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Thursday, June 20, 2024
Hands tied, he wants to swim Niagara River – to support mental health
Dylan Rumsey plans to swim the Niagara River with his hands tied on Aug. 26. Somer Slobodian

Dylan Rumsey’s upcoming six-kilometre swim down the Niagara River is similar to last year’s — but with a twist. 

“I’m doing it with my hands tied,” said the 26-year-old Niagara-on-the-Lake resident. 

The second annual swim for Pathstone Mental Health is planned for Aug. 26. He’ll be swimming from the Queenston boat launch to the gazebo at Queen’s Royal Beach.

Last year he expected to complete the swim in four to six hours, but finished in a little over two. 

This year he wanted to challenge himself even more — and he thought making the swim with his hands tied in front of him would be the perfect way to do that.

He most likely will use several swimming techniques, but he’s not sure until he actually gets out on the water.

“I kind of like to show that it’s pretty simple to do things if you believe in yourself,” he said.

Several friends will be out on the water in their boats in case he has any problems.

Rumsey has always been open about his mental health struggles with PTSD and drug and alcohol addiction, which stemmed from a traumatic experience he endured as a child.

He’s used his experience to help people and show them that anything is possible by inspiring “people to do better for themselves.”

He’s been to treatment centres and support groups but never found them beneficial, he said. In fact, he found some of them do more harm than good.

So he took matters into his own hands. 

He said he used to drink and do drugs every day and he put himself in serious financial debt. But he was able to turn his life around in a “matter of a week with just sheer willpower.”

“I like to give people a sense of hope,” he said. 

This swim is an example of how he plans to do that. 

He said he likes to do things that people say he can’t do — like a 48-kilometre run he completed on July 30 from Old Town to Niagara Falls, and back – with no training. 

“Because then it gives them a sense of, ‘Well, if he can do that, what can I do myself?’ ” said Rumsey. 

He added that he shouldn’t have been able to complete such a run — but he did. 

He’s never swam with his hands tied before, he said, but he’s not too nervous. 

“I’ll figure it out when I get out there,” he said. 

Besides boxing daily and working out at the gym, he hasn’t done any specific training for the swim — the desire to tackle it is enough for him.

“I think it’s just like a mindset that I go into things with,” he said.

He added that he doesn’t allow his brain to let him quit. 

He chose Pathstone Mental Health as the charity to support because of how much it helped him as a kid.

“They used to drive down to my house, we never had to get dropped off there or anything. They kind of went above and beyond,” he said.

Last year he was able to raise $14,335 for Pathstone and hopes to raise a large amount again this year. 

That initial swim helped teach him how to expand himself, he said, and reminded him that no one should ever have to put a limit on what they can do.

“Don’t let anybody tell you that you can’t do something.”

To donate to Rumsey’s swim, go to pathstonefoundation.ca/donate

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