The Big Tough Swim

Join Victoria’s ultra-marathon swimmer and coach Susan and her team of Spirit Orcas as they attempt to swim from Jordan River to Colwood in four 15-kilometre staged swims.

The four-week Vancouver Island pioneer swim, dubbed the “Big Tough Swim,” is part of a multi-year training plan that also includes an attempt to swim around Hornby Island as well as across the Strait of Georgia in 2021, the Strait of Juan de Fuca in 2022 and from England to France, slated for sometime in 2023-2024.

The Spirit Orcas are a team of swimmers with developmental disabilities. They are divided into two groups — J-Pod and K-Pod — with J-Pod swimmers Drew Sabourin, Ben Vanlierop and Aly White intending to swim the entire Big Tough route. K-pod’s Cheyenne Furlong-Goos, Dixon McGowan, Meliah Motchman, Maria Sharock and Lidia White will join their teammates for a portion of the last leg of the swim. 

Marathon swimming in the frigid waters of the Strait of Juan de Fuca is an immense challenge. The same waves that make Jordan River famous as a surfing destination can be formidable to swim through. Besides ocean temperatures of about 10 Celsius, athletes will have to contend with sea swell from the openPacific ocean, currents of up to four kilometres per hour, jellyfish stings, orca encounters and other marine life.

The first leg of the Big Tough Swim, depending on weather and sea state, is slated to begin on Saturday, July 3, and the intended route is from Jordan River to Muir Creek.

The full swim schedule, depending on weather, is: