All of the pain from a broken rib, and complications of a chest infection have not held down Brenda Norman.
As at 11:08pm AEST (3:08pm local time), she arrived on the shores of Calais, France having completed the English Channel swim.
The 37-year-old PE teacher from Deniliquin completed the 40 kilometre swim in 11 hours and 53 minutes.
With the average time around 13 hours, Ms Norman’s swim is a massive achievement quite apart from all of the health challenges she has had to overcome.
Only 1,382 solo swimmers have ever successfully crossed the Channel – fewer than have scaled Mount Everest.
Her mother, Beverley Norman, stayed behind in Illabo to continue operating the family’s farm while Brenda’s sister and father cheered her on from the Princess Viking fishing trawler.
“All of our workers stayed up to watch her and they’ve all be a bit cheeky this morning talking about how tired they are now,” Ms Norman said.
Brenda’s first two hours in the water went by with little discomfort. But her mother talks of the next few being incredibly grueling.
“She started feeling seasickness about four hours in,” Ms Norman said.
To keep up her energy, Brenda had been snacking on peanut butter as she swam but when the nausea struck her, she had to forgo the food.
Coupled with the incredible pain from cramped legs and ongoing issues with her lung and rib injuries, Brenda started to struggle.
“I knew something was wrong when she stopped having the peanut butter,” said Ms Norman.
“She told me afterwards at that point she didn’t have the faith to get through.”
A pep talk from her on-board cheer squad steeled her up for the rest of her journey.
“She said when she got to that dark place she spoke with [sister] Julie and [boat crew] Charlie, and she said that’s what pulled her through.”
Over the past 18 months of training, Brenda has been raising funds for youth mental health with the charity she founded, Channel 4 Change.
Her mother said the mental challenges she overcame helped to increase her empathy for the struggles of many in the community.
“She said that’s what her swim was all about, encouraging people for when they go through those dark times to reach out and talk to someone who will pull them through.”
Now sleeping the rest of recovery, Brenda plans to spend three weeks travelling Europe before to Deniliquin – no doubt to match the hero’s welcome she met in Calais.
“Heavy currents pulled her through to a tourist beach so as she got out of the water, they all cheered her and gave her a standing ovation,” said Ms Norman.