A Vancouver woman hopes that tomorrow she'll become the first woman in 42 years to swim across the Strait of Georgia — a swim three kilometres longer than the 32-kilometre English Channel.
"It's just a personal challenge," Rachel Schoeler said to CBC's Gloria Macarenko on Our Vancouver last week. "I love open water swimming and I wanted to try something new."
Schoeler's plan was to leave Nanaimo's Neck Point at 8 a.m. PT today and swim 35 kilometres to Sechelt on B.C.'s Sunshine Coast, arriving some 11 to 13 hours later.
But, due to strong winds, her start has been delayed, her father confirmed just before 8 a.m. Sunday.
"The start of Rachel's swim has been delayed this morning due to a high wind advisory we received form our boat captain. He will provide us with updates on weather conditions every half hour," said Bob Schoeler, who is visiting from Ontario to offer his support.
"He has prepared Rachel for either a later start today or waiting until tomorrow for better conditions.
"He is also considering an alternative start location," Schoeler said.
Less than two hours later, the team decided the winds were just too much.
"We have decided to scrub the day. We will hope for favourable conditions tomorrow," Schoeler said in an email.
Tough physical, mental challenge
Even with a full support crew at the ready, Rachel Schoeler said the mental aspect of the swim will be the toughest part.
"I'm pretty confident in my physical ability to do it but, being out there, you're really by yourself. The boat crew is there, but you can't really see properly, you can't really hear, so you're really with your own thoughts and that's tough, especially at hour eight, hour nine, hour 10."
The water temperatures are relatively warm, about 18 C in the middle of the Strait, which is important as she won't be wearing a wetsuit.
"I'm following the open water swimming rules, the English Channel rules, and that says no wetsuit, no aides of any sort," she explained Saturday at her final pre-attempt swim at Qualicum Beach.
Aside from her personal goal, Schoeler is also doing the swim to raise awareness about water quality on the South Coast, and to fundraise for the Fraser Riverkeeper's programs to educate beachgoers on ways they can improve water quality.
Schoeler's water-quality-awareness swim is especially timely, given the recent beach closures in West Vancouver and at Sunset Beach due to high E. coli concentrations.
To hear more from Rachel Schoeler's interview from Our Vancouver, click on the video icon at the top of this page.