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

Players Guild challenges Chilliwack residents to solve classic Agatha Christie whodunit mystery

The Chilliwack Players Guild is performing Murder on the Nile from Nov. 22 to Dec. 2

Chilliwack students learn about business and charity during entrepreneurship fair

Mt. Slesse Grade 8 kids will be donating 20 per cent of their business profits to the food bank

Work wrapping up in Chilliwack on the Valley Rail Trail expansion

The trail is envisioned as the north-south spine of a future cycling network

Chilliwack saw sub-tropical blast of warm air Wednesday

It didn’t break any official records but it was warmer than usual by several degrees

Around the BCHL: Junior A cities to host World Junior tuneup games

Around the BCHL is a look at what’s happening in the league and around the junior A world.

Fashion Fridays: 5 coats you need this winter!

Kim XO, lets you know the best online shopping tips during Fashion Fridays on the Black Press Media Network

B.C. to fund gender-affirming surgeries for transgender people

Roughly 100 people in B.C. travel each year out of province for lower surgeries

U.S. mayor and dying dog’s roadtrip to B.C. goes viral

First vacation in three years came a month after blood cancer diagnosis

Federal fall update expected to offer more support for struggling news industry

Ottawa committed $50 million over five years for local journalism in ‘underserved communities’ last budget

UK’s May appeals to public on Brexit, braces for more blows

British Prime Minister Theresa May answered questions from callers on a radio phone-in, the day after she vowed to stay in office

VIDEO: Stan Lee leaves posthumous message for his fans

Marvel Comics’ co-creator died on Monday at the age of 95

$136M in transit funding coming to B.C.

The announcement was made at the BC Transit yard in Langford on Friday morning

Ottawa apologizes to Japanese family in B.C. after chopping historic cherry trees

Plaque installed in Prince Rupert to honour the memory of Shotaro Shimizu

Two B.C. police officers, held in Cuba for months, cleared of sex assault allegations

Port Moody Const. Jordan Long and Vancouver Const. Mark Simms have been in Cuba since March

Most Read