Long-distance swimmer Meliah Motchman snacks on watermelon during a brief break from her five-kilometre swim around Thetis Lake on Monday. The 27-year-old may be the first Canadian with down syndrome to complete a swim of that distance. (Submitted/Susan Simmons)

Victoria swimmer with down syndrome completes 5-kilometre Thetis Lake swim

Victoria woman swims for four hours straight in cold water

Meliah Motchman is fearless.

The long distance Victoria swimmer, 27, swam for four hours straight in Thetis Lake on Monday, completing a five-kilometre goal she made last winter with coach Susan Simmons.

READ ALSO: Tackling ‘one fear after another:’ ‘Spirit Orca’ swimmers ready for next challenge

Motchman has down syndrome and might be the first Canadian living with the condition to complete an open water swim of that distance – the Special Olympics World Games open water swim is only 1.5 kilometres.

“Swimming makes me healthy and fit,” Motchman said. “I feel proud of myself, it’s amazing. Next summer I want to do the Sunshine Coast.”

Motchman has been training in the pool, lake and ocean. She says cold water – as low as 12 degrees – and waves two to three feet high don’t scare her at all.

“I’ve been swimming in lakes all my life. I have to be brave a lot, I’m no chicken,” she said.

Motchman swam three laps around Thetis Lake and an additional 500 metres, with breaks every thirty minutes for a drink and snack, all while treading water, never touching the boat or ground.

Simmons had a kickboard and paddled alongside her, encouraging her by posting updates to Facebook and reading supportive comments out loud.

READ ALSO: Victoria speakers gather for inspirational conference

Simmons, known for swimming incredible distances in B.C.’s open water while battling Multiple Sclerosis, coaches a number of swimmers with different developmental abilities. She says Motchman’s achievement on Monday is an step forward for all her swimmers.

“I think people with disabilities are often told, ‘you can’t’ so they don’t believe they can, and other people don’t believe they can,” she said. “It’s become very important to me to dispel the myth…for Meliah to choose a goal like that and achieve it and show that someone with down syndrome can do this, is amazing.”



nina.grossman@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Stem cell donor with rare genetic makeup needed to save Saanich man after cancer returns

Jeremy Chow is half Canton Chinese, half British and needs a donor with a similar ethnic background

Saanich council considers more ambitious climate change goals

Staff promise more details about ‘acclerated actions’ later this fall

Police identify man found dead in Saanich, seek his backpack and shoes

Investigators seek shoes, backpack that Andrew Michael Sidor was seen wearing

Grassfire threatens Sooke home

Quick action by local firefighters quickly extinguished flames

Victoria Police seek witnesses after cyclist tripped up by tow strap between vehicles

The collision happened on Aug. 18 at Oswego and Belleville streets

VIDEO: Canadian zoos’ captive breeding programs help preserve endangered species

Programs considered last-ditch effort to prevent local extinctions of turtles, butterflies and more

B.C. sets rules for ride hailing, same minimum fee as taxis

Larger operating areas seen as threat by cab companies

Two hiking families team up to extinguish fire in B.C. backcountry

Children and their parents worked for three hours to ensure safety of the popular hiking region

Police seek tips in 2015 death of Island teen Brown

Four years has passed since the body of Penelakut Island woman was discovered

Vancouver man arrested after pregnant woman’s SUV stolen, then crashed

Police are recommending charges against a 22-year-old Vancouver man

Elections Canada to assess ‘partisan’ climate change rhetoric case by case

People’s Party of Canada Leader Maxime Bernier has said climate change is not an emergency nor caused by human

Unseasonable snow forces campers out of northeastern B.C. provincial park

Storm brought as much as 35 centimetres of snow to the Fort Nelson, Muncho Lake Park-Stone Mountain Park

B.C. log export rules killing us, northwest harvester says

NorthPac Forestry says Skeena Sawmills has plenty of timber

Most Read