Gowanus might be the night hot neighborhood in Brooklyn, but that hasn’t done anything to fix its Canal, previously seen being so poisonous an injured dolphin that washed up in it was left to die. A card that says “The Gowanus Canal is gross, don’t jump in it,” even comes in people’s Brooklyn Starter Packs when they move here. Everyone’s pretty much on board with the idea of not swimming in the Gowanus. Everyone except one man, clean waterway activist Christopher Swain, who’s planning to jump in and swim the length of the canal on Wednesday in order to call attention to the fact that the canal is gross. Makes sense to us.
There have been kayakers and canoers in the industrial waters of the Gowanus before, but Swain’s is a stunt that surpasses all of these attempts and makes them look much less crazy. The plan for Wednesday is for Swain to jump in the Gowanus Canal at 12:30pm from the park next to the Whole Foods and swim the length of the PCB, bacteria and coal tar-laden canal down to the New York Harbor. To protect himself, Swain will be wearing a suit that a press release describes as “a combination of Hi-Visibility, Hazardous Materials, and Search and Rescue gear,” which for his sake we hope doesn’t get a rip or anything, considering that a mouthful of water from the Gowanus has so many fun microbes in it.
For Swain, this is nothing new, as he’s previously swam other dangerous bodies of water and managed to get himself plenty sick, swimming through dangerous conditions and even nuclear contamination, all part of his environmental activism. God knows it puts your composting to shame. The goal of this swim, according to Swain, is to bring attention to the idea of cleaning up the Gowanus more quickly. We suppose that jumping in and possible coming out looking like something from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is a more immediate way to get attention for that cause as compared to just lobbying your local elected officials.
As if Swain’s attempt to swim the entire Gowanus Canal isn’t gross enough on its own, it’s supposed to rain on Wednesday, which as you all know means sewage discharge and that the Gowanus will have more literal shit in it than usual. So come on down and watch Swain jump tomorrow, but just be prepared to lie and say you swear you tried to stop him when he winds up being mutated into a creature that makes The Fly look like the World’s Sexiest Man.