As part of his mission to protect threatened waterways, Christopher Swain was the first person in history to swim the entire lengths of the Columbia, Charles, Hudson, Mohawk, Mystic, and East Rivers, as well as Lake Champlain, the Gowanus Canal, Newtown Creek, Long Island Sound, Narragansett Bay, and large sections of the Atlantic coast of the United States.

During his swims, Swain has survived collisions with boats, 12-foot waves, lightning storms, class IV+ rapids, waterfalls, logjams, toxic blue-green algae, blood-sucking Lamprey Eels, oil slicks, raw sewage spills, Great White Shark habitat, and water laced with arsenic, cyanide, dioxin, radioactive waste, PCBs and neuro-toxic pesticides.

In March 2003, Swain received an International Earth Day Award from the Earth Society at United Nations Headquarters in New York City. 

Later that year, he received an e-chievement Award on National Public Radio’s e-town.

In 2004, he was elected to the Men's Journal Adventure Hall of Fame, and was featured as Person of the Week on ABC World News Tonight with Peter Jennings.

In 2005, at the invitation of United Nations staff, Swain designed, produced, and emceed a launch event for the United Nations Decade of Action Water For Life 2005-2015, at U.N. Headquarters in New York City. The event, called BLESSING OF THE WATERS, brought together representatives from every major religion, and indigenous peoples from around the globe, to offer their prayers and blessings for the world's waters.

In 2006, Swain became the youngest of twenty-one conservationists profiled in Rachel White Scheuring's book, Shapers of the Great Debate on Conservation: A Biographical Dictionary.

In 2007, Swain received the Harry E. Schlenz Public Education Medal from the Water Environment Federation, and was featured in the International Swimming Hall Of Fame book, Swimmers: Courage & Triumph.

Over the last two decades, Swain has worked with over 80,000 North American schoolchildren, and stories about his environmental efforts have reached a worldwide media audience of more than four billion people.

As much as Swain enjoys his dips in cold, contaminated water, he is happiest when playing with his two daughters.