Thursday, October 15, 2015

Once Is Crazy, Twice May Be Insane: Christopher Swain Attempts Second Swim In Polluted Gowanus This Saturday

Photos above of Christopher Swain's first swim in the Gowanus, April 2015

Clean water activist Christopher Swain certainly generated quite a bit of attention back in April 22 when he swam in the heavily polluted Gowanus Canal on Earth Day to raise awareness of our waterways as well as to call for an accelerated cleanup of this US Environmental Protection Agency's Superfund site.

Because of weather concerns, Swain had to abandon his swim after only 2/3rd of a mile, declaring that "It's not safe" to swim in the Canal.  He did however vow to return to attempt  to complete the entire length of the waterway at a later time.

Swain was obviously serious, because he just sent out a press release stating that he will be back this Saturday, October 17th and is ready to dive back into the murky waters of the Gowanus.

Here are the details:

Kicks Off Campaign for Swimmable Waterways in New York City

Clean Water Advocate Christopher Swain will attempt to swim the entire 1.8 mile length of the Gowanus Canal Superfund Site, from the Flushing Tunnel, to Gowanus Bay in New York Harbor, becoming the first person in history to do so. Swain’s goal is a comprehensive cleanup resulting in a Gowanus Canal that is safe for swimming every day. Last April, Swain went for thirty-minute dip in the upper Gowanus Canal—arguably the dirtiest waterway in America. 
This time around, accompanied by robust safety and research crew, Swain will use his swim to measure, map, and document the state of the Gowanus. Planned efforts include: water sampling, GPS tracking, time-lapse photography, aerial photography, balloon mapping, as well as monitoring of heart rate and other physiological parameters of the swimmer. There will also be a public participation element where locals will share photos and videos using the hashtag #GowanusSwim. 
Swain’s Gowanus Canal swim kicks off his “Campaign for Swimmable Waterways,” during which he will advocate for comprehensive cleanups of some of New York City’s most polluted bodies of water, including, the Gowanus Canal, Newtown Creek, and the Bronx River. For more information, please visit:, follow Swain on Twitter@SwimWithSwain, or search “SwimWithSwain” on Facebook and Instagram.

10:00 A.M. -- Immediately before his swim, Swain will hold a press conference at Swan Dive, 480 Union St., Brooklyn, NY (next to Union St. Bridge over the Gowanus Canal).
10:35 A.M. -- After the press conference, Swain will board a boat for the trip to the head of the Canal—several hundred yards upstream but still visible from the Union Street Bridge. He will jump off the boat at the head of Canal and begin swimming, passing beneath the Union Street Bridge on his way downstream.

Apparently the EPA has cautioned Swain against getting into the Gowanus.  According to the Press release," the Unites States Environmental Protection Agency—leader of the cleanup of the sludge at the bottom of the Canal—recognized Swain’s legal right to swim in the Canal, but has advised Swain against swimming in it at all. In a letter delivered to Swain on Wednesday, the Agency wrote: “EPA strongly advises against swimming in the Gowanus Canal. Swimming in the waters of the Gowanus Canal pose [sic] a risk from exposure to site related hazardous chemicals as well as pathogens associated with sewage discharge.”

Swain 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.


Nancy said...

Fool us once with your disease and ailments from the canal- and fool us twice.
I'd like to see a third attempt at swimming the canal. After that the foolishness
is on you. Heavy metals are all nutrients for the body. I love heavy metals. Thank

Andy said...

He made it!

Agnes said...

He made what, Andy?
I am amazed it isn't illegal to go for a swim in Gowanus.

Andy said...

Agnes, he made his established goal of swimming the length of the Gowanus Canal with the blessing of the 78th Precinct and the NYPD Harbor Unit.