My Story

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.

 

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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.

Nominations & Awards

SWIMS

Great Bear Swim in the traditional territory of the Heiltsuk Nation

Salish Sea Series in the traditional territory of the Coast Salish Peoples

Lakes in British Columbia, Canada

  • 2023, All 21 for 21, 21km, unassisted
  • 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)

Swim Gift 

  • 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)

Special Olympics

  • 2010 to preset Head Coach, Victoria Special Olympics swim club 

Thetis Lake Swim 

Drifter’s Cove, Great Bear Rainforest