Seeking to inspire citizens around the globe to protect their local waterways as part of the United Nations International Decade for Action on Water, long distance swimmer Christopher Swain today became the first person in history to swim the entire 315-mile length of the Hudson River.
Mr. Swain, of Colchester, Vermont, hailed the decision to proclaim 2005 to 2015 as the Decade as a promising first step. "But if we truly hope to protect the world's waterways, each of us needs to see clean water as a basic human right," he added.
The Hudson is one of the world's best known rivers. Boasting one of the longest estuaries in the world, the river empties into the Atlantic Ocean at New York City, home of the United Nations. Yet the Hudson is far from pristine: like many of the world's rivers, it is contaminated with everything from PCBs to heavy metals to agricultural chemicals.
Over the last eight weeks Mr. Swain has swum through everything from Class 4 rapids to raw sewage in his quest to increase awareness of the need to protect the Hudson River. He said he hoped to spread his message of clean water and friendship to watersheds around the world.
The last lap of Mr. Swain's swim around down the Hudson was under the Verrazano Bridge.
Marcia Brewster of the UN's Division for Sustainable Development praised his contribution. "The efforts of private citizens such as Mr. Swain on the Hudson River inspire people everywhere to respect, use, enjoy, protect and restore their home waterways."