Local open water swimmer takes a chilly plunge into the Great Bear Sea


A local open-water swimmer has a number of epic swims to her name, including last summer's record crossing of Juan de Fuca Strait.

Susan Simmons did it in the fastest time to date.  But what makes this even more remarkable is Simmons does not wear a wet suit, and has battled multiple sclerosis for two decades.  The waters of the strait are frigid, and she credits the cold water and grueling exercise in managing her disease.

Later this summer Susan Simmons will attempt a double-crossing of Juan de Fuca Strait which she says to her knowledge has never been done.

In order to prepare for the chilly swim, Simmons set off for the Great Bear Sea on the northeast coast of Vancouver Island, where the water dipped down to 9 degrees Celsius.

"The first day was 10 degrees, and I've done 11 and 12, and every degree under 15 degrees Celsius, you really feel it.  You feel the impact on your body and it slows you down.  And, then a lot of times I'm thinking about --you know--is there a Humpback (whale) nearby, are the Orcas going to come? And watching for signs of bubble nets from the Humpbacks and making sure I don't swim over them."

Simmons says there will be three windows of opportunity to complete the Juan de Fuca Strait swim this August. 

The distance is between 60 and 70kms, with waters ranging from 8 to 12 Celsius.

For more on Simmons and her swims you can go to:  greatbearswim.com

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