"The health of our world is a reflection of the choices we make every day."
Christopher Swain is not rich, not a scientist, and not that fast a swimmer. He is a Dad who wants his daughters to grow up in a healthier world.
Swain attended the Waring School in Beverly, Massachusetts, before going on to Wesleyan University, in Middletown, Connecticut, where he received a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1990, after completing a double major in Film Studies and French Literature. He earned his Master of Acupuncture degree from the New England School of Acupuncture, in Watertown, Massachusetts, in 1997.
1992, he founded the Children's Forestry Project (CFP), a non-profit
organization which created opportunities for under-privileged youth to
plant groves and forests of trees on damaged tracts of land in
Colorado, Connecticut, and Massachusetts. The CFP's work was recognized
by groups as diverse as the American Film Institute, and the Shatse
Gaden Monks of Tibet.
In 1995, Christopher started The Human
Rights Company (HRC) a non-profit organization dedicated to increasing
the awareness and dissemination of the Universal Declaration of Human
Rights. In addition to offering guest lectures on Human Rights in local
schools, the HRC produced two high-profile public events, Walk Equal, a
Walk for Human Rights, a torch walk across Massachusetts for Universal Human Rights, and the Connecticut River Swim for Human Rights, a 210
mile river swim in support of Universal Human Rights. Both events drew
praise from local governments, schools and human rights commissions
throughout the Northeast.
On July 1, 2003, Swain became the
first person in history to swim the entire 1,243 mile (2000km) length
of the Columbia River, in the Pacific Northwest. The purpose of his
Columbia River Swim was to raise awareness of the dislocated peoples
and disrupted ecosystems of the Columbia River Basin. His swim is the
subject of the critically-acclaimed documentary SOURCE TO SEA: the Columbia River Swim.
In 2007, SOURCE TO SEA received the Environmental Activism and Social
Justice Award at the EarthVision Film Festival, and the Most Inspiring
Adventure Film Award at the Wild and Scenic Environmental Film Festival.
July 28, 2004, Swain made history again, by completing a 315 mile swim
of the Hudson River's entire length. The purpose of this swim was to
put forward a new vision for the Hudson River: a river that would be
drinkable to all the way to Troy, NY, and swimmable all the way to the
Atlantic Ocean, every single day of the year. Swain's efforts on the
Hudson are chronicled in the public television documentary, SWIM FOR THE RIVER, which was released nationwide in April of 2007.
September 2004, Swain completed his Lake Champlain Swim For Clean
Water, becoming the first person in history to swim the entire length
of that 129 mile (208 km) international waterway. In Vermont, New York,
and the Province of Quebec, he called for measures that would make Lake
Champlain drinkable for future generations.
On November 12,
2004, Swain stroked into the Atlantic Ocean at Boston Harbor,
completing an entire length swim of the Charles River in Massachusetts. The goal of his swim was to make
swimmability the water quality standard on that waterway.
In 2009 and 2010, as part of his Swim For A Healthy World, Swain completed entire length swims of the Mystic, Forest, Waters, and North Rivers, as well as Chelsea Creek in Massachusetts.
In March 2005, at the invitation of United Nations staff, Swain
designed, produced, and emceed a launch event for the United Nations
Water Decade at U.N. Headquarters in New York City. The event, called
BLESSING OF THE WATERS, brought together representatives from every
major religion, and indigenous peoples from North America and beyond,
to offer their prayers and blessings for the waters of the world.
In 1991, Swain became the first
non-native man in history to complete the traditional Apache Run For
The Sun Initiation. In 2003, Swain received an International Earth Day
Award at the United Nations, and an E-chievement Award on National
Public Radio’s etown.
In 2004, he was elected to the Men's Journal Adventure Hall of Fame,
and chosen as Person of the Week on ABC World News Tonight with Peter
In 2005, Swain was the youngest of twenty-one conservationists profiled in Rachel White Scheuring's book, Shapers of the Great Debate on Conservation: A Biographical Dictionary.
In 2007, Swain received the Harry E. Schlenz Public Education Medal from the Water Environment Federation, and was featured in the International Swimming Hall Of Fame book, Swimmers: Courage & Triumph.
Swain has survived collisions with boats,
12-foot waves, lightning storms, class IV+ rapids, toxic blue-green
algae, Lamprey Eel attacks, and water contaminated with everything from
human waste to nuclear waste. He has made presentations to over 70,000 North American schoolchildren. Stories
about his environmental efforts have reached a worldwide media audience of
more than two billion people.
Swain was born in New York City, and raised in Massachusetts. He lived in Oregon from 1999 until 2004, before moving back east.
When he is not swimming in dirty water, Swain is usually found playing with his two young daughters.
Christopher Swain Wants to Recycle Your TV. Ethically.
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