Brianna powers 'Strait' to Africa

Published 5:00am 20 May 2024

Brianna powers 'Strait' to Africa
Words by Nick Crockford

Pictured: From left, Chris Cook, Amber Keegan, Brianna Thompson and Petar Stoychev ready to tackle the Strait of Gibraltar.

Brianna Thompson has ticked off another Oceans Seven swim, this time across one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes separating two continents.

The 22-year-old from Albany Creek Swimming Club, was in a group of four which swam the Strait of Gibraltar, from Europe to Africa, last month.

She completed the 16km from Tarifa, the southern-most point of Spain to rocks east of Tangier, in Morocco, in three hours 47 minutes.

It joins the English Channel, which Brianna swam in 2018 and 2019 to France and back, as her second of hallowed Oceans Seven challenges.

“Gibraltar was always on the bucket list to do,” said Brianna, who trains at Albany Creek Leisure Centre.

“It’s an easy swim in terms of distance. The difficulties are the restrictions.”

Attempts are heavily regulated by the Association for Swimming the Strait of Gibraltar (ACNEG) and Spanish and Moroccan coastguards.

There must be a westerly (Poniente) wind and the right tide, no attempts can be made at night, swimmers are restricted where they can land ... and there's a waiting list for attempts.

Brianna powers 'Strait' to Africa
Done it! Amber Keegan, Peter Stoychev, Brianna Thompson and Chris Cook celebrate reaching Africa.

Brianna's UK coach Chris Denyer, from Red Top Swim, set-up the Gibraltar Strait swim, also inviting Petar Stoychev, Amber Keegan and Chris Cook.

“When Tim messaged it’s hard to say no and I had the same excited feeling as when I did the English Channel,” Brianna said.

“Chris and I swam together and it felt so quick compared to other swims.”

Brianna also has the Derwent River swim both ways (66kms) from New Norfolk Bridge to Tasman Bridge three days apart, Jersey to France (22kms) and round Great Keppel Island (19kms) on her impressive resume.

Brianna powers 'Strait' to Africa
Huge shipping tankers were using the Strait of Gibraltar at the same time as Brianna Thompson and her colleagues.

Petar Stoychev, from Bulgaria, is a former world and European champion as well as a four-time Olympian who held the English Channel record before Lawnton’s Trent Grimsey broke it in 2012.

Amber Keegan is rising up the UK open water rankings and has competed in the World Cup in Sardinia and World Aquatics Championships in Japan.

Chris Cook has the English Channel (33kms), Lake Windermere (17kms), Thames Marathon (14kms) and four-day Scar Swim in Arizona to his credit.

There are no other marathon swims on Brianna’s horizon, though she will do the swimming leg of a triathlon in Cairns next month as part of a team.

Brianna powers 'Strait' to Africa
Celebrating after the swim, Petar Stoychev, Amber Keegan, Brianna Thompson and Chris Cook

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