Brianna targets Triple Crown - then seas, lochs, lakes and oceans

Published 5:00am 17 February 2022

Brianna targets Triple Crown - then seas, lochs, lakes and oceans
Words by Nick Crockford

Brianna Thompson may, next month, join an exclusive club, which currently has only eight members.

After a remarkable weekend in Tasmania, the 20-year-old is one swim short of completing Australia’s Triple Crown of marathon swimming.

That could happen next month off Sydney - but it will depend on a boat skipper and timing.

However, the Albany Creek Swimming Club member is planning to tackle almost 50kms of open water between Guernsey and France in July.

Swimming the 36kms of Loch Ness in Scotland is a possibility in 2023 and Lake Geneva, 70kms long, is on her ‘bucket list’.

Thompson is also ‘interested’ in several of the global Oceans Seven swims. All are likely to be self-funded, as were her previous marathons.

Brianna targets Triple Crown - then seas, lochs, lakes and oceans
Brianna Thompson on the 34km Derwent River swim in Tasmania.

“I don’t look at records. I do it for me,” Thompson said, “if I can start this swim and 12 hours later, I finish it.

“It’s more about finishing and accomplishing it - not being the youngest or the fastest.

“You do get wrapped up in doing something like this. It’s incredible. Sometimes I don’t realise how big (an achievement) it is.”

Thompson’s record on longswims.com is already impressive. The 10km Burleigh to Surfers was her first major amateur race in April 2018.

Her first solo swim, six months later, was the English Channel (33kms). Nine months later she did a double crossing (66kms).

Port to Pub (25kms), the first leg of the Triple Crown off Western Australia, was ticked off in March 2019 - and again 12 months later.

Brianna targets Triple Crown - then seas, lochs, lakes and oceans
Morning mist as Brianna Thompson swims the Derwent River

She did the second leg of the Triple Crown on January 28 this year, 34kms on the Derwent River from the New Norfolk Bridge to the Tasman Bridge in a record six hours 40 minutes.

Two days later Thompson was in the support crew for another Derwent swimmer and eight hours that finished, decided to do the swim in reverse, upstream.

She started just before dark, admits to “freaking out a bit” at one point possibly through lack of sleep and feeling some stretches “lasted for ever”.

But 11 hours 43 minutes after jumping in, Thompson reached the New Norfolk Bridge.

“Derwent is longest in the Triple Crown and colder,” she said, “it’s only recently become a popular swim and been included in triple crown. Only a handful of people have done it.

“The reward was the feeling of accomplishment. Many people think what I do is insane, but swimming, for me, is like therapy.

Brianna targets Triple Crown - then seas, lochs, lakes and oceans
Brianna with her cap which says she is a Derwent River conqueror.

“I have always loved swimming. I have a good build for it, being a little bit stockier and to be honest I’d rather swim in freezing cold temperatures than a hot pool.”

However, the Albany Creek pool was where Thompson ‘s career started at the age of 10 and where her coach recognised her love of long distances

At 13 Thompson swam her first 5km open water race and made the national championships. She then progressed to 7.5km events.

However, it was an Albany Creek club colleague, Ben Freeman, who inspired Thompson’s love of ultra-marathon events.

Brianna targets Triple Crown - then seas, lochs, lakes and oceans
Brianna Thompson taking on refreshments mid-swim.

“He was 17 and had just swum the English Channel,” said Thompson, “I thought that was incredible and something I want to do one day, when I finish school.”

She spoke to Trent Grimsey, who holds the single crossing record for the English Channel, at open water swims he organised off Suttons Beach, Redcliffe.

Grimsey offered Thompson a channel swim slot in May 2018 and after three weeks waiting for the right conditions, she waded in and the punishing training schedule paid off.

Thompson builds up her weekly distances from 60kms to 75kms over a three-month period and stretching open water from four to six hours.

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