, Salem, MA

Local News

April 23, 2009

Marblehead man takes plunge for clean waters

MARBLEHEAD — Christopher Swain, 41, headed for Washington, D.C., yesterday, and he's not the least bit worried about the traffic over the George Washington Bridge.

That's because Swain is swimming the entire distance to make a statement about the environment and the need to keep our waters free of pollutants.

"I love the water, and I love my kids, and I want to help them grow up in a clean environment," he said prior to setting out.

It'll be, relatively speaking, a leisurely swim, with plenty of stops along the way to instruct school kids and to help in projects like beach cleanups. In fact, Swain estimates the whole journey will consume a year and a half. Further, he expects to swim a maximum of 200 days or two to three days a week.

In the meantime, he plans to finance his journey with donations to his "Adopt a Mile" and "Adopt a Classroom" funds at his Web site

Dozens of onlookers watched Swain's departure. They watched from the State Street Landing dock, from the Landing restaurant, from the roof of the nearby boatyard and from boats out in the harbor. A brisk breeze began blowing off the water, but the bay itself was a remarkable clear sea green.

Selectman Judy Jacobi came early to cheer him on. "I like the fact that he's swimming not to break a record. He's swimming for clean water."

"The water's cold," Swain said in a loud voice — about 40 degrees. "I have a long way to go. The planet's a mess. But I haven't given up."

Daughters Celilo, 5, and Rowan, 8, clung to their father, reluctant to let him go. The Rev. Dennis Calhoun of the Old North Church in Marblehead offered a blessing. Explaining that he's not religious, Swain said, "I think faith is a good thing if you're going to swim 1,000 miles."

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