Swim for the River
Christopher Swain earned his Master of Acupuncture degree from the New England School of Acupuncture, in Watertown, Massachusetts, in 1997. Upon graduation, he served as acupuncturist to the U.S. National Rowing Team.
In 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, Swain started The Human Rights Company (HRC) a non-profit organization dedicated to increasing the awareness and dissemination of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
On 1 July 2003, Swain became the first person in history to swim the entire 1,243 mile (2000 km) length of the Columbia River, in the Pacific Northwest. The purpose of the 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.
On 28 July 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, New York, 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.
In 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 12 November 2004, Swain stroked into the Atlantic Ocean at Boston Harbor, completing an entire length swim of the Charles River designed to make swimmability the water quality standard on that waterway.
On 27 April 2010, as part of his Swim For A Healthy World, Swain completed an entire length swim of the Mystic River in Massachusetts.
Swain's Lake Champlain, Hudson River, and Charles River swims were a series of clean water swims designed in part to bridge the gap between the United Nations International Water Year 2003, and the United Nations Decade of Action "Water For Life" 2005-2015.
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.
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. Swain has made clean water education presentations to over 60,000 North American schoolchildren. Stories about his clean water swims have reached a worldwide media audience of more than two billion people.
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 Jennings. 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.