Hypothermia forced Susan Simmons to call off her long-distance swim Saturday night.
Simmons, who left the beach at Ogden Point at 1 p.m. on Saturday, was pulled from the water at around 9:30 p.m. after 8.5 hours of swimming. She was attempting to cross the Strait of Juan de Fuca and back, a round-trip swim that has never been done before.
“After 8.5 hrs swimming in nine Celcius choppy water, Susan halted her swim,” Charla Huber, a friend and member of Simmons’ support team, said.
“We are so proud of her. This is the longest Susan has ever swam in water this cold.”
After she was taken out of the water, Simmons was treated by her team en route to Victoria.
The ultramarathon athlete who battles multiple sclerosis (MS) was swimming to raise money for the creation of an MS swim program. Early Sunday morning, she posted about having to be removed from the water on Facebook.
“I made a promise to Mrs. Arnott’s grade 3 class at Sangster Elementary and I kept it. After all of the research they did for the swim, they came to the realization that it could at some point become dangerous, and they asked that above all I stay safe,” Simmons wrote.
“It was a beautiful swim, flat water for the first little bit and then some pretty incredible waves and swells coming up the strait. I did not know however, that the water was sitting at a very cool 9 C (48f). When we hit the waves I started having [a] lot of challenges with my stomach. I was doing everything I could to keep my food down and eventually was not able to eat. Without the calories to provide fuel for warmth, I eventually succame to hypothermia shivering quite violently in the water and even more so when I got out. Keeping my promise to my research team at Sangster Elementary, I asked that my crew remove me from the water. A huge shout out to my crew for keeping me safe and thank you to all of you who supported me along the way.”
On Sunday, Simmons spoke about her adventure, the hypothermia and how the smoke was preventing sunlight from hitting the water.
“It was an amazing swim. It started really quite nice leaving Victoria. I had a really good crowd of people sending me off and then about halfway into the swim we hit some wind and I had to work my way through three, four-foot waves,” Simmons said “And it just got really hard and what I didn’t know was that the water was nine [degrees] Celsius and that’s a lot colder than what I’ve trained for. Eventually I succame to hypothermia and decide to exit the water.”
In the meantime, Simmons said she will continue to swim in open waters but it’s too early to announce if she will try to swim across the Strait of Juan de Fuca and back again.