Swimming Juan de Fuca Strait was not on my bucket list. It wasn’t until the Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Society of Canada closed Victoria’s MS physiotherapy centre and gym last year that I thought about it. In one fell swoop of the pen I watched 200 disabled people lose access to physiotherapy and their gym, and over 1,000 loose access to a community centre they had built over 40 years. I was mad, really mad, and I had to do something.
My open water swims have always carried a message about the value of exercise for those who have MS, or any disease or disability for that matter. I have no doubt that being healthy can be one of the best ways to manage what ails you. But this time I had to bring my message home – right to the door steps of Victoria. I needed to let Victoria know that I needed their help to help others. That we, the MS community are still here and we need your help in building a new centre.
I am not going to lie, I was terrified of swimming the strait. I had been told it was a very long, extremely cold and often a bumpy ride. I was discouraged by others from attempting it but about one week before Christmas the MS Society of Canada unexpectedly closed the doors to the our centre without notice. Dozens were left without treatment right before the holidays. I was crushed. I didn’t understand how a non-profit claiming to help us could be so cruel to us. I retreated into myself over the next week and then made the decision – I was going to swim Juan de Fuca Strait – #withMS4MS.
I set up this website on December 26, 2016, posted my first blog on December 28th and announced the swim on Facebook January 2, 2017. On July 31, 2017 at 7:15 am I entered the Juan de Fuca Strait from Dungeness Spit just outside of Port Angeles, USA wearing just a swimsuit, swim cap and goggles. The water was 11.1C. At 5:21 pm I completed the swim by exiting the water at Ogden point in Victoria, BC after 10hours and 6 minutes in cool waters. Donations for the newly formed MS Wellness Centre are still being accepted.
This swim could not have been done without your love and support. It is with the deepest gratitude that I thank you.