NEWS
08/03/2014 08:00 EDT | Updated 10/03/2014 05:59 EDT

Rachel Schoeler attempting 35-km Georgia Strait swim

A Vancouver woman hopes that today she'll become the first woman in 42 years to swim across the Georgia Strait.

"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 is to leave Nanaimo's Neck Point at 8 a.m. today and swim 35 kilometres to Sechelt on B.C.'s Sunshine Coast, arriving some 11 to 13 hours later.

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.

The Georgia Strait swim is three kilometres longer than the 32-kilometre English Channel.

She will have a full support crew that includes her father, who is visiting from Ontario, but she says 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."

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 on Our Vancouver, click on the video icon at the top of this page.

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