NEW YORK (AP) – Sleek as a seal in his green and black wet suit, Chris Swain made the finishing strokes Wednesday on an eight-week, 315-mile swim down the Hudson River on behalf of cleaner water.

The last quarter-mile, staged mainly for photographers in an accompanying boat, included a hint of what Swain encountered along the way: floating chunks of wood, plastic bags and the telltale brown foam of raw sewage.

Afterward, the 36-year-old Vermont acupuncturist and triathlete stood on a dock and explained why he did it: “We’re looking for a pristine river, drinkable all the way to Troy and swimmable all the way to the Atlantic, every day of the year.”

Reed Super, a lawyer for the ecological watchdog group Riverkeeper, said the Hudson is “10 to 100 times cleaner” than it was when the federal Clean Water Act went into effect three decades ago. But he said it still contains pesticides and PCBs and in the New York City area is polluted by sewage runoff, especially after rain.

Swain said he developed a rash and was forced to gargle constantly with hydrogen peroxide because of pollutants he ingested while swimming six hours a day, averaging 2 mph.

Swain, who was born in Manhattan, said he hopes enough people get involved in efforts to clean up the Hudson that his two daughters could “jump in here some day without fear.”

This wasn’t the first time he’s done a river marathon: His previous clean-water appeal was a 1,243-mile swim of the Columbia River, completed in 2003.



On the Net:

Swim for Clean Water: http://www.swimforcleanwater.org

AP-ES-07-29-04 0804EDT



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