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Follow The Leader: White Sox Dave, Donnie, And I Swam (Surfed) The Chicago River, So Now The Entire City Is Going To Do It (And Probably Contract Hepatitis)

Sun Times - After 12 years of planning, organizers say an open-water swim in the Chicago River is set to be held in September, after receiving approval from the U.S. Coast Guard.

Swimmers may be hesitant to immediately jump into the river’s murky waters, as some raise concerns about bacteria from untreated sewage. On rainy days, runoff water pollution can occur, and swimmers can bump into boat traffic.

“We wouldn’t want to encourage people to swim in the river willy-nilly because you want to make sure you’re safe,” said Margaret Frisbie of Friends of the Chicago River, a nonprofit focused on the river's health.

That’s why organizers set plans to ensure water quality and safety, leading up to the open-water swim — the first one in the Chicago River in more than 100 years. They will track water quality every 15 minutes, using data from the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago and the nonprofit water innovation hub Current.

“We're going to be as transparent as can be with respect to water quality. At the end of the day, if a swimmer just isn't comfortable getting in the Chicago River, then we understand,” said Doug McConnell, a world-renowned swimmer and the event organizer.

Five hundred swimmers are expected to take part in the Chicago River Swim, which starts between the Clark and Dearborn Street bridges and will navigate a looped course between State Street on the east and Wolf Point on the west. They can opt for a one-mile or two-mile swim.

Applications opened Tuesday, and 100 swimmers signed up the first day, McConnell said. The application includes a “rigorous questionnaire” about swimming experience to find qualified athletes, he said.

Oh hey posers. 

Pretty cheeky for the City of Chicago and The "Friends of the Chicago River" (is that even a real organization?) to make a big to-do about this. 

Real ones remember back a few summers ago when Donnie, White Sox Dave and I did this on a whim.

Well, not actually on a whim. White Sox Dave lost a bet, and like he always does, he paid up on it. Dave is no welch! The price of that bet was to take a jump in the river under the Kinzie St. Bridge. Which he did.

The three of us then proceeded the shred the fuck out of that river on our electronic surfboards for like 3 hours.

Watch the video. It's mesmerizing. You'll think you're watching Point Break 2: Escape From Chicago.

(Sidebar - can we talk about this statement from the Friends of the River lady please?

“It demonstrates that the river is a place where people can recreate safely,” Frisbie said.

The use of "recreate" as in recreational put my brain in a pretzel reading it in this article. Never saw that before. Does she actually mean recreate as in procreate? As in fornicate? Is she advocating for swimmers to fuck in the river? So many questions for Frisbie here.)

Real talk, the proceeds from this are going to a great cause, to fund ALS research. So good on these people for donating. 

Proceeds from the Chicago River Swim will also support local learn-to-swim programs for at-risk youth. The event also raises funds for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis research at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine.

p.s. - speaking of the river, where the hell is my Legal Seafood at? The wait is killing me guys.