With quite a bit of delay, but true to his word, clean water activist Christopher Swain began his much publicized Earth Day Swim in the heavily polluted Gowanus Canal at deGraw Street. Onlookers had lined up on the Union Street and Carroll Street Bridge, and apparently, there was quite a crowd waiting for him at the Whole Foods site.
With a police boat as escort and a support member of his team, Swain slowly swam through the fetid water, protected by a yellow drysuit. It was surprising to see that he had no face mask.
As he emerged from under the Union Street Bridge, he turned around to the crowd, waved and shouted "There is hope!"
The US Environmental Agency has warned anyone against coming in direct contact with the water. The police seems to have tried to talk Swain out of this swim as well. There were quite a few officers at the launch site talking to hime before the swim.
Swain, who previously swam the entire lengths of the Columbia, Charles, Hudson, Mohawk, and Mystic Rivers, as well as Lake Champlain, and large sections of the Atlantic coast of the United States, used today's swim to draw attention to our threatened waterways.
In the past few days,Swain has declared in the press that this event was "to call attention to the slow-moving federal cleanup of the canal and its surrounding neighborhood."
It seems very strange to me that Swain has never attended an EPA Community Advisory group meeting, nor seems to acknowledge the fact that the EPA has made incredible process since declaring the Gowanus Canal a Superfund site in 2010.
Also, he did not mentioned that a remedy for the clean-up has already been signed into law by the EPA in september 2013 and that the federal agency has worked as fast as it is possible to move the clean-up along.
In any case, one can only hope that Swain will be fine after his encounter with the waters of Gowanus.
Apparently, shortly after getting into the water, Swain got out at the Whole Foods Gowanus store, just 2/3rd of a mile down the canal, stating the obvious: "It's not safe to swim in here."