susan simmons
(Susan Simmons 2018/

A Victoria swimmer is looking to make history once again by swimming across the Juan de Fuca Strait—and back.

“It’s never been attempted,” says Susan Simmons, 53, a traditional open-water ultra-marathon swimmer who swam 33 kilometres across the Strait last August in record time.

But this August (or September, depending on the weather), attempt it she will. If successful, she’ll be the first person to ever swim the width of the Strait twice in one trip.

Simmons, who has Multiple Sclerosis, swims to raise awareness about the disease and environmental issues. She’s lived with MS for more than 20 years, and uses cold-water swimming and a vegan diet to control its symptoms.

Being a traditional open-water marathon swimmer, Simmons wears a traditional swim suit, a swim cap, and goggles while in the water. That’s it. Her only assistance will be in the form of food and liquids.

Prior to that trek, on June 6 and 7, Simmons will continue a multi-year project in which she swims the Great Bear Sea from Ocean Falls on B.C.’s Central Coast, where she started two years ago, to Vancouver Island.

“Last year I had hoped to reach Namu [in Fitz Hugh Sound] but met a few interesting challenges along the way that prevented me from getting there, including a humpback directly beneath me,” Simmon says. “Determined to complete the journey, I am returning this year, where I will start where I finished last year.”

Simmons’ route through the Great Bear Rainforest and Heiltsuk territory will include a stop at a camp for First Nations children. Anyone who wants to support Simmons can make a donation to the Qqs Projects Society, which is dedicated to supporting Heiltsuk youth, culture, and environment.