Susan Simmons

Susan Simmons

Canadian athlete delays Strait swim

VICTORIA — An ultra-marathon swimmer who planned to swim across the Strait of Juan de Fuca and back today has delayed her swim due to winds forecast to be 34 mph.

Susan Simmons said she now hopes that her attempt at becoming the first person to swim across the Strait of Juan de Fuca twice in one go will happen Saturday, weather permitting.

Simmons was concerned the wind forecast for today would blow her off course on the return swim.

Saturday is her first choice now, but the swim could happen Tuesday, Wednesday or later in the month.

She said it’s possible, but unlikely, she would swim this Thursday.

Despite the delay, the swimmer from Victoria said she is excited about making the attempt, which is expected to take about 24 hours.

She has swum the distance before — about 40 miles round trip — but she has never dealt with water that cold — the temperature in August is generally about 53 degrees — for that long.

Simmons — ultra-marathon swimmer, coach, paddler and MS athlete —is a traditional swimmer, which means she wears nothing but a swimsuit, swim cap and goggles, and accepts no aid other than nourishment from her support crew.

“It’s a big swim and I’m not going to say I’m going to make the swim,” she said. “In the case of this swim, it’s never been attempted and — there’s a reason for that.”

Simmons successfully swam from the Dungeness Spit to Ogden Point in Victoria last year, becoming the 13th person to swim across the Strait and the eight person to make it without a wetsuit.

She said that about 10 minutes after exiting the chilly water last year was when she decided she would attempt to swim across the Strait twice in one go.

“I thought ‘wow, I feel so great’ and I took my crew for beer at Ogden Point,” she said. “If I had this much energy after the swim, I can try double.”

Simmons has multiple sclerosis, which is part of the reason she’s attempting the swim.

“When you have MS, it’s better to try to move than not,” she said. “That’s what it’s about is trying to get out there and do things and making the attempts. In some cases we succeed and others we don’t, but it’s about moving forward.”

Simmons expects to land somewhere on the Dungeness Spit at about 11 p.m. the day of the swim. She cleared it with the U.S. and Canadian Coast Guards and Customs, and she is allowed to walk ashore until she is knee-deep in the water.

If she goes any farther she would need to go through Customs, she said.

After 10 minutes on shore, Simmons will turn around and start her swim back home.

For more information about her swim, visit withms4ms.com.

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Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56250, or at [email protected].

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