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

VIDEO: Woman files complaint over treatment of cat with two broken legs

Ariel Johnston of Abbotsford says her pet was sent home without pain medication

VIDEO: Young Langley singer shoots to dethrone veteran musician

Winners will be announced Oct. 21 at the Hard Rock Casino, and several Langley artists are hopefuls.

Alternative radio station found for play-by-play of Giants games

Spice Radio steps in to broadcast the Langley-based hockey team’s games, when Sportnet cannot.

Mounties need help finding Langley woman

Familiy haven’t spoken to Megan Terpsma much since June 2017, and concerned for her well-being.

UPDATE: Police raid Langley home in search for murder suspect Teixeira

Several law enforcement agencies were at a Willoughby home, hunting for a man charged with murder.

Watch out for Pavement Patty: Drivers warned outside B.C. elementary school

New survey reveals unsafe school zones during 2018 back-to-school week

Why Whistler for ski jumping in 2026? Calgary proposal gets pushback

Calgary 2026 proposes re-using the 2010 ski jumping venue Whistler for that sport and nordic

VIDEO: Dozens line highway as family brings home body of B.C. teen

Northern B.C. showed their support by lining Hwy 16 as Jessica Patrick’s body returned to Smithers.

Despite progress, threat of 232 tariffs dominates NAFTA negotiations

Any deal is seen to require congressional approval before Dec. 1 to survive new Mexican government

B.C. MP Todd Doherty receives award for saving man who collapsed on a plane

Conservative MP was flying from Vancouver to Prince George, B.C., in June last year

Alleged border jumper from Oregon facing 2 charges after police chase in B.C.

Colin Patrick Wilson charged with dangerous operation of motor vehicle, flight from a peace officer

More than 35 B.C. mayors elected without contest

No other candidates for mayor in the upcoming local election in 22 per cent of B.C. cities

‘Hero’ kid fighting cancer helping with B.C. Children’s Hospital fundraiser

Penticton’s Wills Hodgkinson helping raise funds for B.C. Children’s Hospital

First Nations block roads to stop the moose hunt in B.C.’s Interior

Chief Joe Alphonse confirmed Thursday they’ve deactivated the Raven Lake Road and the Mackin Creek Road just before the Island Lake turnoff

Most Read