What is Urban Swim?
Urban Swim is an organization dedicated to providing safe access to clean water.
We stage open water swim events in urban areas as a means of fostering a relationship between people and water. Our events introduce people to the recreational possibilities of their local waterways, and in so doing, raise their awareness of water quality issues.
Our activities in support of safe access to clean water are not limited to our open water swim events. We are also actively involved in other initiatives including dock sharing, water testing, free kayaking programs, support of other open water swim events, partnerships, and political advocacy.
Urban Swim Intiatives:
Urban Dockshare Program
The Urban Dockshare program facilitates lending a set of modular floating docks that can be configured and relocated for different water based activities. Currently a set of 4 floating docks which were used for Urban Swim open water swim events were reconfigured and are now on loan to 2 different boathouses on the East River in New York City for launching kayaks and other human powered watercraft. Moving forward, we hope to acquire more docks to extend this program to more community based organizations.
The Citizens Water Quality Testing Program
The Citizens Water Quality Testing Program helps boaters, swimmers, and fishers in New York Harbor make informed decisions about water use. Samples are gathered from various sites in New York Harbor, mostly recreational areas. Urban Swim collected water samples at the Stuyvesant Cove site on the East River of Manhattan for the inaugural testing phase of this program, and continues to sponsor testing at this site.
Community Based Free Kayaking Programs
Urban Swim is actively involved in several not for profit human powered boathouses in the New York City area. We have volunteered for several community based free kayaking events run by the Long Island City Boathouse, and are the proud co-founders of free kayaking programming offered at Stuyvesant Cove, NYC.
Open Water Swim Kayak Support
Not only does Urban Swim provide on water support for it’s own open water swim events, we also provide on water kayak support for other open water swim events. Urban Swim volunteers have provided kayak support of the open water swim segments of the NYC Triathlon, the inaugural NYC Ironman, and open water swim events in Coney Island.
Urban Swim works with several individuals and organizations that share our vision of supporting access to clean water. Our “patron Saint”, Martin Strel, is world renowned for his swims down the lengths of polluted rivers (the Mississpi, the Yangtzee and the Danube, for example) in order to raise awareness of water quality. Other organizations we work with include Riverkeeper, the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance, the NYC Watertrail Association, and the Lower East Side Ecology Center, to name a few.
As local governments develop plans to address clean up of urban waterways, it is important that the needs of recreational users are voiced. Urban Swim representatives have testified on behalf of open water swimmers regarding waterfront legislation in New York City. We were also actively involved in information gathering and planning meetings regarding the East River Blueway plan for recreational development of the East River waterfront of Manhattan.