After 25 hours of strong currents, strait swimmer lands victorious

Swimmer Jill Yoneda completed her double crossing of the Strait of Georgia on Saturday, emerging on Lasqueti Island just over 25 hours after she set out.

Friend Mandy-Rae Krack, who accompanied Yoneda in a boat, said strong currents fought the swimmer much of the way and so the decision was made to land at Lasqueti instead of Nanaimo, still allowing her to claim what is believed to be the first double-crossing of the strait.

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Yoneda emerged from the water at 6:15 p.m.

“She is actually doing really well,” Krack said. “She swam up and walked out on her own and then sat down.”

The 43-year-old Victoria woman stepped into the water at Neck Point in Nanaimo at 5:04 p.m. on Friday and headed toward Sechelt, where she turned around without touching land or bottom, and headed back.

Krack said ocean currents made the swim a near constant battle. At times, Yoneda was forced to swim full out just to remain in place. On the way back, currents seemed to shift direction and fight against the swimmer all over again.

But with the landing on Lasqueti Island, Krack said her friend can now lay claim to crossing the Strait of Georgia, Malaspina Strait and Sabine Channel in a single swim. Yoneda swam about 43 nautical miles, almost 80 kilometres — about 10 kilometres longer than the planned route.

Open-water rules stipulate no person is allowed to touch the swimmer. So food and water was passed over with care.

The swim was an effort to raise money for Canuck Place, which said she had almost reached her goal of $10,000.

Yoneda has always been at home in the water. She was a competitive swimmer as a child, but by the time she was an adult she was dealing with some near-disabling physical problems.

She has nerve and muscle issues in her right leg and degenerative disc disease, which has meant 15 surgeries, so she switched to open-water distance swimming. Last summer she crossed Juan de Fuca Strait, swimming the 34 kilometres from Port Angeles, Washington, to Victoria.

Meanwhile, Susan Simmons, another open-water swimmer from Victoria, was planning to accompany Rama DelaRosa on her swim around Salt Spring Island this weekend.

Simmons decided on the Salt Spring swim after high winds and waves forced her to postpone her attempt to swim to Port Angeles and back.

Simmons, who has multiple sclerosis and swims to raise money to assist research and other people with MS, also swam Juan de Fuca Strait with Yoneda last summer.

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