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Nanaimo teen jumping into the ocean every day for eating disorder awareness

Clay Johnson is nearing his 200th daily dip
Clay Johnson at Stephenson Point on his 191st day of jumping into the ocean to raise awareness for people that struggle with eating disorders. (Bailey Seymour/News Bulletin)

A Nanaimo teen is reaching his 200th day of jumping into the ocean, rain, snow or shine, in an effort to raise money to support people who suffer from eating disorders.

Clay Johnson, 16, who’s struggled with disordered eating himself, started his Swim to Eat campaign on Sept. 4 with hopes of reaching $5,000 in donations throughout the year.

The idea to jump in the water every day for a year was inspired by the lyric “swim with me, get to someplace better” from the song Swim, by Valley, which “really stuck” with Johnson.

“The campaign has two faces, it’s bringing awareness to the cause of eating disorders, and there are so many people having issues, not knowing where to get support, or how to talk about it,” he said. “Also there’s the fundraising side so we can now help and support organizations that are doing great work.”

Swim to Eat has garnered lots of support from the community, and Johnson had the opportunity to talk to friends and family of those who’ve endured eating disorders, and others who have suffered from disordered eating.

“[There’s a] number of people I’ve talked to who are really happy [with the campaign], because they know someone who’s struggled with disordered eating,” he said.

Johnson has raised $1,105 so far, which is being donated to the Looking Glass Foundation for Eating Disorders. He chose Looking Glass because of the range of services they provide, including counselling, peer support, recovery, and a live-in place for people recovering from eating disorders.

So far, he has only missed one day of swimming. Even during the coldest days of winter, Johnson was jumping into the ocean, however, he’s adapting to the freezing water.

“Once you get used to the cold and being submerged, it doesn’t have the same shock,” he said.

Over the summer, Johnson plans on holding a public fundraising event at Departure Bay for members of the community to connect, donate, and jump in with him to further bring awareness to the cause.

Johnsons 200th dip is March 23. Anyone looking to donate to the campaign can visit his GoFundMe page or CanadaHelps.

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Clay Johnson after jumping in the water about a week before his 200th day of his Swim to Eat campaign to raise awareness for those with eating disorders. (Bailey Seymour/Black Press)

Bailey Seymour

About the Author: Bailey Seymour

After graduating from SAIT and stint with the Calgary Herald, I ended up at the Nanaimo News Bulletin/Ladysmith Chronicle in March 2023
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