Susan Simmons and Dale Robinson swam A 70-kilometre stretch of the Great Bear Sea together.

MS can’t slow swimmer down

Swim event at Thetis Lake supports research and programs for MS patients

If you tell Susan Simmons she can’t do something, chances are she’ll take an extreme approach in the opposite direction.

When she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1995, she was told not to exercise because physical exertion is one of the triggers that can cause a debilitating attack. Although the former competitive swimmer hadn’t taken to the water for 25 years, she decided to jump back in with a vengeance.

“At the time I was having problems even walking a block,” explained Simmons, now 51. “I thought I was going to wind up in a wheelchair.”

She believed her experience as a “pretty relaxed” swimmer would help manage the stress levels. Additionally, she changed to a vegan diet, with an emphasis on foods that help limit inflammation, and reduce the energy loss experienced from the body’s processing of foods like meat, which can complicate her condition.

“We’ve been taught since we were kids that diet and exercise are key, but for some reason many of us resist,” Simmons noted.

Since she is convinced that exercise and diet go hand in hand on the path to a healthier life, Simmons started swimming again the same day she became a vegan.

It also seems a natural progression that she now helps organize the HtO Thetis Lake Swim for MS and the Masters Swimming Association of B.C.’s open water swimming provincial championship at Thetis Lake on July 31.

“What I love about Thetis is that the event is a community-based, gentle swim; a great place to start if you’re new to open water swimming,” the James Bay resident said.

“It also has more challenging races for more experienced swimmers. It’s a beautiful lake where most people in the Capital Region train for open water swimming.”

Simmons trains while her partner, Ray Este, paddles nearby in a kayak. Three times a week she swims two- to three-hour sessions, logging six to nine miles each session.

This year will mark the sixth time Simmons has participated in the HtO Thetis Lake Swim for MS. She started out with the 1.5 kilometre race, then swam the 3K the next year and has kept increasing her distance.

“I eventually ran out of lake and had to move on to bigger lakes and the ocean,” she said, having built her distance up to 70-kilometre open water swims. “My mantra is swim if you have MS, and it’s really worked for me.”

Simmons hopes lots of people register to swim or just come out to cheer the racers on.

“It’s a fantastic way to spend a Sunday morning,” she said.

You can register for the HtO Thetis Lake swim at Half of the money raised through donations and sponsors will go toward researching a cure for MS, while the other half supports exercise programs for people with MS in Greater Victoria. This year’s event includes distances of 800 metres, 1.5K, 3K and 5K. In addition, 1.5K and 3K Masters Provincial Championship distances have been added.

Just Posted

Short-term accommodations in Canada generated an estimated $2.8 billion in 2018

British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec generated almost 90 per cent of total revenue

Victoria street repatriated with proper spelling after a century-long mistake

‘Penwill Street’ was named after a Victoria man, but mistakenly spelled ‘Penwell Street’

Juan de Fuca curlers ‘reeling’ after learning rink will be replaced with dry floor

West Shore Parks & Recreation board says curling rinks not getting enough use

Metchosin driver striking a deer heralds a need for caution

Vehicle incident likely not the last of its kind in Greater Victoria

Five highlights in the 2019 federal budget

Latest budget includes a sprinkling of money for voters across a wide spectrum

POLL: When do you think the next major earthquake will hit Vancouver Island?

According to seismologists, Vancouver Island is overdue for a magnitude 7 earthquake.… Continue reading

Greater Victoria Wanted List for the week of March 19

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

View Royal council to discuss proposed 3.5% tax increase tonight

Budget open house to directly precede the council meeting

Facebook to overhaul ad targeting to prevent discrimination

The company is also paying about $5 million to cover plaintiffs’ legal fees and other costs

B.C. mosque part of open-house effort launched in wake of New Zealand shootings

The ‘Visit a Mosque’ campaign aims to combat Islamophobia

‘That’s a load of crap’: Dog poop conspiracy spreads in White Rock

Allegation picked up steam through a Facebook page run by a city councillor

Explosives unit brought in after suspicious boxes left at B.C. RCMP detachment

Nanaimo RCMP issues all clear after packages were found on lawn earlier in the day

2019 BUDGET: As deficit grows, feds spend on job retraining, home incentives

Stronger economy last year delivered unexpected revenue bump of an extra $27.8 billion over six years

Most Read