A lucky group got a once-in-a-lifetime encounter with a pod of orcas near Vancouver. They were helping their friend train for her swim across the English Channel when a curious gang of killer whales approached, breaching just a few metres away. The video taker said it was nerve-wracking since they were super close.

"Everything kind of stopped and nothing else existed in the world except what's happening," said Vancouver resident Meyrick Jones to Narcity. "It's amazing. It's really cool."

Jones and a group of fellow kayakers were helping their friend Debbie Collingwood train for her marathon swim on Sunday morning, August 9, when they spotted the faint spray from a blowhole off in the distance.

They were near Whyte Islet, a tiny island less than a 30-minute drive from downtown Vancouver.

"We just thought they were frolicking in the middle of the bay, but very quickly we realized they were getting closer and closer," he said.

Collingwood held onto the side of the kayak as the pod swam right up to the group. Jones saw three or four orcas in total. One passed right beside them, about 20 feet away, while the others dove beneath their boats.

"You feel slightly vulnerable. Although we were never really worried," he said.

Jones had a different up-close encounter with orcas in the past. But then he was on a larger boat β€” because their kayaks were so low on the water, this time he felt much closer.

They were especially concerned with Collingwood being in the water. Thankfully, nothing happened.

Collingwood had long dreamed of swimming the English Channel, but her plans to take the plunge were dashed this year by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Now she's getting ready for her next opportunity by swimming hours on hours two to three times a week by the B.C. coast.

While kayakers have been approached by the whales in the past, it's usually super rare to have something like this happen so close to a major city.

Although the B.C. coast is home to many orcas, they usually keep their distance from the shore.

All-in-all, it's a pretty memorable way to start your morning.

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