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.
Motchman might be the first Canadian living with down syndrome 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.
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.”