Swim MS

Swimming to support those with Multiple Sclerosis

Susan May 9 to 15

Weekly Log May 9 – May 15


Monday, May 9

Day of rest. Still thinking I should be in the water on Mondays and that my volume is too low but when I look back I realize why I am so tired : ) 

Tuesday, May 10

PM: Great paddle with Ocean River. 1 hour in the OC6. Lots and lots of waves and some crazy currents. Really good to see all of that from above the water. It gets me thinking about different ways I may have to swim.

Wednesday, May 11

AM: 2.5km swim with Tyee. We did a train swim as part of the workout. I love the train. Drafting makes swimming so darn tootin easy.

PM: I was going to the lake to swim but opted to hook up with Tyee instead. One of my Special Olympic athletes went missing. It was very worrisome as it was all over the media. I was quite frightened for her. I wanted to be near home.

About half way through my workout I checked my phone and she had been found. Phewww…

4.5 km swim

Thursday, May 12

PM: Fun paddle in the OC6. It’s really nice out these days. I think the extra vitamin D is helping me. We played in some serious waves. 1 hour total.

Hit the pool right after for a 2km swim. 16 x 25 fly walkback sprints for the feature set. Held 19/20 throughout.

Friday, May 13

AM: 2.5km swim with Tyee. Very aerobic set. 400 + 4 x 100 repeated.  I had physio right after. We tried needles in my shoulder this time. Crossing my fins it works.

PM: Wee little ocean swim with my beautiful friends Pam. We hit the water atVCKC and then went under the Tilicum Street bridge and swam up toward the trestle. The water was an unbelievable 22C. I thought we had only swim 1km total but it turns out it was about 3km. That’s what happens when I’m with Pam. Too much fun and we lose track of distance and time.

Saturday, May 14

Good solid workout in the OC6. 2.3 hours. Some nice long pieces.

I wanted to swim at the lake after but my poor kayaker was burnt out from the OC workout, so I took him out for a hungry man brunch.

I spent the rest of the day working on greatbearswim.com. I told myself if I was not going to swim I had to do something useful, and I did. I finally launched the website!

Sunday, May 15

Really good swim at Thetis Lake. 4 swims, 1 kick, 2 swims, 1 kick for a total of 8 loops (12 km). My shoulder was done by the end though. I wanted to do more but I have to hold back for a bit. So hard……

A few other bits

I am quite worried about my shoulder. This little injury is hanging in quite nicely. I will start icing at night after I swim to keep the inflammation down.

MS Notes

I was very MSie on Sunday. Some days I can just feel the numbness working its way through my body. Not much I can do about it except monitor it, and not aggravate it.

Next Steps

  1. Next week is Nationals. I need to get my head in the game for that and figure out my training schedule while away. I would like to do some long swims at Point Claire.

  2. I need to figure out how to get more cold water swims in. The temperatures at Great Bear are rising but I am still worried about the possibility of 10C water.

Susan May 2 to 8

Weekly Log –May 2 – May 8


Monday, May 2

Whoops, buddy forgot to put the kayak on the roof rack. No swim tonight. Which is likely good as I am not supposed to train on Mondays!

Tuesday, May 3

The weather is getting so nice. Paddling after work is fantastic. I love it. 1 hour in the OC6. Played in some great waves. Weeeee! I wanted to jump in and swim J

Wednesday, May 4

AM: morning swim with Tyee. My shoulder is tweaked so I kicked 2.5km, the last 1km hard with my fins.

I went to physio at Arbutus. Sandy always makes me feel better, but she usually hurts me first. Definitely have some inflammation in my right shoulder that needs tending too – but we have a plan!

PM: Temperature check at Thetis. I swam for 30 minutes in 16C. I am going to shoot for 4-6 hours on the weekend.

Thursday, May 5

PM: Another great OC6 paddle in the inner harbour and beyond. We went out to Brotchie. Lots of fun currents.

2 km swim with Vic Masters. We worked on breakouts for a good chunk of the workout.

Friday, May 6

AM:  Slept in. Saving it for the weekend.

PM: Dinner with a friend. Trying to keep my social life while training for these long swims can be a challenge. But I am definitely doing better than last year.

Saturday, May 7

AM: OC6 race around Brotchie. 13km. No wind, no current. Very hard paddle. Tough race but we did it.

Headed to Crystal pool for a 7km swim. It was good to get into my head after the paddle. Lots of frustrations, lots to think about.

Sunday, May 8

The official start to open water – 4 hour swim at Thetis in 16c water. 2 x (2 swims + 1 kick) for a total of 9km. I would have liked to have done more but I am also aware I am in a new environment and need to work it up slowly. No more flip turns, yahoo!

A few other bits

Lots of planning going on these days with the Thetis Lake Swim for MS, Great Bear and Cowichan. Will have to protect my time as we get closer to the swims.

MS Notes

I ran into a really good friend over the weekend who also has MS – and uses diet and fitness to manage it. She mentioned to me a bit of a setback that she had one day while racing. It reminded me how fragile our bodies truly are and that with MS, anything can happen at any time.

Next Steps

  1. 10 km + 15km Lake swim at Thetis over the weekend


Susan April 25 to May 1

Weekly Log –April 25 to May 1


Monday, April 25

AM: sleep, sleep and more sleep!

PM: 5.2km swim at the Y. Easy 100s on my own and then jumped in with Y Masters for a 2.5km swim. Very tired from Provincials, it was hard to swim. Stuck it out to the end but it wasn’t pretty. I need to learn the meaning of the words “recovery time”

Tuesday, April 26

PM: 1 hour in the OC6. Some good waves out there tonight. Did both motion and cold water training! Followed this up with a 2.5km swim with Vic Masters coached by my favorite otter- Lauren. Great combo of distance and sprints.

Wednesday, April 27

AM: Tyee masters for 2.5kms. 500 warm-up followed by OW starts and blind swimming (interesting). I spoke to coach Mike about my results from the meet on the weekend. My 400 IM was close to 1 minute faster than when I time trialed. He asked a great question to which I still do not know the answer – “What is the difference between a TT and a race?”

PM: 2.5km swim on my own and 3km swim with YMCA. It was my last night with the Y. I have put my membership on hold so I can lake swim.

Thursday, April 28

PM: Good times with Victoria Masters. 2.5km swim. Mixed sets

Friday, April 29

AM: 3km with Tyee. Almost all kick. Moved to lane 1 so I could make the times with no fins. Protecting the shoulder.  Left a bit early for my flight to Bella Bella.

PM: WOW! What a day. I flew from Victoria to Vancouver to Campbell River to Bella Bella. We had a quick meeting with the Heiltsuk Nation to talk about the swim and request their permission to film it. I also got to meet Louisa, a Heiltsuk with MS.  I hope to meet her a lot more.

Colette, (a good friend who is helping organize the swim), Dale (my swim buddy), Kevin (Colette’s brother and my pilot for the swim) and I met in Shearwater, hopped in a boat and then made our way to Ocean Falls, following the route we hope to take along the way.

The trip through Gunboat passage was incredible. It’s a beautiful passage with lots of interesting nooks and crannies along the way. I got a good sense of what it is like when there is wind and where the sun sits. Gunboat represents about 25 km of the swim. At the end of the passage we found our camping spot! There’s a sandy beach which makes it easy to land.

Once we were through Gunboat we made our way up Cousins Inlet.  This is the other 25km piece. There’s a narrows about half way up the inlet with different weather conditions in each of the areas along the way. Just outside of Ocean Falls there is a small village with about 100 houses. Really great boat launch there.

Looking up from the village you can see structures in the distance. It’s a beautiful area. So peaceful. The mountains hug the water all the way to the falls.

Saturday, April 30

One of my goals for the weekend was to test the waters of Ocean Falls, so Dale and I did. It was cold both out and in the water. I am not sure what the air temperature was but the water was 9.5. I think we were in for 15 minutes or so. Colette and Kevin made us a lovely fire for when we got out.

Sunday, May 1

My last day in Great Bear. We went to Kevin’s for breakfast, which is on Denny Island on the way to Bella Bella. I jumped in the water again. It was 9.5 but somehow didn’t feel as cold as yesterday. This truly is about immersing yourself so you get used to the cold.

Dale has suggested we do a trial swim from Kevin’s to Bella Bella. It’s about 7km. Hope to return in June.

A few other bits

A very exciting week. You could see the Great Bear Swim coming together as the days progressed over the weekend. As I always do I worry that my volume isn’t there. And I worry about the Cowichan 105. Not sure I can do much about that. Seems to be the nature of my beast; worrying.

MS Notes

All good!

Next Steps

  1. Thetis Lake swims on Monday/Wednesday/Friday nights and weekends when possible

  2. Plan another trip to Great Bear for a trial swim

  3. Plan when I will do 3 x 35 at Cowichan.

Susan April 18 to 24

Weekly Log –April 18 to April 24


Monday, April 18

Pooped after Special O regionals. Lots of fun but man it can make you tired J

PM: 6km swim. The first three on my own as 6 x (400 swim + 100 kick) and the second 3 with Vic Y. Did a great set of 60 25s fly – first 30 on 30, second 30 on 40. Felt good to push myself a bit.

Tuesday, April 19

PM: 1.5 hour paddle in the OC6. Working on gears. It was a good long steady paddle and its great to be out in the boat.

Wednesday, April 20

AM: 3.2 km swim with Tyee. Sets of 300 swim + 200 kick. I love kicking. Felt good in the water and was able to pick up the pace a bit.

I haven’t been drinking enough water these days so have made a point of increasing my consumption during the day.

PM: Sweet little swim at the Y. Started with 500 warm-up, 500 pull, 1km pull/paddle and 500 paddle and then joined the Y masters for some 400s + 150s kick. I’m digging the longer stuff. Should tweaked a bit so kicked more at the end. Will have to keep an eye on it as my volume increases again

Thursday, April 21

PM: 5km swim. First 2.5 on my own – second with Vic Masters.

Friday, April 22

Provincials at Watermainia. First event: 1500. I wasn’t sure if I would push myself or not as I signed up for some big ones over the weekend. When I hit the water my body decided for me. I was moving quite nicely throughout. Held a steady pace of 1:35 throughout. Was interesting to look back at the pace times. There was one moment where I paused to catch my breath. You could see it in the times. I was quite happy with the swim as I have generally swum at a 1:40 to 1:45 pace during training for the past few years because of volume. Didn’t really think I could move faster than that. I could feel my MS while swimming but it wasn’t serious enough that I needed to stop. Somehow I know these things. I really don’t understand it, but am fortunate I do.

Saturday, April 23

Day 2 of Provincials.

Today’s events: 200 fly, 200 IM, 400 free. All swims were strong. I have gone faster in the past but based on the pace slow down for the past few years I was quite happy. I managed to break the provincial record in the 200 fly. It was a funny little discovery. I was reviewing my times that night at the hotel and saw a P by my time. I thought for sure I was disqualified as I had no idea what P meant. Then I checked the legend and thought - huh, that’s kind neat. I wasn’t quite concerned about pushing it during that particular event as I was MSee all over. I could feel a thin sheet of numb, so I coasted. I guess the turtle does win sometimes J

Sunday, April 24

Day 3 of Provincials. Today’s events, 800 Free, 100 Fly, 400 IM. After the 800 free I was spent. All the high volume swimming was getting to me. But I had only 2 events left so I made myself stick them out, even if I had to turtle them.

All times were great. I left feeling happy and confident about my swimming.

A few other bits

It was super fun to be at Provincials. I haven’t been in a swim meet in a few years. I think it was a great break from the distance swimming (although I still did just over 20 km this week) and nice to push myself a bit. I’ve signed up for Nationals in May and hope to improve my times.

MS Notes

The MS side of me was definitely present all weekend. Some people say their MS veered it’s ugly head, I say it popped by to say hello. I was very careful to drink lots of water, eat on a regular basis, and eat healthy. I also made sure to have quiet time, something I find very helpful. I opted to not go to the banquet on Saturday night as I though sleep would be a better choice. My MS appreciated it!

Next Steps

  1. Head up to Ocean Falls and explore the possibility of a swim

  2. Look at schedule and get volume training back on track

Susan April 11 to 17

Weekly Log –April 11 to April 17


Monday, April 11

Tired. So Tired! I went home right after work and straight to bed.

Tuesday, April 12

Managed a 2km swim (20 x 100 @ 2) with Jill before coaching Special O and then a 2.5km swim with Vic masters. It was a nice mixed workout. Lots of 25s and then 3 sets of 50/100/150/100. Pace times were tough on the 100 and 150 but I was able to make it. Really worked the speed. Felt great after. It’s kind of interesting because many of my swims are long and slow. I often wonder how long I could manage the tighter pace ones if I pushed myself.

Wednesday, April 13

Morning swim with Tyee. Started with a few flag starts for open water then moved onto a steady set of 200 swim/100 kick for 1800. In the end we managed about 3km.

I have replaced evening spin with swim time at the Y. The goal is 3km on my own and 3km with the group so I am accustomed to the 3km swims at Thetis during the week. I was able to get through 2km (started late) and then 3km. The workout with the Y included a number of IM sets and some 400s.

Thursday, April 14

Great fly set with Vic Masters in the evening. 3 x 8 x 25 dropping 10 seconds every 20. Held 20 seconds throughout most of it. I need to work my kick a bit more.

Friday, April 15

No morning swim. Feeling weak. Was up in the middle of the night.

Great technique swim with Tyee in the evening. Did some work on kicking hard while swimming. It always feels so strange when I do this but apparently it looked fine. Swam about 2km total.

Saturday, April 16

I headed to Comox this weekend for the Special Olympics Regional Championships. I had about 30 athletes swimming! It was fabulous. They swam beautifully. Two of the women swam the 200 fly. Very inspiring.

Sunday, April 17

Second day of regionals. Lots of things to keep me inspired!

A few other bits

I am feeling a bit dehydrated these days. I need to be more aware of my water intake. I was part of a water club at work for quite some time. I moved location a week or so ago and no longer have a water cooler nearby. Convenience really does help so I have started a new water club in my new work space.

I keep having those nagging feelings that I am not doing enough but when I looked back at how much I swam this week without swimming on the weekend there was a sigh of relief. I also looked at the calendar and I still have some time to go to the swim. I want to be sure I do not burn out so I think the slow-down was good for me.

Next week I put my membership on hold with the YMCA so I can start training at Thetis! This is going to be great. I will miss my friends at the Y but the change will be good.

All good!

Susan April 4 to April 10

Weekly Log –April 4 to April 10


Monday, April 4

First day back in the water. Morning swim with Tyee. Cough was manageable provided I did not push the speed. 2km swim + 100m TT. Felt great to be back in the water.

Evening session was a 40min spin + 2.5km swim. Lots of free and back drills. Cough was a bit more active but still manageable. I will try to swim more workouts during the week in order that I can decrease distance on the weekend.

Tuesday, April 5

Day of rest

Wednesday, April 6

Morning session was a 2km swim + 400 IM TT. Swam 7:20 very comfortably at my 70km pace. Would like to see what happens with the time in a race.

Evening session was a 45 minute spin + 3km swim. I have stopped doing weights as I will be ramping up my swim volume. I typically stop at this time of year.

Thursday, April 7

Vic Masters! 2.5km recovery swim.  Mixed sets. Was fun.

Friday, April 8

I am feeling a wee bit tired. I have decided to rest up for my longer swims this weekend.

Saturday, April 9

10km swim at the Y. 500, 1k, 2k, 3k, 2k, 1k + 500 (25 fly / 25 recovery). A good workout. It was nice to be in for the long swim.

Sunday, April 10

Vic Masters for the first big (3k) and then another 7km on my own.  I’ve been focusing on doing 1k+ sets for the long swims. I did a nice 20 minute eggbeater set at the end (a feeding thing) where I was 1 minute hard/1 minute easy.  Jill Yoneda joined me for a portion of the swim.

Right after the swim Jill and I headed to Thetis Lake for a temperature check. The water was so clear. It’s so beautiful and calm at this time of year.  Water was 10C. We stayed in for 20 minutes. I did not find it too cold. I guess the dip in Nanaimo when it was 5C really put things into perspective.

A few other bits

I was so glad to get back in the water this week. I didn’t swim as much as I would have liked to but I have to remind myself that even though I didn’t I still swam quite a bit. I still worry that I am not swimming enough. Since getting sick my volume is down from last year.

I am super happy I was in the lake and am looking forward to the switch at the end of the month.

The next few weeks are going to be a bit tough to manage swim wise as I have a number of weekend commitments (Special O Regionals/MSABC Provincials + a trip to Bella Bella). I hope to do more during the week to make up for what will be missed on the weekend.

All is good.

Susan March 21 to 27

Weekly Log –March 21 to 27


Monday, March 21

Very tired. Went hope after work to lay down. I can feel my body is depleted and I can’t seem to eat fast enough to get what I need.

Tuesday, March 22

Still tired but not as hungry. A bit sore from the weekend but nothing major. Enjoying my day of rest.

Wednesday, March 23

AM: swim with Tyee. Moving, but not fast. It was a good swim though. 600, 400, 200 with 50s between.

PM: 45 Minute spin, 3.2k swim and one hour of weights (progressive load). Swim was 400s. Still not moving quickly, at least until 30 minutes in, then I was able to pick it up. The weights woke my body up. I felt great when I left.

Thursday, March 24

OK, this is not good. My body is falling apart. My nose is really runny and I am sore all over. No swimming for me tonight. I had to leave work at noon as I was deteriorating rapidly.

Friday, March 25

Early morning flight to Toronto for a Masters Swim Canada meeting over the weekend.

Saturday, March 26

All day meeting. I am very sick. I am coughing all the time and feel really weak. Skipped out on the team dinner and went to my hotel room to sleep. Worried about how I will get home feeling this way.

Sunday, March 27

Morning meeting with MSC, a quick lunch and then off to Montreal. I am still really sick but not as bad as last night. Rest was helpful.

A few other bits

Mom set up an air purifier and humidifier for me at my home away from home. I cancelled all social engagements so I can focus on getting better. I was hoping to swim at Pointe Claire while here but I am far too sick.

These are the times where I am afraid of what will happen with my MS if I don’t take care to get better.



Susan March 14 to 20

Weekly Log –March 14 to 20


Monday, March 7

Still humming and hawing about Monday workouts. I swam only 7 hours yesterday so thought I should workout today to make up for the 2 hours missed.  In the end I opted to go home and rest. It turns out it was a wise choice as I was exhausted.

Tuesday, March 8

Day 2 of rest. Learning to respect the need to recover.

Wednesday, March 9

I woke up half an hour early this morning. I don’t seem to be effected by the time zone change. Loving the light and the sound of the baby ducks outside my window in the morning.

3km morning swim with Tyee.  Lots of 400s. Started slow; ended fast. Felt great by the end.

Great, great, great workout at the Y in the evening. 45 minute spin, 3.5km swim and 1 hour of weights. We were 3 women in the lane for the swim, all similar in times. Very supportive and encouraging of one another. Lots of 150s and 200s. Good swim, great vibe. Weights was progressive load of 10 to 15 pds per set. I am able to lift more now. I will need to start thinking about when to begin to phase out the weight lifting.

Thursday, March 10

Vic Masters swim was great. Set of broken 200s. I was able to bring my time down on each by 3 seconds. Cough a lot. Looking forward to seeing my homeopath Friday to see if there is more I can do to minimize the cough.

Friday, March 11

No morning swim. Enjoying bed too much. Wanting to make sure I am ready for this weekend.

Evening swim with Tyee. Dexter coached. Lots of nifty drills. It was super fun and very helpful. Great way to go into the weekend. 1.5 to 2km swim.

Saturday, March 12

2 hour outrigger in the morning. Warm-up + 3 x 20 minutes + cool-down. Good steady paddling. Enjoyed being out on the water. We went to Clover point to see if the beached barge has been removed. Saw a few eagles and a very playful sea lion.

10km swim in the afternoon. 100m to 1km and back to 100m. Nice and steady. Lots of kick. 4 hours.

Sunday, March 13

9 hour swim. Not sure how much I swam as I stopped counting at one point. I was on my own from 9 to 10am then met up with Vic Masters for a sprint workout. Moved into 1km sets, did a bit of swimming with Aly and Ingrid (more fun stuff) and then 500s and then later met up with Mercury Rising for their workout. Definitely ramped up the speed for that one! Ended with a 500 and sets of 100s. I used a variety of food including bars, gel packs and bananas. The bananas were a great addition.  I was pooped at the end. MS showed up at the 8 hour mark.

A few other bits

I felt stronger this week then last, especially on Wednesday and then again on Saturday morning. I can also feel the energy build when I take time off.

My long swims are getting easier but swimming in the pool is getting harder. I am craving a good lake swim and hope to check things out soon. My plan is to start with shorter swims in the lake on Saturdays and eventually switch Sundays swim to the lake as well.

Food seems to be working well. One thing I know for certain is I need to eat light at the beginning. If I start with something heavy I feel nauseous.

My forearms went numb on Sunday after 8 hours in. May have been the pool was warm or could be from the volume over the weekend. Something to keep an eye on as things get longer.

Susan March 7 to 13

Weekly Log –March 7 to 13


Monday, March 7

Day 1 of or rest. Glad too! Pooped.

Tuesday, March 8

Day 2 of rest. I can feel the energy building up inside of me. I am ready to swim again but will wait until tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 9

AM: 3km swim with Tyee. Steady aerobic workout – 400s. Mike videoed me. We have been working on my catch. I am not straight arm pulling as much as I was but need to bend a bit more up front. He has given me some skulling drills I can play around with on the weekend.

PM: Great workout at the Y. Felt fantastic! 45 minute spin, 3.5km swim (split 300s moving faster each one) and 1 hour of weights (increased load by 10 to 15 pds each set of 10).

Thursday, March 10

PM: Vic Masters. Great speed work set. Mixed 100s, 50s, 25s. Swam fly as much as I could.

Friday, March 11

AM: missed my swim

PM: I am burnt out, not physically but emotionally. I am coming to the end of a significant project at work and am feeling it. Lots of change coming up in the next few weeks. I will need to prepare mentally and make sure to protect myself both mentally and physically as change can be stressful and hard on my MS.

Saturday, March 12

2 outrigger canoe races today in Nanaimo around Newcastle and Protection Islands. The first one was 6 km with a novice crew. Lots of fun. Had to work really hard to keep the boat moving. Started at 9am and it took about 1 hour.

Second race was with an open crew. This one started at 1pm and was 12km. It took about 1 hour 20 minutes. Great crew. I had them do a progressive power build over the last 10 minutes. Some fun water. It was great to be on the ocean.  Solid workout.

I headed to Nanaimo with Jill and Ray after and met up with Beluga Bill and Deb. Bill and I jumped in the ocean for 15 minutes. He swam, I waffled. It was tough! The water was 5C.

Sunday, March 13

I opted to swim for 7 hours today instead of 9. I convinced myself that the time zone change and a 5 year olds birthday party were good enough reasons. But it was really because I was a bit sore from Saturday’s races.

Solid swim. I felt strong in the water but was interrupted by lots of chatty breaks. I did not count my kilometerage – just kept swimming. I could feel the fatigue really setting in a bit at the end.

A few other bits

I am a bit disappointed with my kilometerage this week but I will admit that I do feel stronger in the water these days. The seven hour swim was easier than I thought it would be on Sunday. My approach next week will be to add 2 hours on Friday night to my routine, swim 4 hours on Saturday and then 9 hours on Sunday. This will be somewhere between 30 and 40 kilometers over the weekend and close to 50 for the week.  As time goes on I will increase both the Friday night and Saturday swims.

I was so happy to have jumped in the ocean even if it was 5C. I love swimming with Beluga Bill. He is such a positive influence. He knew I was struggling with the cold and looked at me and said “It’s all up here.” I need to make sure he comes to my swim and if there is a point when I want out I will have him remind me that it’s “all up here.” He is a great source of mental strength.

No MS issues during this weeks’ long swim!

Susan February 29 to March 6

Weekly Log – Feb 29 to March 6


Monday, Feb 29

No workout today. Exhausted. My body feels very depleted and I am quite flush. A bit of numbness in my legs, likely caused by the rise in my body temperature. I am starving but my belly is full. I need to refuel!

I spent the evening listening to nomeatathlete.com – some great podcasts by a vegan ultra-runner. I’m gathering up some ideas around fuel. I will be spending my down days learning and preparing psychologically.

Tuesday, March 1

I am still feeling very depleted so checked back on last year’s program. I only did 2 or 3 18km swims during the season. This season I am doing a lot more long long swims which I think is good, I just need to make sure I book in adequate recovery time. I am going to switch my schedule so I no longer workout on Monday/Tuesday and swim Friday night instead. I think this is a good switch and the timing is good.

Wednesday, March 2

AM: Managed to get up for my morning workout.  This is an improvement from last week. Swam 3km with Tyee (Sets of 400 + 4x50). Nice long and steady swim. Feel a bit off but it is great to be back in the water.

PM: Someone was using the spin bike when I arrived at the Y so I switched to the URG and Walkalator for 30 minutes of cardio. Great 4km swim. Mixed 200s. Started slow but was able to kick it up a notch mid-way through.  1 hour weights. Hard reps. Increased load. Felt great when I left the Y

Thursday, March 3

PM: Fun speed work with Victoria Masters. Interesting sets. Swam about 2km. One of my Special Olympic Athletes needed help with their handy dart so I had to get out a bit early.

Friday, March 4

AM: Why am I so tired? Sore? I’m not getting up!

Saturday, March 5

OC6 Sprint race on the Gorge. I paddled 2 races with a novice crew, each 1,500m or 10 minutes. It was lots of fun. Hard work though as the crew was new. We did great.

Sunday, March 6

10:00 AM start with Victoria Masters. Some sprint work. Once they were done I moved into 1km pieces and then some 500s. Swam for 4 hours (10km). I was pretty beat up at the end. It was a very busy, active weekend.

A few other bits

WOW, tough week even though it was a down week. I think the two weeks up are really good for pushing my limits. By the time they are done I truly need the down week and am taking full advantage of it. Good lesson for me to learn. I often feel I am not working hard enough or swimming enough but I can honestly say I am not sure how I could fit more in without giving myself time to recover. I’ve re-jigged my schedule to make sure I have time for recovery and will keep reminding myself of the importance of this. Two days of rest and I am back into the 2 week up cycle. I’m looking forward to the challenge.

Definitely feeling some stuff after the second long swim last Sunday but I think it was well managed with recovery. One thing I will need to sort out is the difference between how hypothermia and MS feel. The tingling body sensation is very similar.


Susan February 22 to 28

Weekly Log – Feb 22 to 28


Monday, Feb 15

AM: nice sleep in after yesterday’s long long swim and a sleepless night.

PM: light workout at the YMCA. 45 minutes spin, 2.5km swim-cruise, and 45 minutes of weights (lightened the load). The swim felt great. Focused on technique.

Tuesday, Feb 16

PM:   Coached Special Olympics. They work so hard!

Wednesday, Feb 17

AM:    My body is still pretty beat –up.  Feeling a thin layer of numbness.  Going to sleep in.

PM:   Great workout tonight. The extra rest did me good. 45 minute spin, 3.2km swim + 1 hour weights increasing load. Main swim set was 100, 200, 400, 800, 400, 200, 100. I got faster as we progressed through the set.

* I always seem to do better with 2 full days of rest after a big ol swim.

Thursday, Feb 18

PM:    Coached Special O. We did a mock swim meet for those not going to regionals. I love the support the athletes give one another.

2.2km swim with Victoria Masters. Mixed stroke. Short distances. Lots of coughing when I swim faster.

Friday, Feb 19

AM:    No sleep. Up at 1:00 and then just couldn’t get back to sleep.

3 km swim with Tyee. Sets of 500 with toys. Was moving slowly but felt ok.

Worried I am getting into bad sleep patterns again.               

Saturday, Feb 20

AM:    3km OC1 (Ocean Canoe) time trial. It took about 25 minutes. Not bad for my first time out.

PM: early afternoon swim at Crystal. 6km. 1km sets. Now that I have the 9 hour swims on Sunday going I thought it would be good to start adding a bit of volume on Saturdays.

Sunday, Feb 21

AM:    Started at 9am for a 9 hour swim. I went into this one sore from the OC1 time trial on Saturday. I think that is good though as I need to be comfortable being uncomfortable. Started with 500m pieces for 2.5km then joined Vic Masters for 3km which included some bucket work and an 800m time trial (13.55 – pacing at 1:45 lc). Moved into 1km sets with bucket on/off after that, and then 500m sets with bucket on/off. I could really feel the effect of the bucket by about 1pm (5 hours in). Did 100s/50s/25s to end the sets, always bucket on/off.

I was exhausted at the end but stayed for Huli drills (tipping the boat and getting back in) with my outrigger club after. I had about 800 calories during the swim which isn’t enough. I think it forgot to eat at a certain point. I am good with the bars and cookies. I tried a smoothie this time to see how my body would respond. I found I wasn’t able to get enough calories in when I drank it so will need to be careful how often I use them in the swim.

A few other bits

I really need to keep on top of my sleep and my cough. I am finding the 9 hour swims a real challenge. I checked back to last year’s log and I think I only did 2 or 3 of these throughout the season. I think they are good for me so will continue but I will not plan on any activity Monday and Tuesday after these swims.

I like the idea of 2 weeks up and 1 week down so will continue with this. On my down weeks I will limit Saturday and Sunday to 10km each day.  The next step will be to slowly add more volume to Saturday swims on the up days. I am at 6km so will likely go to 8 and then 10 on the next 2 up weeks.

MS gave me a bit of trouble this week. Nothing that can’t be managed. It was more about reminding me that it is there and not going away. I have modified my diet to include more nutrients to help manage the symptoms – more raw foods. I have also added Vitamineral Green and Co-Q10.


Susan February 15 to 21

Weekly Log – Feb 15 to 21


Monday, Feb 15

AM:   Morning swim with Tyee. Mike joked that I should swim the main set all fly – so I did.

            500 w/u

            15 x 100 fly w/fins @ 2

            500 pull/paddle

            Felt great after this set. The fly part made me happy as I wasn’t sure I would make it.

PM:   1 hour spin + 1 hour weights.

            Meeting with Dale and Jill for the inside passage swim. Our dates are July 11 to 17 – one month before Cowichan and the 105 redo.

Tuesday, Feb 16

PM:   Great workout with Victoria Masters. We did a test set. 8 x 100 @ 1:45. I went into it thinking I would be between 1:35 and 1:40. Held 1:35 right through. I was happy with the time. It would be good to work it down to 1:30 though.

Wednesday, Feb 17

AM:    Tyee’s new coach Claudia coached this morning. I have to get used to her coaching. It was a good kick workout (400 swim + 4x100 kick / 300 swim + 3x100 kick / etc. Looking forward to more of her workouts.  I felt sluggish. Nothing to do with Claudia or her set, just me in the morning or maybe from the test set last night.

PM:   Had to go to Vic General for an MRI. My neurologist wants to see if any new lesions have developed on my spine or in my brain. It was a bit of a stressful test as I had to lay all the way in the tube for about 45 minutes. I couldn’t move or see anything so it’s kinda like being in a coffin.  I was ok for most of it but when the really loud drilling sound started I would go into panic mode. I think I will count this as a workout because of how stressed my body was and how tired I was after.

Thursday, Feb 18

PM:    Vic Masters sprints with Dale – weeeeee

            I had a choice between 24 x 50 or 24 x 25. I opted for the 25s so I could do fly right through. It felt great.

Friday, Feb 19

AM:    Whoopsie, I was a wee bit sick in the middle of the night and threw up several times.  When I woke up in the morning my stomach muscles were really sore. I decided to not swim or work. Not able to eat. Coach potato day for me.

Saturday, Feb 20

AM:    Tummy is better. Must have been something I ate or a very strange bug. I hopped in an OC6 for about 1.5 hours. It felt great. I haven’t paddled much this year. I need to do it more.

            It was really good to be out in the open water but it’s still a bit too cold to jump in. About 9C

Sunday, Feb 21

AM:    8 hour swim today. I meant to do 9 but I thought the pool closed at 5. Will get it right next time.

            I started on my own with 500 m sets and then hooked up with Vic Masters for some fun with sprints. Main set was 16 x 50 lc fly/free, fast/easy. I held 45 for most of the Fly.

            Once Vic Masters finished I moved into the long sets swimming 2km pieces until about 2 and then 1km sets. Aly White joined me for a bit. We did a fly sprint set after the 14km mark ( 2x (10 x 25 @ 40 + 500 kick)). Finished with 4x(5x100). My last set was on 1:45 with paddles. Held 1:35.

            I realized after that although I had a bit of food every time I finished a set (either 1 or 2 km) I likely didn’t eat enough. I had my pre-workout drink for energy and electrolytes + 2 vega bars throughout the day. Need to up the food intake more and really get used to it after the 6 hour mark. That’s where things go wonky

A few other bits

It was a good get back into the groove week. Looking forward to next week.

No MS symptoms this week.

Susan February 8 to 14

Weekly Log – Feb 8 to 14



Monday, Feb 8

I am still not feeling 100% and am so worried I will get sick again. I am taking one more day to be sure and will move back into training slowly.

Tuesday, Feb 9

PM:   Jumped in the water tonight with Vic Masters. Weeeeeee.

My cough is just about gone! I am going to try to ramp up my swimming a bit but will move slowly as I feel as though I am gasping for air at times. We did a fantastic 2.7km distance swim workout. Loved every minute of it.

Wednesday, Feb 10

AM:    Morning swim with Tyee. We did a series of 400s. Moving slow but I am ok with that.

            Had to jump out early for work. 2km swim

PM:   Back at the YMCA. Nice 45 minute spin, 2.5km swim and 1 hour of weights. We did a lot of 200s free/breast. It was quite nice. I usually don’t swim that much breaststroke but I liked that I challenged myself

Thursday, Feb 11

PM:    Coached Special O right before Vic Masters. One of the athletes was sick all over the deck right beside the pool. EW. I opted of swimming. Still a bit paranoidI will get sick again + I can’t get the lovely picture of chum out of my head.

Friday, Feb 12

AM:   Morning swim with Tyee. 3.2km swim My speed is picking up a bit. It’s been hard coming back both physically and emotionally. I worry I have become a couch potato.

Saturday, Feb 13

AM:    MSABC board meeting and a meet up with MJ regarding the inside passage and Cowichan Lake swims. A full day of meetings. No swims for me!

Sunday, Feb 14

AM:    I decided I need to just get in the water and swim, swim and swim some more. I spent early morning with Victoria Masters for a 3km swim. The highlight was 10 x 50 fly @ 1:00 with fins. Loved it. I made all of them.

            After that I did a 1km kick and 3 x 1km swim with different toys and 1km kick. It felt great.

            Last set was 2 x 5 x 100 on varied pace times. I was not sore or tired when I got out.  I think it was the perfect way to end the week and exactly what I needed. A good long swim.

9km total

A few other bits

The week did not go as I was hoping but I was really happy by the end. I think I waited the right amount of time to get back into things and am really looking forward to next week.

No MS symptoms this week!

Susan February 1 to 7

Weekly Log – Feb 1 to 7


Monday, Feb 1 to Friday Feb 5

After a weekend in Vancouver of blissful breathing and no coughing I am back in Victoria coughing my lungs out again. Looks like I a combination of allergies and a cold – time to do a super dusting to get rid of the allergy part!

I am forced myself to take the week off. Last time I was ill I took 3 days and it clearly seems it was not enough as I am worse this time around. I really don’t like stopping but I can’t see myself getting better if don’t. I used the time to catch up on neglected chores at home (dusting) and some much needed sleep and reading.

One of my biggest worries when I take time off is that I will get into the habit of doing nothing and stay in that state.

Saturday, Feb 6

AM:    Blast from the past. Was in a fantastic 10km Ocean Canoe 12 race. It was my first time in the boat in over 9 months and my first time racing in over a year. Wow! It felt great. My paddle endurance has not suffered while I have been away. The two really neat things: 1) worked some different muscle groups in different ways and 2) the ocean is warming up; it’s almost time to jump back in.

Sunday, Feb 7

AM:    First day back in the pool! Giddy-up. Nice sprint set (fly) with Vic Masters. Swam 2.5km. I was tempted to swim more but I think I need to ease back into things. I am afraid of getting sick again.

A few other bits

No exercising is tough but I have to admit, I enjoyed the rest and the extra time with Ray. I think he really liked having me at home too.

Big worries around my fitness level dropping and weight gain.

For the most part I think my MS was ok. There were a few moments on Sunday in the pool but nothing that has me worried.



Susan January 25 to 31

Weekly Log – Jan 25 to 31


Monday, Jan 25

AM:   Tyee morning swim. First day back after being sick. Managed my breathing ok but still coughing quite a bit. Blowing my nose quite a bit.

            2 x (4 x 100) + 400 train for the main set.

PM:    YMCA time!

A really good 45 minute spin. I love it. I can play music really loud and zone out. Plus I get to watch things that go on on land.

1 hour swim (2.5 km). The pool was overly warm and triggered my MS so I swam slow.  I am learning to work through it.

1 hour weights. I lowered the amount a bit from the previous week just to be on the safe side.

Tuesday, Jan 26

PM:    Special O Coaching.

Wednesday, Jan 27

AM:    Tyee workout. Feeling rested. I am sleeping well. We did a 100 LC time trial near the beginning. I choose fly and convinced Maggie to join me. Shona jumped in and did an IM. My goal was to swim it legal. Nothing more. Swam it on 1:33. Did some 400 + 4x 100 down to 200 after that. Nice aerobic set. 2.5km total.

PM:    YMCA. 1 Hour spin, 3.2km swim, set of 12 x 100 swim/pull. 1 hour weights. Some good workouts.

Thursday, Jan 28

PM:    My cold/allergy has returned! Coughed all day. Things have moved from my nose to my throat. I swam with Vic Masters the first 15 minutes but just didn’t feel right. My head was hurting from coughing so I got out.

Friday, Jan 29

AM:   My cough is very bad and I am gasping for air. I clearly didn’t give myself enough time to recover and things have come back 10 fold. I have made the decision to retreat from exercise for a full week. Not an easy thing for me to do but I believe I must.

I send a note to my homeopath Lisa and she has suggested I start taking NAC (N-Acetyl-L-Cysteine) and Agarikon (a BC Mushroom). Both of these are for the lungs.

I headed to the airport after work to meet up with 2 of the Special O athletes and bring them to Vancouver for a swim camp.

Saturday, Jan 30

AM:    Vancouver all day for the swim camp. I was on deck most of the day coaching. No cough.

Sunday, Jan 31

AM:    Vancouver all day for the swim camp. I was on deck most of the day coaching. Coaching is really so much harder than swimming. No cough.

            My cough returned when I returned home. Ugh. That is a really good indication that I have allergies, specifically dust, something I have suspected for a while. I am going to work on cleaning my environment at home (get a new mattress and pillows, sterilize my bedding, get an air purifier) and see if I can situate myself somewhere else at work. I am currently under a vent.

A few other bits

A lot going on this week outside of the pool. The decision to remove myself from everything was a tough one but I know it was the right thing to do. I just couldn’t see myself getting better. I am glad it happened early in the season. I have lots of time before the swim to get ready.  Lots of activity on the MS side this week – full on body numbness. Between the super warm pool and the coaching and chaperoning in Vancouver my body was not happy with me. I won’t be back in the water or at the gym until Saturday so I have lots of time to recover.


Susan January 18 to 24

Weekly Log – Jan 18 to 24


Monday, Jan 18

AM:   Opted out of practice. Very sore from yesterday’s 9 hour swim. I slept most of the night which is fantastic as I usually don’t sleep after big swims.  I did have bad dreams though.

            I took magsmart, dream release, Tylenol, my herbal tea and vitamineral earth before going to bed.

PM:    I was very hungry all day.

            Managed a solid 1 hour spin. My legs were quite sore but I kept at it.

            2.5 kilometer swim. Lots of 50s and kick. There was also a 4 x 75 fly @ 2:00. My goal was no one arms. I was quite pleased I was able to do it.

            45 minutes of weights.  Lightened the load from the previous week.

Tuesday, Jan 19

PM:    Coached Special O. They always motivate me. Cindy, one of the swimmers works so hard. She is determined to swim 200 fly.

Wednesday, Jan 20

AM:    Tyee Masters workout. Very crowded lanes. Navy Masters is swimming with us for a bit as their pool gets sorted out. They jumped in and took over the lanes leaving all of the Tyee swimmers at the end of the lanes. Didn’t talk to any of us. I felt like an outsider.

            Coach modified the workout to try to accommodate us all. Ended up doing 8 minutes of sprints, 8 minutes continuous and 8 minutes on land. By the end I had swum 1.5km. It was one of those workouts where sleep may have been the better option. Frustrating.

PM:    Nose was acting up again. It wouldn’t stop running all day. I went home hoping to get better.

Thursday, Jan 21

PM:    I did not go to work today. Feeling run down.

            Did the Vic Masters workout as I was already at the pool for Special O and thought it might feel good to get in the water. Swam about 2km. Fly sprits to help prep for the meet on the weekend. I need to get my legs and hips up more. I have developed a bit of a submarine style of swimming hoping that if I am dead tired during the 200 I can still make it through. It may not have been the wisest of choices.

Friday, Jan 22

AM:    Sick. Stayed home from work. Went to the doctor for blood tests to make sure that what ever I have is not major. Turns out it is likely allergies. My white blood cell count is a bit elevated.

            Spent the afternoon catching up on stuff I haven’t had time to do the past few weeks. I also started reading Ultra Performance: The Psychology Of Endurance Sports. I am trying to do more reading this year to help me prepare for the swim.

            At some point during the day I realized I would not be able to make it to the meet on the weekend. I was quite disappointed but also knew that going would not help me bet better faster, nor would I perform well. I will have to wait for the next meet.

Saturday, Jan 23

AM:    Stayed home. Read Ultra Performance: The Psychology Of Endurance Sports

Sunday, Jan 24

AM:    Stayed home. Read Ultra Performance: The Psychology Of Endurance Sports

A few other bits

It was a tough week. I don’t like being sick. But on the positive side it is better it’s now then later on in the season. I am worried about the sinus issue. Although I found things to manage it I really need to get rid of the problem.

Surprisingly no MS worries. I often find that when I am sick my MS flares up too. I am glad to report that I did not this time.


Susan January 11 to 17

Weekly Log – Jan 11 to 17



Monday, Jan 11

AM:   Opted to sleep in this morning. Not ready to get back in the pool after the weekends workouts. This will be my one miss of the week. My body is quite stressed.

PM:    YMCA workout. 45 minute spin, 2.5km swim + 1 hour of weights. The swim started out rough but once I relaxed and loosed up it was good. I am seeing Monday’s as a recovery swim day so kept it light.  I noticed I was breathing to one side a bit much.  I will need to get comfy with bilateral breathing when tired.

Tuesday, Jan 12

AM:    Today was my day off. I look forward to these. My nose is very stuffed again. I took some buckly’s this morning and am going to stop coffee for a while and drink the special cold relief tea Jill Yoneda gave me. I am also going to use some of the drops Niki Hughes gave me to put in my water.

            I need to get my blood tested!

I went home after work to rest, had a quick dinner and went to bed. My sleep was broken (7-9, 10 -3 and 3:30 to 5) but it is getting better.

Wednesday, Jan 13

AM:    Morning swim with Tyee. Very crowded lane today. Navy is visiting while their pool is being repaired.

            500 w/u

            8x 50 shark/kick

            12 x 50 2 fast/1 easy (did 25 fly 25 free on the fast)

            12 x 5o 1 fast/2 easy (did 50 fly on the fast)

            Am able to do 50 fly lc on :45 comfortably.

PM:    Stopped by my homeopath on the way and have a few new things to try to help build up my immune system.

            YMCA workout: 2km swim. Did a 200 fly on 3:25 at the end. This is my first in 2 years. I took it really slow as it was really about seeing if I could make it. I need to get comfortable with the event and can start ramping it up again. I will try it in Nanaimo.

            1 hour weights.

Thursday, Jan 14

PM:    Vic Masters. Cindy coached a sprit set. I worked on fly. I am trying to swim it as much as I can right now. It was a bit tough as I do not generally sprint fly and Cindy was challenging me to do this – which I think is really good for me. I need to engage my second kick and keep pushing forward. 2km swim

Friday, Jan 15

AM:    New coach today – Claudia. Nice aerobic set. 3 x 400 + (4 x 100) each time with a different time and toy. I was moving much quicker than usual, keeping up with Danelle. I am usually quite far behind her. I am not sure if it is because of a technique change (higher elbow under water) or a new supplement (Vitamineral Earth). Either way it was good and I need to do it more.

Saturday, Jan 16

AM:    I convinced myself to now swim and spend time with Ray but…. I made a deal with myself that I would have to swim both today’s and tomorrow’s workout tomorrow. Went out for breakfast and met up with Len Martel. He looks great!

Sunday, Jan 17

AM:    9 hour swim.  I started at about 9 am on my own and then did the Vic Masters set. It was a set of 400s. I really worked hard. Kicked that last one on 6:30. Great leg burn!

            Once Vic Masters was done I had completed about 7km.  I moved into very long sets of 4 x 1.5km, 4 x 1km and then 4 x 500 and then into sets of 250s and 100s for a grand total of 23km. I made sure to feed every 30 minutes using vega bars, gel, sprouted cookies, pre-workout drink, and electrolytes. I was ok up to about 20km but then had to really keep telling myself to keep going. My tummy was starting to get a bit upset and I was a bit dizzy.

            I was really happy I stuck to it and think that the 9 hour days may be better for me at this time then 4 hours + 5 hours over 2 days. I am finding 12km swims a bit too comfortable.  I learned a lot about me over the 9 hours and really had to push hard. I will speak to my coach Danielle about this.

A few other bits

My sleeping is much better. I am using dream release on the weekend and a herbal remedy during the week. I am really trying to eliminate caffeine from my diet.

My sinus is much better. I think I might have found a remedy that works! Crossing my fins as I would rather not wear a nose plug.  Mouth breathing only may disrupt my breathing pattern.

I think the only time I was concerned about my MS this week was when I ramped it up on the 400 set with Vic Masters – I often feel tingly when I really push – and then later in the day on the 23km swim. Once I get to a certain place where I am really having to fight to keep going little reminders that I have MS pop up.


Susan January 4 to 10

Weekly Log – Jan 4 to 10


Monday, Jan 4

AM:    I didn’t sleep more than 1 hour last night. Sleep is becoming a really big issue for me, especially after long training sessions. I think my body was pretty amped up from the back to back 100 x 100 IM (I did a repeat of Saturday on Sunday)

I lay in bed most of the night trying not to worry about not being able to sleep and tried to stay relaxed. At 5:30 I decided to get up and go swimming regardless.  Felt nauseous when I first started swimming so decided to kick the workout. 2.5km total.

PM:    My body is screaming STOP! So I listened and went home to bed rather than working out. Decided to try Dream Release (a natural remedy) to help me sleep)

Tuesday, Jan 5

AM:    Wow! I slept 8 hours – haven’t done that in years, and it’s my down day too. Life is good.

PM:    I coached Special O tonight. I had Aly swim 4 x 50 fly as a way to build confidence in the event. It severed as a great reminder to myself to continue to do workouts that challenge me in ways that build confidence.

Wednesday, Jan 6

AM:    2.7km swim with Tyee. Mostly 400s. I worked on breathing patterns. I was able to manage 3/5 quite comfortably and could manage the 3/7.

PM:    YMCA workout.  1.25 hour spin, 2.7km swim, 30 minutes of weights.

Thursday, Jan 7

PM:    Vic Masters IM workout. My energy levels were ok but I wasn’t moving too fast.

Friday, Jan 8

AM:    3km swim with Tyee

Saturday, Jan 9

AM:    Paddling was cancelled due to weather. I am looking forward to warmer weather so I can get back on the water.

 PM:     Went to the Y at noon. 12km swim. Last year I did 10km swims on Saturday but have discovered that I can fit in 12 during the 4 hour period. I’ve also been doing a lot more distance at once. 1, 2 and 3k sets. Am eating every 30 minutes after the first 2 hours.

Sunday, Jan 10

AM:    15km swim. Vic Masters workout with Avila. Some varied sets sprinkled with sprints and then some swimming on my own. Did about 10 x 1km and then some 100s at the end to see if my pace was on point. Yup, same pace at the beginning as at the end.

Beyond the Pool

I used dream release throughout the week. I seem to be sleeping better (deeper) but am still waking up in the middle of the night. I do however feel more rested.

I am finding that after the long swims my sinus is a bit of a mess and it takes about a week to recover from all the water in my nose – just in time for me to jump back in the water again. I will be speaking to my homeopath – Lisa – about that.

Sunday night we had a fantastic planning session for the inside passage swim. We are still working on firming up the course but we made some good headway. We will definitely start in Oceanfalls, but need to figure out if we will go east or west around Denny. There is a 10km difference. On the short side there are tidal surges which cause a 5mph current and on the other side there are whales.

I often find it difficult to tell if it is MS or my training that is causing a symptom or issue. There are two things I am keeping an eye on right now. The first is my energy levels. I would be lying if I didn’t say I am often tired. I don’t know how much to attribute to the training and how much is from MS.

The second thing, and it is connected to fatigue, is my newly discovered hum. When I am really pushing it, like with the 27km of swimming over the weekend, my body hums. It’s a bit of an odd sensation. It’s like my central nervous system has been over stimulated and can’t calm down. I don’t sleep well when I am “humming,” Fatigue often follows.


Happily Falling into Fall

The fact that I am looking at Halloween costumes is a clear sign that I have been out of the water for far too long!  My hair feels healthy, my finger nails are thick, and my skin no longer smells of chlorine when on the bus or at the gym...this is looking bad!  I will say however, that with the experience of last year I am ok with this.  In late 2014/early 2015 I was really struggling emotionally.  This isn't news to any of you... I was very open about these struggles.  I spent over a year waking up early to swim before work, and yes sometimes after work as well.  I lived in the pool and as much as I love floating around in the water.. enough is enough already!

It's no surprise that the 2015 swim had me feeling very similarly.  Not to mention I wasn't as kind to my shoulders this time around and they have needed some extra TLC.  The good news.... I am so happy I haven't been in the water since August!  On top of that... I am getting close to packing my bag with caps and goggles and booking my modo car for 5am again!  It's just around the corner!  I can feel it!  In the meantime, I have had the opportunity to watch other inspiring women take the lead and challenge themselves to #endMS in the past months!

Brenna MacLean: She is a young woman who recently ran the Rock'n'Roll Half Marathon (her first) and raised over $3,000 for MS!  Funny enough, she started out as a swimmer also and made the Junior National Team!

Lindsay McCallum: Lindsay has participated in fundraising events for years!  her goal, along with an army of friends and family is to raise $30,000 over ten years of contributions. 

Aly Couch: Aly competed in her first ironman Canada race in Whistler just 3 weeks before SwimMS this year.  She surpassed her fundraising goal and finished like a champ!  What a show of inspiration leading into the big swim!

Ladies.  We are awesome!  I am so honored to have been able to watch these talented and determined young women!  I am thankful to be a part of a group of women like this!  Thanks for keeping me inspired and coming back for more! 

All the warm fuzzies aside, I am excited for what SwimMS may hold in the future.  Evidence has shown that there does need to be some kind of change to keep the swim accessible and give it a shot at longevity.  I have been fortunate enough to re-connect with some people who will be a great asset to the event, and if we continue to reach out to others for help I do know SwimMS will have a wonderful future!  Anyone who is interested in getting involved is welcome to email info@swimms.ca 

Boys and Girls... see you in the pool shortly.  Until then I am getting warmed up by swimming in this rain! 

SwimMS 2015 - oh Boy that's cold!

SwimMS 2015.... what can I say... THERE IS NOT ENOUGH HOT CHOCOLATE IN THE WORLD!  Ok, now that that is off my chest.

I won't lie... I was cocky.  I was all "Ah.  I've done this before.. I'll be enjoying my large beef pho in no time".  Boy was I wrong.  The swim in 2014 was 12 hours long.  The swim in 2015 was 12 hours long.  The swim in 2015 felt like 30 hours.  I first stepped into the water with my good friend Ron.  Ron swam with me last year for 3 hours during the swim and then casually popped off to a wedding (no biggie).  Ron is pretty amazing!  When we were waist deep there was a slow turn of our heads towards one another.  A hesitant look on both of or faces indicating sheer terror while attempting to remain optimistic is a memory I will never forget.  It was really cold!  Not only was it about 4 degrees colder than the previous year... it was 3 degrees colder than the previous day.  WHY I ask?  WHY?

After slowly wandering up to chest deep we dove into the ice cold water.  The shock hit my head and caused laboured breathing almost instantly.  It's a feeling I know well, but often it's in preparation for a swim no longer than 6km.  We estimate that on this day, I swam roughly 30km (down slightly from last year).  Another feeling that I am familiar with is one of comfort when your body gets used to the water and no longer experiences frequent chills.  I waited, and waited... This never happened.  For 12 hours my body was stiff.  I could feel rushes of cold water hitting my back on the inside of my wetsuit.  It would move up and down with the rotation of my body, never allowing me to forget that little pool of water.  By hour 4 I began having a sharp pain in both hips.  The cold had kept me so tense that these joints and muscles just would not relax.  I did a lot more breaststroke kick than expected to try and break up the tension.  I also had to stop frequently and roll into a ball in an attempt to stretch out my back.  These were all great short term solutions, but the pain always came back. 

In the first 3 hours of the swim I was joined by Ron, my younger cousins, Alex and Tim Woinoski, who showed up in their itty bitty speedo's and lasted a deserving one lap.  In all honestly I am impressed they got past their waists.  My Cousin who lives with MS is their Aunt.   I cannot explain how special it was to have these two with me.  Alex is younger and took off with a shot of energy.  It was also the most reasonable tactic to stay warm.  Tim did the same, however I quickly noticed that after sprinting ahead he would swim back and do a circle around me before sprinting off again.  Alex stopped often to let us catch up and both managed to avoid hypothermia.  I loved swimming with my cousins.  I am so happy that in this second year, they were able to come out and help raise awareness!  In the final laps of that first 3 hours I was joined by Chantal  Lauzon.  Chantal is a woman I met through masters swimming (the same group where I met Ron).  When I originally began planning the 2015 swim, I had hoped for a 12 hour long relay where athletes tag off and there is always someone in the water from 7am-7pm.  This idea started to look unlikely when in late July I still didn't have enough support swimmers to accomplish this 12 hour relay.  When Chantal heard this she stepped up to the plate and told me she was determined to make it happen.  Chantal arrived at 6:45am at the beach.  She cheered on the first two sets of swimmers and then joined me for the third rotation.  During the course of the swim she probably swam about 6 hours and took every open shift to ensure the relay never broke.  I frequently said to her, "Chantal, don't worry about the relay.  If you need a break or are cold just stop for a while."  She did get breaks when others were in the water with me, but she was always ready to jump back in... and did!  We were also joined by Mark Everitt, an awesome young man from the UK who I have learned a lot from.  Mark was in town for a year on a work visa and made a mission to meet everyone and experience everything.  Mark saw my ad for swimmers at Kits Pool and took a chance on us.  I learned that he had never swam in the ocean and hesitantly met him for a practice swim one Thursday night.  Thankfully he surpassed my expectations.  I gave him a loaner wet suit and his ocean swimming experience began to grow!  Poor Mark's suit had no sleeves and he too had a very hard time keeping warm on the 15th.  Mark has gone back to England now, and we miss him!

Much like last year, I took a short break every 3 hours.  Due to the temperature however, some of the breaks were slightly longer than expected.  I was always planning to stop shivering before getting back in the water.  This wasn't always the case but having those moments of relief really did keep me healthy and able to continue.  During the breaks I was also able to visit with donors, supporters, friends and family.  These visits really did save me.  I still had my waterproof ipod, which is fantastic, but this year was a whole different game mentally.  The cold distracted me from the music, and from time to time it even distracted me from the support I was receiving in the water from the relay.

Throughout the swim I was visited my many other relay swimmers.  Clair Nicol, who is a lifeguard at Kits beach chose to join us on her break.  Laura Thompson a former UBC T-bird swimmer came out for the afternoon and evening.  Along with Laura were a handful of other UBC swimmers, Kat Stamp, Melissa Jung, and former Olympian Savannah King.  Savannah and I have had a very special relationship over the years.  She was an up and coming long distance freestyler when I was looking towards the end of my career.  I saw her as a big threat, and I assume she both looked up to me and also made it a mission to kick my butt!  Eventually I did end my career, and today Savannah has a record of 800m freestyles faster than my own (I think I may still have her in the 1500m though!).  It has been really wonderful to watch her grow and excel in the program that I grew in.  Somewhat recently she did let me know that I was a role model and inspiration for her.  The funny thing is that I feel the same way about her in my post swimming years.  We may or may not have shared many hugs and happy tears, both at alumni events and after SwimMS.  Are you having a flash back to that night at the bar when those chicks in the back were all like "You're the best" - "No You are".  Ya that was us.

I need to take a moment to really thank one of the above swimmers.  Melissa.  Thank you Melissa!  We have already done this face-to-face, but it deserves some online credit.  Melissa jumped in the water when I had about 2 hours left.  Actually to be honest I have no idea how long I was still required to swim for... I was near the point of closing my eyes and letting them pull me in behind a boat.  Melissa is a very aware young woman.  At this time I was really struggling and my body was starting to work against me.  I was so close to finishing, but also so close to giving up.  I spent this time crying into my goggles and struggling to keep my breathing under control.  Melissa was a calm in the storm.  She swam right beside me and began to match my rhythm.  When I breathed, she breathed.  Every time I took my head out of the water she was right there looking at me.  It sounds very strange, but that eye contact was really important.  I eventually began stopping every 5 minutes to ask "how much longer?".  She would answer and quickly follow up with words of encouragement.  Thanks to Melissa, I didn't give up so close to the finish line. 

Along the way I also had the very important support of the Vancouver Lifeguard Association.  Lead by Max Bibbby, the VLA brought out about volunteers who were present for the entire swim.  They kept safety boats in the water the whole way, ensuring both myself and the relay team were happy and healthy.  They were supplied with food and warm drinks to ensure we stayed energized and they supported us when getting out of the water on breaks.  Hot water bottles and blankets were a very exciting treat they provided us!  Did I mention these efforts were made with no expectation of payment?  I did end up finding a bit of sponsorship money to ensure they got a small honorarium and I am trying to also contribute with some volunteer work... but they'd be happy either way.  Thank you wonderful lifegaurds!

When we determined it was time to head towards shore for the final exit from the water I was both happy and still filled with pain.  I think we gave ourselves 7 minutes and it probably took us 10.  The pace had slowed down significantly.  Melissa and Kat were with me at this time.  When we got about 200 meters off shore the entire group jumped in the water and swam us into shore.  This moment.  This is important.  Last year when I reached land It was a wonderful and happy memory that signifies a personal challenge completed.  This day was so much more than that.  Getting from 7am to 7pm on August 15th was truly a group effort that could not have been accomplished without everyone I have mentioned.  It was very emotional for me, both because my body had entirely messed up my brain, and also because I was (and still am) so thankful.  We raised just under $10,000 this year and the relay even helped with that!  I was able to accomplish so much more because of these people.  I am forever grateful!  On behalf of my family and those affected by Multiple Sclerosis, Thank You!

To the people in my community who live with MS... we are $10,000 closer to finding a cure!  I am so hopeful that this will be a reality and that all of you will be able to celebrate this.

Oh and P.S.  when I finally did eat that pho, it was really good!