5th Annual Charles River Master Race


By Marianne Salza, Back Bay Sun

The Charles River Swimming Club (CRSC), the Charles River Conservancy, and the Department of Conservation and Recreation hosted the 5th Annual Charles Master Swimming Race on June 1. One hundred and fifty swimmers dove into the Charles River for a one-mile race that began on the River Dock at the Esplanade, headed toward the Mass. Ave. Bridge, looped around the Cambridge side of the Charles to the Longfellow Bridge, and back to the River Dock.

“It’s a celebration of the clean-up efforts that have gone into the Charles,” says Ulla Hester, CRSC Vice President and Race Director. “It’s a beautiful way to experience an urban area – seeing the skyline of the city.”

In the 1950s, swimming in the Charles was banned due to public health risks associated with the polluted water. If a rower or sailor fell overboard during the 1990s, he or she was advised to get a tetanus shot. Today, the Charles River is one of the cleanest urban rivers in the United States and meets the state’s standards for safe swimming most days of the year; however, public swimming is not yet permitted because of concerns about the sediment at the river bottom.

At 8am, participants jumped into the choppy Charles. It was a brisk way to begin the morning and get one’s heart racing. The avid swimmers were able to experience a view of the city from a perspective seldom seen.

“It’s awesome; it’s something that not a lot of people can say that they have done,” says swimmer, Christian Hurts, of South Boston. “It’s very clean and refreshing. Perfect weather. A great turn out. It was a fun time.”

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