Weekly News Roundup

July 12, 2019

A Brisbane teenager, Brianna Thompson, has become the second-youngest person to swim the English Channel twice in one day

FRIDAY JULY 12 

A Brisbane teenager has become the second-youngest person to swim the English Channel twice in one day, swimming 68 kilometres in 22 hours. 

17 year old, Brianna Thompson, lost a layer of her tongue and suffered from severe leg cramps and jellyfish stings in the swim from England to France and back, that only 20 others have achieved before. 

Her training partner from the Sunshine Coast, Sam Penny, said Brianna also had a swollen throat and faced the constant threat of hypothermia from swimming in the 16-degree Celsius water. 

Thompson finished the swim at Samphire Hoe, near the English town of Dover, about 11:35am on Wednesday. 

In a statement, she said the worst part had been the “jellyfish stings and massive piles of floating seaweed.”

“When you are swimming for hours, these things give you a big fright,” she said.

“The jellyfish hurt for ages. They really aren’t fun.”

She said despite being back on dry land, she was too sore to sleep or sit in a chair.

“I’m in agony,” she said.

“It will be days before I can lift my arms above my head.” 

The saltwater stripped a layer of Brianna’s tongue and she said she would be unable to fulfil her pizza craving for at least three days. 

Brianna was unable to stop to eat due to the strong tides in the channel, so she had to receive food through a tube.

“I could feel my throat swelling up during my swim and each feed became more painful,” she said.  

She was only allowed to spend a minute on the other side of the channel before turning around and swimming back.

“The rules are you have to clear the water and hop back in immediately,” Sam Penny told ABC Sunshine Coast. 

“But you wouldn’t want to hang around too long. The air temperature is what cools you down.”

The Channel Swimming Association has strict guidelines for swimming the channel, including that it must be done in “traditional swimmers, goggles and a cap”.

“As my body began to shut down towards the end, I could feel the cold creeping into my body,” Ms Thompson said. 

“But then the adrenaline of finishing kicked in the closer I got and I knew I was safe from hypothermia.” 

Brianna trained in Brisbane with English Channel world record holder coach, Trent Grimsey, on the Sunshine Coast on weekends.

Brianna had no sponsors and her mother had worked two jobs to raise the $40,000 coast of preparing for and completing the double crossing. 

“There are only 20 people in history who have made it, and she is the first person in three years to finish it,” Mr Penny said. 

The Boondall teenager is also the youngest person to have completed three crossings in 12 months after her first single English Channel crossing in September 2018. 

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Tourists flocking to climb Uluru before it is banned in October are breaking laws and leaving rubbish and sewage. Local fear that they could be saddled with long-term damage. 

Australians have descended onto the landmark ahead of its closure to climbers on October 26, said chief executive of Tourism Central Australia, Stephen Schwer. 

With camping venues at capacity, tourists were veering off-track, with potentially long-lasting damage.

“We are seeing increases in rubbish and illegal roadside camping and generally the kind of behaviour which degrades the environment,” Mr Schwer said. 

Visitors who hadn’t booked in advance were driving up and realising there were no available camping sites. 

They were then pulling up on the side of the road or going off-road to camp, not realising they were trespassing on private property. 

Mr Schwer said part of the confusion was the millions of acres of private land in the Northern Territory that was not marked by fences. 

“What people aren’t realising is they’re not just wide open spaces. Sometimes they’re cattle property or camel farms..it might be Aboriginal land that’s being managed, it might be protected land being managed by a conservation group or national park,” he said. 

Mr Schwer asks visitors to plan in advance before making the journey to ensure they had proper campgrounds to stay out.

He also asks visitors not to climb Uluru, for a host of reasons.

“We have seen a reduction in the number of plants and animal species at the base of the rock,” he said.

“I’m not going to spell it out but there are no toilets on top of the rock, there are no toilets on the climb.”

It is also very dangerous, he said, with people having died on the climb and injuries occurring “almost every day”.  

“Thirdly it’s to respect the wishes of the Aboriginal owners of the land. The Anangu people own the land and their wish is for people not to climb the rock,” he said. 

The climb has long been discouraged by the Anangu people, who consider the area sacred.

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Ash Barty’s 15-match winning streak has come to an end at the hands of American Alison Riske. 

Striving to become the first Australian woman to make the quarter-finals at the All England Club since Jelena Dokic 19 years ago, Barty fell 3-6, 6-2, 6-3 in a fourth-round nail-biter on Monday.

Riske withstood 12 aces from Barty to chalk up her tour-best 14th grass court victory of the season. 

The match also ended Barty’s 15-match winning streak and diminished the 23-year-old’s hopes of completing a French Open-Wimbledon title double. 

Barty referenced musical, Annie, in her post-match media conference as she kept the defeat in perspective:

“It’s disappointing right now, but you give me an hour or so and I’ll be all good,” Barty said.

“The Sun’s still going to come up tomorrow.”

“I didn’t win a tennis match. It’s not the end of the world,” Barty continued. 

“Overall it’s been a hell of a trip, [though I’m] disappointed right now. Obviously it’s a tough pill to swallow, in the same breath it’s been an incredible few months.”

In reference to her Disney quotes, Barty admitted she loves Disney and the references were her way of adding a bit of fun to the proceedings. 

“Look, it was a way for us to enjoy it and try to bring a little bit more energy, I suppose, in the press. I love Disney. I watch it all the time.”

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