One of the most inspiring experiences of my life happened July 31, when I saw Susan Simmons finish her 34-kilometre swim with powerful, steady strokes. And how amazing to see her walk out of the cold Pacific Ocean onto the beach wearing only a bathing suit.
Simmons climbed up the steep trail from the beach. As she walked by, I said: “Congratulations.” She turned and graciously said: “Thank you,” and gently touched my bare shoulder with one very cool finger.
Then she said: “You’re hot!” Of course my sun-warmed shoulder felt that way to the woman who had just, minutes before, finished a 10-hour swim in 11 C water.
I have a new hero. It’s amazing to look out, from Dallas Road toward the Olympic Mountains, and know that Simmons swam that far. It’s one thing to know that Marilyn Bell did it in 1956. It’s a whole other thing to be touched by a person who just came out of the water after doing it.
Simmons wasn’t the only one to swim across the strait that day. I congratulate Jill Yoneda, as well. I applaud both for their courageous swims and way of dealing with their own personal challenges.
I wish them well for their fundraising efforts, too — Simmons for the MS Wellness Centre and Yoneda for a surf camp for Ahousaht First Nation kids.
Sylvia von Schuckmann