Cydney Simpson, lead kayaker for Team Help!, shared her story with the Girl Guides recently. Cydney told of kayaking 2,400km down the Murray River alongside her fiancé, Hunter Helmick as he set a world record, becoming the first American to swim Australia’s longest river.
The staged swim took Cydney and Hunter 120 days.
They left Corryong, Victoria on November 5 with Hunter’s father, Eric Helmick, swimming at his side and brother, Tuck Helmick, as boat captain.
The father/son team undertook the journey to inspire the youth of Australia and bring awareness to the high rate of suicide among the younger generation.
Cydney spoke to the Girl Guides, sharing about personal worth, dreams and adventures, championing them to go do big things, find their purpose, create and stay true to their identity as individuals. “Inspiration brings hope,” Cydney said.
“Hope is the greatest cure for depression and suicide, so we’re doing something epic.
“In the process, youth and communities are finding hope – believing anything might be possible.” Eric said they were a novice team.
“Only six team members total at any given time made the swim and logistics nearly impossible,” Eric said.
“We’ve had no major sponsors and only small donations along the way.
“The costs we’ve incurred are huge – but the lives transformed are bigger still.”
During the swim they encountered everything from venomous snakes to whirlpools, snags, wind, lightening, and extreme fatigue.
“An endurance swim was not really my life’s dream,” admitted Hunter.
“In fact, the most I had ever swum before this journey was 6km.
“But doing something epic that inspires others to live big, there’s a legacy worth leaving behind.” Eric is 55, and his sons Hunter, 25, and Tuck, 17, are from Idaho Springs, Colorado in the United States where they sold everything, including their home – and travelled half way around the world to inspire the youth of Australia.
Intricate maps of the river along with GPS devices helped the team navigate their way.
Because of the nature of the landscape including national forest, private land and flooding after eight years of drought there was not always access to the shore crew which made the journey much more difficult.
Two people have swum the River Murray prior to this latest attempt.
In 1993, Graham Middleton of Corryong, Australia swam 2,336 over 138 consecutive days.
In 2000, Australian professional marathon swimmer Tammy Van Wisse spent 106 days stage swimming 2,438 km along the River Murray.