Back in April, environmental activist and would-be cancer receptacle Chris Swain endeavored to swim the length of the highly toxic Gowanus Canal, only to have his dream curtailed by rain, of all things. Standing on the rocky bank near the neighborhood's Whole Foods, Swain made a promise to the 50 or so reporters who had eagerly assembled to watch him die: "We put a man on the moon. We split the atom. Someone can swim the Gowanus Canal," he said at the time.
On Saturday, Swain will take another crack at his long-delayed dream, this time firmly committed to completing the entire 1.8-mile swim through the sludge.
“Basically, I want to keep the promise,” Swain told the Wall Street Journal. “I don’t want to do a partial swim any more than I want to see a partial cleanup of the canal.”
April's attempt was met with a number of setbacks. Confusion over where he would exit the canal delayed Swain's start time by two hours, since property owners at his predetermined end point had apparently not signed off on letting this strange man rinse toxic goop off on their land. By the time the OK was finally given, dark rain clouds had blocked out the sun, and a downpour was clearly imminent. Stormy weather is the worst time for a dip in the canal, since raw sewage bypasses the city's treatment plants and heads straight into the waterway...and thus, into Swain's mouth. On the advice of his handlers and anxious city officials, he exited the water after paddling only three quarters of a mile.
But Swain is intent on realizing his twinned goals of both swimming the length of the Gowanus and raising awareness of its toxicity. "I don't want to do a partial swim any more than I want to see a partial cleanup of the canal,” he told DNAinfo. "I'd like to see every waterway in New York City be cleaned up to the point where it’s safe for swimming every day."
Click here for more information on Saturday's death swim.