Brooklyn's Gowanus Canal is one of the nation's most polluted bodies of water — and that's exactly why environmental activist Christopher Swain attempted to swim its 1.8-mile length on Earth Day yesterday. He wanted to draw attention to the putrid condition of the water.
And the cleverly designed publicity stunt was a success. The moment anyone heard that a man was swimming the Gowanus Canal, the universal reaction was a shrill "Ew!"
The 47-year-old wore a GoPro camera to record the swim as well as protective gear (including water barrier cream on his face) to fend off the harmful substances. He also had activated charcoal tablet at the ready lest he swallow some of the sewage-laden water.
Apparently, the infamous canal lived up to its reputation.
About two-thirds of the way through, Swain called it quits, saying he feared approaching storms could put his crew of assistants in danger. And yes, he got some of the toxic water in his mouth.
"It tasted like mud, poop, ground-up grass, detergent, gasoline, and you know if you drink one of those green drinks and you get that gritty, sandy feeling in your mouth? Like that," he told the New York Daily News. Gag.
This wasn't his first stunt of this nature, though. In 2004, Swain paddled the entire length of the 315-mile Hudson River to bring awareness to its contaminated state.
With all this media coverage, plus the dozens of onlookers at the canal, it seems Swain has accomplished at least the first part of his goal. The next step? A "Gowanus Canal that’s a jewel, that’s a diamond, that sparkles in the sun," he said.
We definitely share that hope with him. But for now, let's just hope he doesn't get dysentery in exchange for his brave act.
(h/t New York Daily News)