A swim across the Strait of Juan de Fuca and another back has never been done before. But that doesn’t bother Susan Simmons.

“I just see a clear path to the states and a clear path home,” says Simmons.

Simmons is an ultramarathon athlete who battles multiple sclerosis (MS) who hit the water Saturday to attempt the first-ever double-cross of the notoriously choppy Strait of Juan de Fuca.

She’ll be in the 10 to 16-degree Celsius water for 24 hours. But what most people may not know, is that the cold water actually helps with her disease.

“It helped me manage the disease to the point where I can manage the disease where I don’t need medication at all and I can live a pretty fun, active life. Often we’re told we can not do things and I think people should be saying, how can I help you try?” said Simmons.

Simmons never let her MS diagnosis set her back. So when high winds pushed back her historic day a couple weeks ago, she overcame that obstacle with help from a crew that knows her inside and out.

“I’ve been swimming with her for years, so we know each other well. She knows that I can look at her and know how well she’s doing and if her stroke changes, I would be aware of that,” said crew leader Pam Laudman.

Friends, family and fans, gathered in anticipation on the beach to watch Simmons make history and stretch the possibilities of what it means to live with MS.

“This is a great opportunity to see what ‘yes’ looks like, and ‘I can do it,'” said Lin Fraser.

“I’m a physio that works with MS, and it used to be that we told people not to exercise and now it’s really important that people do,” said Laudman.

To monitor Simmons progress, visit her Facebook page. 

Kori Sidaway