My Story

Born and raised in Montreal, Canada I am the daughter of two incredibly loving parents, Barbara and Richard Simmons – they have been married for 57 years and together for 60. I am blessed to have 3 incredible sisters; Laura, Robin and Valerie, and several nieces and nephews, and great nieces and nephews.

I now live in Victoria, Canada with my life partner Ray. We have been together for 25 years. My life is enriched by his presence and the quite moments we spend together on the water; Ray in his kayak and me swimming.

Ray and I were both child athletes and strongly connected to our families and communities. We value the natural environment, good health and communities.

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I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis over twenty years ago, I have chosen a lifestyle that manages the disease through physical fitness and diet. My number one form of exercise is swimming and my diet is vegan. Both minimize the stress on my body, making it possible for me to live an active life.

Swimming in the open-water provides me with a special kind of freedom. Multiple-Sclerosis is a cruel disease. While one of the best ways for me to manage it is to exercise, exercise is also one of the things that can cause me to over-heat and potentially lead to damaging attacks. The open-water keeps me cool where I am free to exercise.

Getting to where I am today has presented many challenges. When I first decided to exercise I had a difficult time walking a block. My initial pool swims were limited to 10 to 20 lengths followed by a 3 hour nap. Over time I built up my stamina and was able to swim for longer and longer periods of time. What soon followed was the ability to participate in other forms of exercise including kayaking, outrigger canoeing, cycling, weightlifting and Crossfit.

I wholeheartedly believe everyone is worth the effort it takes to be healthy, and for those of us with disease our first line of defense should be a healthy and fit self.

A few of my past swims