Born and raised in Montreal, Canada I am the daughter of two incredibly loving parents, Barbara and Richard Simmons – they have been together for over 60 years. 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 28 years. My life is enriched by his presence and the quiet 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 community.
I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis over twenty-five 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 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 defence should be a healthy and fit self.
Great Bear Swim in the traditional territory of the Heiltsuk Nation
- 2022, Fitz Hugh Sound, 10km, unassisted, first know person (video)
- 2019, Burke to Koeye, 15 km, water 16C, unassisted, first known person (video)
- 2019, Fisher Channel / Burke Crossing, 18 km, water 16C, unassisted, first known person (videos: Fisher, Burke finish)
- 2018, Journey to Namu – Lama Pass across Fisher Channel Crossing, unassisted, 9C water, first known person (videos: Fisher 1, Fisher 2, )
- 2017, Lama Pass, 2 x 9 km over 2 days, 9C water, unassisted, first know person
- 2016, Ocean Falls to Stokes Island, 23km, 12C water, unassisted, first known person
- 2016, Stokes Island to Waglisa (Bella Bella), 23km, unassisted, first known person
- 2016, Drifter’s Cove to Shearwater, 10km, unassisted, first known person
Salish Sea Series in the traditional territory of the Coast Salish Peoples
- 2021, Sidney to and around James Island, 14km, unassisted, first known person
- 2020, Hornby Island, eco swim, 13km, assisted (fins) (video)
- 2020 The Great Big Swim, 80km staged, unassisted, water 9-14C, team swim with Spirit Orcas (video)
- 2019 Strait of Georgia, 29 km, unassisted, (completed 20km, exited, crew sick)
- 2019 Juan de Fuca Strait (Victoria to Dungeness), 33km, water 9-14C, unassisted (completed 15km, exited after being swept into active shipping lane)
- 2019 Haro Strait, 16 km, water 11C, unassisted, first known person
- 2018, Juan de Fuca Strait double crossing, 66km, unassisted (completed 7 hours in 9 – 11C, water, exited due to hypothermia)
- 2017, Juan de Fuca Strait, 33km, 11-13C water, unassisted, fastest known crossing (videos: mid-strait, finish)
- 2012, English Bay Challenge, 10km, wetsuit
- 2011, Strait of Georgia, 34km, relay, wetsuit
Lakes in British Columbia, Canada
- 2022, Power Lake 50 km (staged over 2 swims), unassisted, first known person (video: stage 1)
- 2022, All 21 for 21, 21km, unassisted
- 2021, Thetis Lake, Als 21 for 21, 21km, unassisted
- 2016, Cowichan Lake, attempted 105km, unassisted (completed 35 km, exited due to extreme motion sickness)
- 2015, Cowichan Lake, attempted 105km, unassisted (completed 42 km, exited due to extreme motion sickness)
- 2014, Cowichan Lake, 70km, unassisted
- 2013, Cowichan Lake, 34km, unassisted
- 2011, Thetis Lake Swim, 5km, unassisted
COACHING & EVENT ORGANIZING
Spirit Orcas (coach and event organizer)
- 2022, Hunter Channel 15 km Relay (Great Bear Rainforest)
- 2022, Al’s 21 for 21 (Aly, Drew)
- 2022, K-pod’s 10 km swims at Pat Bay (Dixon, Lidia, Meliah)
- 2021, J-Pod’s 35km Relay, Lake Cowichan
- 2021, Al’s 21 for 21 (10 km)
- 2021, K-pod’s 5 km swims at Pat & Tribune Bay
- 2020, Great Big Swim (80 km staged on Vancouver Island)
- 2019, Gunboat Pass 25 km Relay (Great Bear Rainforest)
- 2019, Meliah’s Great Big Swim
- 2018, Lake Cowichan 35km Relay
- 2022 Charity Challenge
- 2021 to present Swim Gift/Swimming with Spirit Orcas Swim Club
Pearson College (coach & crew)
- 2022/23 Race Rocks Challenge 3 (6km)
- 2021/22 Race Rocks Challenge 2 (6km) (cancelled due to COVID-19
- 2019/20, Race Rocks Challenge 1 (6km)
- 2010 to preset Head Coach, Victoria Special Olympics swim club
Thetis Lake Swim
- 2011 – 2019 Event Director