The New York Times: A Fetid Protest: Swimming The Gowanus Canal

Wall Street Journal: A Do-Over For The Gowanus Swimmer

New York Daily News: Clean Water Advocate To Attempt 2nd Swim In Gowanus Canal Gowanus Canal Swim Activist Planning A More In-Depth Toxic Plunge

CBS TV: Activist Christopher Swain Completes Gowanus Canal Swim In Attempt To Bring Awareness

PIX11 TV: Clean Water Advocate Takes On Challenge To Swim Polluted Gowanus Canal Again

New York Post: Activist Swims Through Gowanus Canal to Show How Gross It Is

Park Slope Stoop: Christopher Swain Swims the "Lavender Lake"

NY1 TV: Activist Swims Brooklyn's Gowanus Canal To Make Point About Pollution

The Brooklyn Eagle: Activist Christopher Swain Swims The Gowanus Canal In Spite Of EPA Warnings

The Brooklyn Paper: "Toxic Avenger Conquers, Tastes Gowanus Canal Swimmer Tackles Gowanus Canal, Risks Health For Clean Water

Gothamist: Man Successfully Swims Entire Gowanus Canal, Feels Gross (includes a great photo gallery)

AP (Associated Press) Story on ABC News 10 Site: Clean Water Advocate To Attempt Gowanus Swim Again





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 Street, Brooklyn, NY (next to Union Street 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.


Crews who set up near the Union Street Bridge (480 Union Street, Brooklyn) can capture Swain answering questions in his drysuit, gloves, and boots (visualize a swimmer swathed in a combination of Hi-Visibility, Hazardous Materials, and Search and Rescue gear), as well as Swain swimming amidst a flotilla of canoes and kayaks and other vessels that are part of his safety and science team on his way downstream.


  • Christopher Swain was born in New York City. He swam the entire 315-mile length of the Hudson River, for clean water, back in 2004.

  • The Gowanus Canal carves a 1.8 mile long path through the Borough of Brooklyn, and is named after a Native American Lenape Chief.

  • A layer of sludge 10 - 20 feet thick, spiked with coal tar, heavy metals, and toxic compounds, covers the bottom of the Canal.

  • Dangerous levels of bacteria and viruses, including gonorrhea, have been found in the Canal’s waters as a result of raw sewage discharges.

  • 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.”

    MEDIA CONTACT: Christopher Swain at 617-233-4120, Or, Sue McGovern at 781-315-3400, # # #


Here are some links to news stories about Christopher's April 22, 2015 Swim of the upper Gowanus Canal:

New York Times story about Swain's Gowanus Canal Swim

CBC News Story about Gowanus Swim

Huffington Post Blogger gets into Swain's Gowanus Swim

New York Magazine Account of Swain's Earth Day Swim in the Gowanus Canal

People Magazine Catches a Whiff of the Gowanus Swim

Guardian Newspaper Gives Heads-Up About Gowanus Swim

Scientific American article answers the question, "What Is Swain Wearing in the Canal?"

Wall Street Journal article about Swain's Gowanus Canal Swim

New York Daily News has some fun with Christopher's Gowanus Canal Swim

Christopher talks about his Gowanus Swim With Chris Hayes on MSNBC

WNYC Radio Interview with Leonard Lopate after Christopher's Earth Day Swim in the Gowanus

Slate Article about Christopher's Swim of the Gowanus Canal

Newsweek Article about Christopher's Swim of the Gowanus Canal

 Christopher Swain in front of the Gowanus Canal, just downstream of the Third Street Bridge in Brooklyn, NY

Christopher Swain in front of the Gowanus Canal, just downstream of the Third Street Bridge in Brooklyn, NY