An 18-year-old Canadian entered the lower Niagara River at Niagara Glenn Saturday and rode it through a quarter-mile of rapids before reaching the U.S. shore.
Niagara Parks Police charged him with unlawfully performing a stunt and then banned him from the river and its parks.
Tyler J. Canning of Victoria Harbor, protected by two life jackets, said the stunt was part of "a lifelong obsession."
He is scheduled to appear in Provincial Court on Queen Street Oct. 14 and could face a fine from $250 to $10,000 (Canadian), police said.
Canning, however, was not upset as he described his adventure and his plans to go over the Horseshoe Falls in a barrel within the next two years.
"I intended to jump in the Whirlpool Rapids and go through to the Devil's Hole. I had three life jackets on when I jumped off the rock (into the river), but the power of the water smashed the third one off. My head went under for a minute, but I popped back up. I didn't feel the least bit of butterflies (in my stomach). I felt really relaxed and the water was warm and refreshing," he said.
Canning said the water carried him at about 20 mph downriver and through a quarter mile of rapids, where he said he couldn't see much because it seemed "there were 20-foot-high walls of water all around."
"I went about three miles and the jet boat people kept yelling at me to get to shore, but I couldn't see them because the rapids were too high," he said.
Canning said he swam to the American shore with the current: "It was my only option. I didn't want to get caught in the (power plant) turbines" by trying to make it back to Canada.
Canning's stunt began at 3 p.m. and ended at about 4:30 p.m. after his companions, Sebastian Vermette, 19, and Warren Edwards, 16, both of Midland, told Parks Police about it. Vermette and Edwards said they were unaware of Canning's plans.
After Canadian and American police agencies were alerted, U.S. Border Patrol officers nabbed Canning as he tried to walk back to Canada over the Lewiston-Queenston Bridge. Canning said he walked to the bridge from the river and was easy to spot since he was dripping wet and had two wet life jackets with him.
He still intends to go over the Horseshoe Falls in a barrel.
"It's my lifelong obsession," Canning said. "While a lot of kids had Smurfs in their bedrooms when they were little, I always had posters of Niagara Falls. I've studied the river for years. I have a whole library on it. I've researched it. I know the water, how the winds affect it and and I know when its the best time to go in. Today was as good as it gets (to shoot the rapids)."
He said that earlier Saturday he went into the water up to his knees about a mile above the Horseshoe Falls and considered going over with his three life jackets, but decided it was too dangerous.