Waving goodbye to a teary-eyed daughter and in front of a crowd of about three-dozen supporters and media members, Marblehead resident and environmental activist Christopher Swain, 41, began his 1,000-mile Swim for a Healthy World Wednesday, Earth Day.
Waving goodbye to a teary-eyed daughter and in front of a crowd of about three-dozen supporters and media members, Marblehead resident and environmental activist Christopher Swain took the leap into the Atlantic Ocean off the pier at town landing off State Street Wednesday, Earth Day.
The 41-year-old started his Swim for a Healthy World with the sun shining high, and to cheers and applause. He then stroked his way around Marblehead Neck, stopping at times to catch his breath. His stroke was crisp except for a few instances when the choppy waves pushed him back.
The Marblehead sendoff was just day one of what is expected to be a two-year effort to raise awareness about issues facing the environment. During that time, Swain will swim intermittently about three days a week. In the meantime, he will visit 2,000 classrooms along the Eastern seaboard as he travels from Marblehead to Washington, D.C., hopefully inspiring students to work on their own projects of change.During Swain’s campaign, he will swim approximately 1,000 miles, an average of about six hours per day for 200 days. His route will take him route out and around Cape Cod, down the Atlantic coast, into Chesapeake Bay, and up the Potomac River. This won’t be the first time Swain has stroked through cold, dirty water to launch an environmental education project. He is the first person in history to have swum the entire lengths of the Charles, Columbia and Hudson rivers, as well as Lake Champlain. “We’re facing two major environmental challenges right now, global climate destruction and all sorts of threats to the web of life and to biodiversity,” Swain said before the swim. “If we don’t solve those two problems, the planet will be too hot to live on, and it won’t be able to support life.”
Swain said he’s reaching out to the younger generation so that they will put the pressure on their parents to make better decisions.
“It’s very difficult for adults to convince other adults to change their behavior,” he said. “I’m part of the problem, and I don’t want to hear it from other adults who know what I should be doing. But I do listen to my kids, even if it’s just because they bug, bug, bug me.”
One of Swain’s biggest supporters of the mission is his mother Kristin Mellen, who was at the landing to see him off. She said she’s proud of her son for taking on such a challenge.
“A lot of people talk about it, but he feels you can’t just talk, you have to walk the talk,” she said.Or swim the talk.
Swain, who will be in and out of town throughout his journey, had one last thing to say to those who might find what he’s doing a bit crazy.
“If wanting to find a meaningful solution to global climate destruction and ecosystem destruction is crazy, then I am completely insane,” he said.
To read Swain’s personal updates on his journey, visit www.changents.com/christopherswain.