Bush boy to take on sea challenge

Thursday, 18th May, 2017

Brendan Cullen (centre) will be taking on the South Head Roughwater Swim in Sydney on Sunday. PICTURE: Supplied Brendan Cullen (centre) will be taking on the South Head Roughwater Swim in Sydney on Sunday. PICTURE: Supplied

By David Kuerschner

Most would know Brendan Cullen for his ability on the footy field in Broken Hill or for chasing sheep around a paddock, but not as a swimmer. 

But on Sunday, Brendan is taking on the rough water in the Bondi Beach to Watson Bay 10km Ocean Swim.

Brendan started to wind back his football commitments in 2010 while his family was managing a property called Avenel, 150km north of Broken Hill along the NSW/SA border. Brendan and his family have since moved closer to town, and now manage Kars Station on the Menindee Road.

Never one to turn his back on a challenge, he said sport plays a huge role in his life whether it is running down a dirt track at 4am, tackling the Kokoda Track or swimming the black line in Broken Hill. 

“The bigger the challenge the greater sense of achievement,” he said. 

“(I’m) not sure what drives this in me, it’s just in my makeup. 

“I don’t see any point in fighting it, just run with it. My brother was the inspiration for my new-found sport. I witnessed him swimming in Armidale with a group of friends at club level (The High Cows). 

“Not only did I think it was fantastic for Lachlan and his fitness but also the joy he got from catching up with his mates outside his work environment. 

“The other component to this was meeting at different destinations as a group socialising or competing. This is a big one for me, to be able to catch up with friends and stay fit. I think you need a means to an end when training.”

Brendan joined the Broken Hill Aquatic Stingrays in early 2016 and not long after he competed in his first ocean swim, the Bondi to Bronte. He said he was absolutely addicted before he even had a chance to dive in. He was hooked!

The South Head Roughwater Swim is a 10km ocean swim starting from North Bondi Beach heading north around Ben Buckler and north along the coastline to South Head then into Sydney Harbour past Lady Bay, Camp Cove and into the finish at Watsons Bay.

Brendan will be competing in the teams section and will be joined by his brother Lachlan and another mate from Armidale. 

Teams consist of the swimmers, a boat and skipper and a canoe paddler which will support the swimmer in the water. The canoe paddler for the team is none other than ex-local Kenny Lavanda.

One of the team members is absolutely terrified of sharks and has had nightmares about swimming in these same waters as a kid. Brendan said that they all know that there are dangers associated with such events, it’s just the personal achievement that has such a strong gravitational pull which is hard to resist. 

“The fact that we are swimming in teams of three gives us even more reason to want to do this event,” he said.

“There is nothing like cheering your mates on and watching each other’s back. There is no doubt we will find an extra bit of effort under these circumstances.”

Let’s hope the rough water is kind to the competitors. They rarely cancel the event due to bad weather because of the amount of sausages they have ordered for the event. Work that one out!

The Broken Hill Aquatic Stingrays wish Brendan and his team all the best and look forward to his safe return.