever been done before. “We thought it might be a good idea to try and do it. Menindee Lake and Lake Cawndilla connect through a creek system which I think is called the Cawndilla Creek. “So (Friday) we’ll probably get in the water between seven and eight o’clock and Menindee is 15 kilometres across, so it’s going to take five hours to swim plus, depending on the conditions. If conditions are rough as guts and it’s unsafe, we won’t get in the water, but if the conditions are conducive to open water swimming we’ll swim in there.

“I believe there’s going to be a southerly, so we’ll start at the South end and we’ll finish at Sunset Strip Menindee. And then the next day we’ll start at the South end of Lake Cawndilla and swim North to the top end and then we’ll motor back in the boats where we entered. “We’ll have good support staff around us, we’ve got a couple of boats and kayakers and that’s important to try and do it safely,” he said.

As an ambassador for Broken Hill Lifeline C2C and also part of the ‘We’ve Got Your Back’ program, a partnership between Lifeline and the Royal Flying Doctor Service, Brendan said it was logical to fundraise for Lifeline with this swim. “They’ve done an incredible amount of work certainly through COVID and even pre-COVID, they’re always there and about helping people. It’s such a wonderful organisation and it just makes sense to me. ”Lifeline Broken Hill Country to Coast Marketing and Fundraising Coordinator, Emma Cullen said this is an admirable endeavour.

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“Not only is it big for Lifeline but…it’s really putting Broken Hill and especially Menindee on the map,” she said. “For Lifeline it creates an opportunity to raise funds and awareness for the ’13 11 14’ Lifeline Crisis Suicide Prevention Number.

“The funds raised will go straight back into Broken Hill, providing services, making sure that there’s always free counselling readily available, expanding our connect centres and things like that.”

To support Brendan, Sienna and Michael head to the ‘Lifeline Broken Hill Country to Coast’ Facebook page and follow the link to donate. Brendan wished to thank the community for the support they’ve received.

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