Brookline residents to race in Charles River to bring attention to cleanup efforts


by Steve Annear, Brookline TAB

Brookline — Brookline resident Shoshanna Ehrlich has done it before.

Twice, to be exact.

That’s why swimming in the Charles River doesn’t really bother her too much.

“To be there and see Cambridge and the Citgo sign, and to think we were swimming in the middle of the city, it was so exciting to capture that moment,” said Ehrlich, reflecting on her first Charles River One Mile Swim Race in 2008.

Organized by the Charles River Swimming Club and supported by the Charles River Conservancy, the race begins at the Esplanade and makes a one-mile loop around the lower basin.

Its purpose is to celebrate efforts to restore the water quality of the river and highlight the need for continued clean up to enable recreational swimming in the future.

This year, the race will be held Sunday, July 11.

“This is for fun [and] to get people to imagine how wonderful it would be to have a river in our city that was swimmable,” Ehrlich said. “Unlike a lot of events, this is less about fundraising and more about raising awareness, cleaning up the river and environmental issues.”

Ehrlich, who swims year-round with Liquid Assets New England Swimming Boston Master’s team, said she doesn’t do anything in particular to prepare for the plunge into the river, and she isn’t concerned about winning the race.

“I’m never one of the fastest, but that’s OK; it’s so much fun and exhilarating,” she said.

Ehrlich said although bathing in the river, known for its long history of pollution, doesn’t bother her, friends and family often cringe at the thought.

“People assume it’s not swimmable, and that’s the whole point of this — to highlight the fact that it is possible,” she said. “The organizers are so careful about the water testing.”

While Ehrlich looks at the venture as another dip in the water, Brookline resident Rosemary Lasche prepares for her first plunge into the infamous “dirty water.”

But like Ehrlich, Lasche is less concerned about the condition of the river and is more focused on other aspects of the race.

“My big question is, am I going to wear my wetsuit or not, but I will decide that morning, depending on the weather,” she said.

Lasche has been swimming with a team for the last three years, and uses the activity to train for various triathlons she competes in.

Several years ago, after she developed back issues due to long marathon events, Lasche said she turned to swimming to straighten things out.

“Swimming is a wonderful exercise. It is a very good cardiovascular workout,” she said. “It gives my life an additional focus to have goals and different races to do.”

Although she isn’t worried about winning, she does have a strategy for her first competition in Charles River.

“Throughout the race [I will] concentrate on keeping in a positive fun focus and not think about the hard work,” she said. “My husband is always at every race cheering me on. He’s my good luck charm.”

Steve Annear can be reached at

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