Man to swim entire length of Boise River

Posted at 5:58 PM, Aug 06, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-06 19:58:23-04

BOISE, Idaho — And now Boise's newly proclaimed River Action Month will see the first water advocate swim the entire 102-mile length of the Boise River.

For Christopher Swain, "testing the waters" just took on a whole new meaning.

"Feels good!" said Swain, testing the temperature of the water.

He better hope it does! He is about to spend the next month swimming in it.

"I think it's really great having a nationally famous swimmer come and be the first person ever to swim the Boise River," said Rep. Ilana Rubel, co-founder, Idaho Business for the Outdoors.

With plans to camp on the banks at night, Swain also has plans for dangerous obstacles.

"I'm gonna get out and walk around the dams and the manmade structures... sometimes I'll have to use a tube or boogie board to get over really shallow boney rapids. But I'll find a way down. I'll stay wet the whole way down," said Swain.

Mayor Dave Bieter proclaimed August as River Action Month at a ceremony Tuesday.

"What a spectacular way to celebrate our rivers while getting that information we need and driving public awareness," said Rubel.

But it's not just to say he did. The water quality advocate-- who's done this before in more than two dozen polluted waterways-- plans to collect samples and data.

"There are gonna be a couple of volunteer water testers who are going to be going along with him, taking water tests along the way," said Rubel.

All in an effort to make the river more fishable, "swimmable," and drinkable.

"We're basically doing an expedition to learn as much as we can about the Boise River, share that with the world, and then invite the world to share their hopes with us."

Along the way, swain will share his location, physiological condition, and water quality data through social media and an app they encourage you to download, called Boise River: Source to Snake.

He'll also meet with 16 Idaho schools of all levels along the way, doing water testing with them, going through clean water camp.

Students-- Swain says-- are his motivating force.

"I think when I look in the eyes of kids and students, I probably see my own daughters in there a little bit, probably see myself as a kid a little bit," said Swain.

Because Swain says, when he was a little boy, he was the kid who never wanted to get out of the water. That passion waded into his adult life.

"I'm willing to risk my life on behalf of these lands and waters that I care about, and I'm willing to speak up for them because that's what I would hope someone would do if I were a kid."

Swain will begin his expedition by swimming across Redfish Lake and hiking 10,000 feet up the Sawtooth Mountains to the source on Thursday. The expedition is expected to take one month.