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

Surrey’s Amazing Tutors donates hundreds of ‘Sunshine Food Bags’ to those less fortunate

For three years, volunteers and students have been putting together donation packages

Junior Team Canada brings home gold to the Lower Mainland, again

In a 9-4 victory over Switzerland, a Langley-based curling team earned its 2nd straight world title

Surrey-Langley curlers in the running again for gold

Junior men’s team out of Langley hopes to defend its world title Sunday, going up against Switzerland

Surrey Central SkyTrain Station upgrades completed

It’s the seventh station along Expo Line to see upgrades completed. Construction began in March 2017

Semiahmoo Trail students surpass Coldest Night fundraising goal

Rocco Forte and his team are third-year participants in Saturday’s Coldest Night of the Year walk

Indigenous leaders, politicians say Trans Mountain report flawed

The National Energy Board has endorsed an expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline a second time

Legislation to protect B.C. farmland comes into effect

Regulations enhance food security, encourage long-term farming

Have you heard the legend of Shuswaggi, the Shuswap Lake monster?

Witness accounts as old as 1904, and as recent as 2018, place a creature in the lake’s depths

UPDATE: B.C. ticket holder winner of $25.9-million Lotto Max jackpot

Next draw set for Mar. 1 with an estimated jackpot of $10 million

People gather for funeral of seven children killed in fast-moving Halifax fire

Traditional portion of the service will be followed by words from community members

B.C. weavers to help Alaska Native project honouring survivors of violence

Dozens of Chilkat and Ravenstail weavers from all over North America will be weaving 5-inch-by-5-inch squares

B.C. skip Sarah Wark and team eliminated at Scotties Tournament of Hearts

Nontheless pretty impressive stuff from the 24th-ranked team in the country

Twilight Drive-In announces open season start date

Opening weekend will showcase a double feature with Aquaman at 7:15 p.m. and Glass at 9:50 p.m.

Pope’s sex abuse prevention summit explained

It’s A high-stakes meeting designed to impress on Catholic bishops the global problem

Most Read