Susan Simmons prepares to hit the waters of Cowichan Lake in 2014. (Gazette file)

Susan Simmons prepares to hit the waters of Cowichan Lake in 2014. (Gazette file)

Victoria woman honoured as one of world’s best

Simmons named one of the World Open Water Swimming’s World’s 50 Most Adventurous Open Water Women

A longtime friend of Cowichan Lake, Susan Simmons has been named one of the World Open Water Swimming Association’s World’s 50 Most Adventurous Open Water Women.

Based in Victoria but training up Island, she is one of two British Columbians to be recognized.

“The list includes contemporary aquatic adventurers who have done unprecedented swims of note or a significant number of risk-inherent channel, lake or marathon swims, women who have proven themselves in ice swimming competitions and solo extreme swims, and women who have safely escorted or coached many swimmers of various abilities in rough waters,” said Steven Munatones, the WOWSA’s founder.

The list also includes Jessi Harewicz, a marathon/channel swimmer from Victoria — a friend of Simmons. The pair are the only Canadians on the list.

This is the second time Simmons has received the honour, also cracking the list in 2015.

“I think being recognized is very humbling. It’s a big world with lots of ‘fish’,” she joked.

Simmons often trains in Cowichan Lake as it’s “great for 10km sets” she explained.

But she’s well known for her “official” swims in the lake.

In 2013 with friend and training partner Alex Cape, Simmons swam 34 kilometres across Cowichan Lake but it’s what they did the following year that earned the major accolades. The duo earned great acclaim for their 32-hour, 79-kilometre two-way crossing of the lake. That’s there AND back!

They attempted a three-way crossing in 2015 but Simmons got out of the water due to illness after 21 hours and 18 minutes after having swam 44 kilometres.

In 2016 Simmons completed the 50-kilometre Great Bear Swim from Ocean Falls to Bella Bella with friends with Dale Robinson and Jill Yoneda.

A remarkable accomplishment on its own, the WOWSA honour is even more impressive given Simmons has multiple sclerosis.

“I have had a few challenges with my MS this year but have learned how to manage it. It’s important I stay active and live a full life,” she said. “What is most helpful though is people hear about someone with MS doing these things. We begin to learn that having a disability does not mean we are limited — we just have to do it differently.”

Up next on her agenda, Simmons is going to be swimming from Bella Bella to Namu. In early August she will attempt the Strait of Juan de Fuca (from the USA to Canada).