Swim The Charles!

The first community swim in 50 years is Saturday.

For decades the Charles River Conservancy and a slew of other area environmental and city organizations have been working to bring swimming back to the Charles, and on Saturday all their hard work will pay off.

We know what you’re thinking. Ew! Gross, really? Swim in the Charles? There are constant reminders of the dirty, dirty past of the Charles River and the Boston Harbor. There’s sewage runoff signs on the jogging route, and at the end of every Red Sox game Dirty Water by the Standells blares over the loud speakers. (If you live nearby you know every word.) But did you know that up until the mid-1950s, swimming in the river was a popular activity? We have a beautiful waterfront. It’s just easy to forget when you can’t jump in.

The clean-up began in 1995 when the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) created the Charles River Initiative.  Nine years later in 2004, a group of public and private partners along with the Charles River Conservancy launched the Swimmable Charles Initiative to continue the cause. The Conservancy estimates that nearly $500 million has been spent to clean up the river over the last two decades. The money went to water quality improvements, testing, and education. The water’s been tested and is ready for the public swim.

The Boston Foundation says that the current yellow tinge of the Charles is caused by natural tannins in the plants along and in the river, and not from pollution.:

The river’s toxic history remains in the industrial sediment on the bottom, but for swimmers on the surface, the Charles is ready and waiting.

The swim, which was capped at 144 people, is from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. off the River Dock at the Esplanade near Hatch Shell, and of course, is sold out. This is Boston, one of the fittest, smartest, coolest cities in the world. Do you really think our residents would pass up history? No chance. But you can waitlist and sign up for future events at thecharles.org.