The Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn, New York, long used as a garbage dump for factories producing manufactured gas, chemicals, fertilizers, and the like (as well the New York sewer system) is, as you might imagine, incredibly polluted. How polluted is it? It's so polluted that microbes found in the canal have mutated to an extent that baffles science, and drinking some of the water would probably lead to E.coli and dysentery and possibly to cancer and sterilization. All of this to say: it is not a good place to swim, which did not stop "clean water activist" Christopher Swain from attempting to swim the length of the canal today to "raise awareness for clean water." What type of awareness, precisely, Swain was hoping to raise by submerging himself in one of the most polluted waterways in the country while simultaneously proclaiming that the health risks were "so overblown" is unclear, but a bunch of New York media outlets are talking about him, so apparently it worked. Swain made it two thirds of the way down the canal before calling it quits due to an impending thunderstorm, ironically telling the assembled reporters, "It's not safe to swim in there."
· Man Cuts Dip In The Gowanus Canal Short: "It's Not Safe To Swim In There" [Gothamist]
· LIVE BLOG: Man swims the Gowanus Canal — the world's most polluted waterway! [Brooklyn Paper]
· Gowanus Canal coverage [Curbed NY]