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Swimmers fall short of lake-circling goal

After swimming Cowichan Lake for more than two days straight, Alex Cape said she’s satisfied with stopping at 94 kilometres — just shy of her goal.

Cape, 35, set out Friday to swim 105 kilometres with her swimming partner Susan Simmons, 50, who had to give up at the 44-kilometre mark due to motion sickness associated with her multiple sclerosis.

Their goal was to complete the longest continuous, unassisted, solo lake swim on record.

After struggling with exhaustion, hallucination, Cape’s goal changed to 97 kilometres.

“I had never thought about getting out early. I went in with the idea that I was going start-to-finish and had no other options,” said Cape, who was recovering in hospital Monday.

By Sunday morning, she had trouble staying awake in the water. When her pace slowed to only one kilometre per hour and her support team told her there was a safe place to exit the water, she took it.

“I had to trust my friends. I saw it as a door opening and I had an opportunity and I didn’t feel like I was quitting,” Cape said.

More than 100 people volunteered to support them.

Simmons and Cape followed marathon rules, which meant they could not touch land until the swim finished; they did not use wetsuits or swim aids; and they were not allowed to draft off their escort boats or have physical contact with them.

Simmons was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis 20 years ago and began swimming 10 years ago to help manage the disease.

She said she did the swim to show that the disease isn’t necessarily as limiting as it seems.

Although their strategy was to pause every half hour to snack, Simmons said she couldn’t keep the food down, which affected her energy levels. She still swam another 18 hours after she began vomitting in the water.

“When you’re doing something like this, nutrition is key,” she said.

She said health has to be the top consideration, even if it means falling short of your goal.

“It doesn’t matter where you are in the swim, getting out is an extremely difficult decision. Ultimately, I think what you have to look at is your safety,” she said.

The pair swam 70 kilometres in Cowichan Lake in 2014.

Vicki Keith swam 104 kilometres in a two-way crossing of Lake Ontario in 1987. American Ted Erikson and Egyptian Abdel-Latif Abou-Heigh swam 96 kilometres on Lake Michigan in 1963.

Story Source: The above story is based on materials provided by TIMESCOLONIST
Note: Materials may be edited for content and length

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