Two of Victoria’s most ambitious open water swimmers are attempting to swim the length of Cowichan Lake for a second time this weekend.
And this time they’re making it a double.
In July 2013, Susan Simmons and Alex Cape swam the length of Cowichan Lake in a little more than 11 hours. This year they’re planning two lengths of the lake, 70km, a feat that will be at least 24 hours in the water, non-stop.
They start Friday at 2 p.m. from the south end of the lake and anticipate a Lake Cowichan finish late on Saturday afternoon.
“There is a strict code with open water swimmers,” said Simmons, of James Bay. “No wetsuits is one. But we are allowed to get out of the water for 20 minutes after we swim one length of the lake, if we wish.”
Simmons’ has captured the hearts of many as she’s suffered from multiple sclerosis for 20 years. Swimming, and a raw-food focused diet, are her way of dealing with MS.
Through her accomplishments, which include swimming with a relay team across the Georgia Straight and as of last month, the English Channel, Simmons has pulled together not only the Greater Victoria MS community, but people from far and wide.
“I receive messages of support, messages of personal success stories that I influenced, and more, through my website,” Simmons said.
To prepare for the challenge Simmons and Cape swim with multiple masters’ clubs around town, including the 50-metre lanes at Crystal Pool and Saanich Commonwealth Place, and have spent the majority of their weekends for the past few months swimming the open waters of Thetis Lake.
“We’re in Thetis for hours and hours every Saturday and then we do it again on Sunday. We’ve actually found Thetis isn’t big enough for our training purposes,” Simmons said.
Should the couple succeed, they’ll need about 24 to 26 hours to complete the 70km length. To make it an even 70km, they have tacked an extra kilometre into their route, upping it from the 34km they did last summer.
The time and distance put them into a couple of exclusive open water swimming clubs, the limited 24-hour club, and the top 15 per cent of all successful open water swim attempts in terms of distance.
The logistics are plenty.
Len Martel heads the organizing which includes dozens of volunteers. In the water there are safety boats and kayaks, as well as several additional swimmers who are “jumping in” for two- or five-kilometre stretches, maybe more.