Susan Simmons (right) chats with a member of her team after halting her swim across the Strait of Juan de Fuca Saturday evening. Simmons started to develop hypothermia after swimming almost nine hours in 9 C choppy waters. Photo contributed

B.C. swimmer halts journey across Strait of Juan de Fuca after hypothermia sets in

Victoria MS athlete Susan Simmons swam for eight-and-a-half hours in 9 C choppy waters

  • Aug. 19, 2018 10:00 a.m.

By Paul Bucci, special to Black Press Media

After almost nine hours of swimming in 9 C choppy waters, Susan Simmons has halted her attempt to swim across the Strait of Juan de Fuca after developing hypothermia.

Simmons – an ultra-marathon simmer with multiple sclerosis – dove into the waters off Ogden Point Saturday, Aug. 18 at 1 p.m. expecting to be in the water for 24 hours for the 66-kilometre journey from Victoria to Port Angeles.

Roughly 15 km in she felt her head go numb, just shy of the American border.

“Sometimes in life it’s honorable to fail because safety always comes first,” Simmons said Sunday. “It takes more courage to fail then it does to succeed in some cases.”

Simmons explained she started her swim with a strong stroke and good progress, but the ocean was colder than normal, with temperatures she thinks were driven down by the thick cloud of smoke hovering over the province as a result of the wildfires.

“Water is just coming in all directions,” Simmons said of hitting the area of the strait known as the “washing machine” where wind and waves collide. “You can never really find a rhythm in your swimming, and and you’re tossed all over the place, again and again.”

The MS Athlete had hoped for a second attempt at swiming the strait – she was successful last summer – after tide and winds delayed her adventure twice, earlier this month.

Simmons uses the cold water swims to manage her MS and as a way to spread the message of resilience, strength and awareness of the disease.

RELATED: Susan Simmons begins a 24-hour swim from to Victoria to Port Angeles and back

RELATED: Victoria woman honoured as one of the worlds best

“Susan’s story is amazing, it’s exciting,” said Marilyn Bell, the first athlete to swim Lake Ontario in 1954. “She has a powerful message, and swimming is her platform to deliver that.”

In 2017, the Victoria-based Simmons, who trains at Cowichan Lake, was named one of the World Open Water Swimming’s World’s 50 Most Adventurous Open Water Women.

In a series of tweets posted Saturday evening, Simmons and her team said, “This is the longest Susan has ever swam in water this cold. She is being treated [en] route to Victoria.”

“We are so proud of her!”

Next up for Simmons is a relay through Lake Cowichan with her Special Olympic swim team, followed by a 26-mile swim in solidarity with an MS marathon in Detroit, Michigan in October.

– With files from Paul Bucci

kristyn.anthony@vicnews.com

Just Posted

North Island Tour De Rock rider Benjamin Leah leads team to Port Hardy

“You don’t have issues and problems when you look at these kids and how much they’re going through.”

Seeing double, the trials and tribulations of twins

BIG READ: Three Vancouver Island mothers share their experiences with multiple births

Paving complete, lines coming to the Malahat this week

$34 million safety project is 95 per cent complete with hope to relieve traffic congestion between Victoria and Nanaimo

UPDATE: Missing 77-year-old Barbara Munroe found safe

Shawnigan Lake RCMP are asking public to help find woman

Risk of thunderstorm this afternoon for Vancouver Island and Lower Mainland

A special weather statement calls for heavy rain and wind over the next 48 hours

Environment Canada confirms Ottawa area hit by two tornadoes Friday

At one point more than 200,000 hydro customers were blacked out

Whitecaps see playoff dreams fade after 2-1 loss to FC Dallas

Goal in 87th minute seals Vancouver’s fate

B.C. students send books to displaced students of Hornby Island school fire

Maple Ridge elementary school teacher says students learned about acts of kindness

Trump drains oxygen from Trudeau foreign policy with PM, Freeland bound for UN

A lot has changed since the Liberals came to power in Canada in 2015

B.C. man fined $15,000, barred from trading securities for fraud

Larry Keith Davis used money from an investor to pay personal bills

Emergency crews investigate small sulphuric acid spill in Kootenays

IRM states a small volume of less than one cup and three dime-sized drips were leaked from carrier

Family, friends of B.C murder victim want killer sent back to max security facility

Group wants convicted murderer Walter Ramsay sent back to a maximum security facility

Most Read