Friday, June 14, 2024

Victoria women to swim across Juan de Fuca Strait


On July 30, Susan Simmons and Jill Yoneda will attempt a feat that only 7 people have accomplished – swimming across the Juan De Fuca Strait.

Canadian distance phenom Marilyn Bell completed the route in 1956, calling it her most challenging swim. Since then, only 7 people have successfully crossed this 30+km route, the last person being Fin Donnelly in 1994.

Simmons and Yoneda will begin their attempt early in the morning at Dungeness Spit in Washington state, leaving between 6 – 8 am. The 30-35 km swim is then expected to take 12 to 15 hours.

Marilyn Bell
Marilyn Bell, who crossed the Strait of Juan de Fuca in 1956, aged 18.

Fighting against distance, weather, and more

The kilometres and elements aren’t the only obstacles that the pair are determined to overcome. Both also have physical limitations.

Simmons has lived with Multiple Sclerosis for over twenty years and Yoneda has a left foot drop and is recovering from a major surgery on her right leg.

But despite the diagnosis, Simmons has competed as a long distance swimmer for 7 years and racked up many accomplishments. Those include a 70K swim in Lake Cowichan and back to back 25 km swims in the Great Bear Rainforest.

Yoneda is a former member of Canada’s National Free Diving team, but this is only her second marathon swim.

Simmons will be attempting this swim unassisted without a wetsuit. However, Yoneda will swim with a wetsuit to provide buoyancy to her legs and minimize the pain.

Alistair Ogden
Former staff writer at Victoria Buzz.

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