Susan Simmons (left) and Alex Cape accomplished a 70km swim on Cowichan Lake last August, and are returning next month to make a world record-breaking attempt at a 105km swim, which will take them to each arm of the lake.

Cape and Simmons returning to Cowichan Lake for record-breaking swim

105km swim will raise money and awareness for Multiple Sclerosis treatment.

Susan Simmons and Alex Cape, two of Vancouver Island’s most prolific swimmers, have set their sights on Cowichan Lake, and are getting ready to hit the water later this month in an attempt to break a world record and raise money for Multiple Sclerosis (MS).

Simmons, a 50-year-old data services manager and Cape, a 35-year-old military paramedic, have already made a name for themselves through their aquatic feats, including a 70 km swim on Cowichan Lake last August, which took them from Lakeview Park to Heather Campsite and back. The swim took them 33 hours to complete and they managed to raise $5,000 for MS.

Now the duo is returning to the lake to rise to an even bigger challenge. Their new course will take them from Lakeview Park to Heather Campsite, back to Lakeview Park, to the northeast arm of the lake near Youbou, then back to Lakeview Park. The more than 105 km swim is expected to take 50 hours, and if completed, will replace the current world record for distance swam in flat water. The current record was achieved by fellow Canadian swimmer Vicki Keith, who swam a 104 km double crossing of Lake Ontario in 1987. Keith completed her swim in 56 hours and 10 minutes.

Members of the public are encouraged to come cheer them on at Lakeview Park or any checkpoint on the lake.

In addition to raising money for MS, Simmons, who suffers from the disease, said that she hopes their swim will raise awareness for using exercise as a form of treatment.

“When I was diagnosed 20 years ago, I was told not to exercise – lots of people were told the same thing, people still are,” she said. “You should always strive to be as healthy as you can, disease or not.”

In preparation for their record-breaking attempt, Simmons and Cape are asking people to declare their own “105s” on their website ( which they say will be used for inspiration along the way, as they are shouted from the boat accompanying them across the lake. As of Monday (July 20), 116 people have posted their own 105s, which are viewable form the website. The pledges range from swimming 105 lengths to cycling 105 km to doing 105 “chakra balances.”

“Everyone has a 105, they just have to set a goal,” Simmons said.

Simmons and Cape are scheduled to start the swim July 31 and complete their route on August 2. For more information, visit

Lake Cowichan Gazette

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