The technical side of the double crossing

Before sharing the technical details of my upcoming double cross attempt of Juan de Fuca Strait I feel it important to acknowledge that my swim will be taking place in the traditional territory of the Coast Salish People; specifically, the Lekwungen Territories of the Esquimalt and Songhees First Nations and the Klallam Territory of the Lower Elwha First Nation.

The Coast Salish have been fishing, hunting and harvesting in the Pacific Northwest for generations. There is evidence of human occupation of the region dating back 8000 years. I am both fortunate and honored to be swimming in their traditional territory.

The Route

I have chosen to swim from the Ogden Point in Victoria to Dungeness Spit just outside of Port Angeles. When I originally planned last year’s single crossing I was hoping to leave from Port Angeles as did swimmers of the past, however this would take me right through a shipping lane. The American Coast Guard suggested Dungeness Spit a few kilometres east of Port Angeles proper.

My understanding of the rule of Marathon Swimming is that the distance of a crossing is determined by its shortest possible route. There is a modern route from Port Crescent, Washington to East Sooke Park, British Columbia that is just under 17 kilometers. This route too is challenging and I could use it, however I personally believe I would not be honoring the swim or the swimmers of the past if I chose this route. If my name is to appear on the same list as Marilyn Bell and others for crossing Juan de Fuca Strait I want the distance to be equal to theirs or greater. I also do not want to leave people with the impression the swimmers of the past swam less than they did by branding a new Juan de Fuca crossing and not distinguishing it as shorter.

Throughout any ocean swim the shifting tide may push me off my straight-line course to the east or west, causing me to swim in an S shape as I make the crossing. This will undoubtedly increase my swim distance however as per the rules of marathon swimming I will only record the swim as a 66 (33 x 2) kilometer crossing regardless of the distance I cover. A current can work for or against you. If I was to record that which works against me, I should also record that which works for me. I figure it all evens out in the end. I am also aware that the boat carrying my distance tracker does a lot of back and forth and side to side as it moves to stay beside me. Each of these movements is added to the distance on the tracker making it impossible to determine what was swum. Hence the point to point measurement.

The Rules

I will be following English Channel marathon swimming rules for the swim. The English Channel is of historical significance and where I believe the rules of marathon swimming originated. It would likely be these rules that the original 6 Juan de Fuca swimmers used for their crossing.

I will swim with no more than a basic swim costume, cap and goggles. None of these items provide buoyancy or warmth. I will use no devices that aid me with the swim, such as a wetsuit, fins, paddles or pull buoy and I will not draft of any boat or person.

I will start my swim at Ogden Point, Victoria on dry land and enter the water on my own. I will swim across the strait and then exit the water to my knees* at Dungeness Spit or somewhere there about, turn around, swim back to Ogden Point, or somewhere there about, and exit the water on the same shore I started. Should I do this, the swim will be complete. Anything less will be a ‘did not finish’.

* Exiting the water entirely would require engaging US Customs. The US Customs office is West of Port Angeles in an area where I am not permitted to swim. Should I exit completely at Dungeness Spit I would be breaking the law. My swim director has arranged for an exit to the knees which is in line with English Channel Rules.


In order for my swim to be deemed valid it must be ratified. The Masters Swimming Association of British Columbia has kindly agreed to sanction and ratify my swim. I will have an official observer who will log my swim, including a GPS track, start, turn and stop time, water and air temperature, swim strokes per minute recorded every 30 minutes, what I eat and drink, my mood and comments as well as other details.

I believe it is important to share the technical side of my swim and the rules in advance so there is no opportunity for change to the rules and no surprises.


4 thoughts on “The technical side of the double crossing

  1. Amazing! Saw the article in Aug 8 edition of North Shore News and came to you ur website to learn more. May the swim be all that you could hope for and more!

  2. Susan,
    Thanks for sharing the technical side of marathon swimming. Many of us at the Banfield Park dock have been thinking of you and your upcoming swim and wondering about many of the issues you have covered (e.g. does she “have” to leave the water in Port Angeles; how long can she stay on land (in Port Angeles) prior to returning; etc.). Your post was perfect for letting us know the rules.
    We are all wishing you the best.
    PS: the Swim A Month club is meeting on August 19th at 6 pm at Curtis Point (I am sure you will be well rested by then since you will have been out of the water for at least 12 hours ;-))

  3. Susan,

    This article was really informative! Thanks for posting it. I wish you all the best for your swim, I’ll be there cheering you on.

  4. It’s so fantastic of you to be doing this for others. I couldn’t be happier for you that the day is now soon.
    Love to you and your team.
    Be safe. Be well. I’ll be following along closely.

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