Inaugural D.C. Marathon Swim pushes for open access to the Potomac


WASHINGTON (WDVM) — The Inaugural D.C. Marathon Swim was held in the Potomac River on Friday, Oct. 8.

Seven solo swimmers and three relays made up of eleven more swimmers started at Fletcher’s Pointe and swam 20.5 miles to Mount Vernon. The marathon began around sunrise and the fastest swimmers were expected to finish in about seven hours, while those rounding out the group would take about 12 hours.

The point of the marathon is about paving the way for the Potomac to be accessible to everyone.

“We want to just show that D.C. waters are open for the public. These rivers are clean and swimmable,” Jim Loreto, the Co-Race Director for D.C. Marathon Swim said.

The co-directors of the race had to get a permit from the Department of Environment and Energy in order to hold the event in the river. The water also had to be tested and pass E.P.A. standards. Dennis Crean, the other co-director, said he has been swimming in the river water for over a decade, just farther downstream in the National Harbor.

Crean said, “The Potomac has become healthier and healthier. We’ve been swimming in it for 12 years, and we’ve reached a point publicly and privately where we can hold an event like this.”

A big part of the event, Ward 2 Councilmember Brooke Pinto, who blew the whistle to start the swimmers. She said it is important for her to show her support for opening up the Potomac.

“My hope is that moving forward, we can continue working with the D.O.E.E. to make sure the regulations catch up to where we are now, which is a presumption of swimability and testing to make sure the water quality is where it needs to be.”

As the river continues being cleaned up and potentially opens for recreational swimming in the future, Councilmember Pinto said she hopes to designate roped-off areas for swimmers that are the safest areas to swim when it comes to the current and depth of the water.

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