Epic Rooftop Jump in Chicago Goes Viral

"I've been doing this my whole life, since even before I can remember," Ethan Swanson said. "My mom says I was climbing before I could walk."

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    NEWSLETTERS

    There's a point while watching the video of Ethan Swanson's unbelievable rooftop leap when the camera pans down to the ground and two words suddenly come to mind: "Don't jump!" 

    But jump he did -- without a parachute and little protection -- from the roof of a Chicago apartment building onto the peak roof of a vacant building far below. The 24-year-old slides down the shingles of the neighboring roof, partially lands on an outdoor spiral staircase and keeps sliding until he lands, slightly less than unscathed, onto a sidewalk.

    It's all captured using a couple of GoPro cameras, and in the two days since being posted to YouTube, the James Bond-esque jump has gone viral, garnering more than 1.7 million views.

    "I got banged up," admits Swanson, a native of Chicago's suburbs. "No broken bones, nothing serious."

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    The roof's shingles did tear through the areas between the four shin guards he taped to himself before the jump and pulled away some skin. Oh, and he bruised his right heel a little, but it goes with the territory for Swanson.

    "I've been doing this my whole life, since even before I can remember," he said. "My mom says I was climbing before I could walk."

    Swanson is a part-time professional stuntman and former gymnast who feels most comfortable being up high and spends his free time cliff diving, rock climbing and scouting out his next urban stunt. By day he works for an investment company as an actuary, which comes in handy for Swanson's hobby.

    He never goes into a jump blindly and takes weeks, even months to prepare for a leap before he completes it.

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    For the rooftop jump, Swanson took measurements of everything at the site and practiced for a month to get it all perfect, from the timing and speed of his run to the jump and landing. He even postponed the jump once because of rain.

    "That's one thing I wish I could tell people more about because I don't want someone to see [the video] and go out and do it and not prepare," he said, noting, "I've dedicated a lot of my time to have the training and the skills to do these things."

    Swanson was contacted by GoPro in the spring about partnering with the company for the jump. He already had this one planned, so he went for it. The jump is all his, the video editing is all GoPro, he says.

    He never expected it to go viral, but this surely isn't the last you've heard of him.

    "Whenever I'm out or walking around," he said, "I'm always looking up."

    Check out Ethan's other YouTube videos here.