Christopher Swain swims Newtown Creek

Davedevil swimmer: Newtown Creek filthier than the Gowanus Canal

The Brooklyn Paper
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The filthiest waterway in Brooklyn isn’t the Gowanus Canal — it is Newtown Creek!

So says the only man who could possibly know for sure: Christopher Swain, the one person in history to successfully swim both toxin-filled inlets.

And he made the announcement minutes after emerging from the so-called water of Newtown Creek — which he swam from end to beginning (or beginning to end, depending on how you look at it) on Wednesday.

“That’s definitely the worst water I’ve ever been in. Not even a question,” Swain told The Paper before going on a “This is Spinal Tap”-inspired speech about just how filthy the waterway is. “Everything is turned up to 11. The petroleum was at 11, the sewage was at 11, the industrial weird smell is at 11, the floating trash is at 11. It’s cartoonishly bad and palpably worse in every way then the Gowanus.”

The daredevil diver described his latest bath in toxins in vivid detail at a press conference that followed the pungent plunge, and related spectacles that included poop mixed with leaves and a tea bag, along with Coney Island whitefish (that’s condoms) and “a lot of trash.”

“Right away when we got onto the water, the smell of poo was so strong I actually started to feel like I was going to vomit, and that didn’t happen on the Gowanus,” Swain explained. “And then as we started, I noticed there were literally chunks of poo in the water, floating.”

Swain’s swim through the revolting creek, where city pipes routinely purge thousands of gallons of raw sewage whenever it rains, was particularly nasty thanks to the fact it showered the day before, and the rain continued on and off Wednesday.

During his swim through the Gowanus in October, Swain was surrounded by a frothy concoction of emulsified grease, fats, and oils, which he likened to the soapy layer of a bubble bath.

The same greasy foam wasn’t in Newtown Creek, but he said the stink of sewage was strong throughout and that oil pollution was much more prevalent, especially around the creek’s headwaters near the Grand Street Bridge in Greenpoint.

The daredevil diver got a mouthful of water at two points during the nearly three-hour swim, forcing him to rinse his mouth with hydrogen peroxide, and oily water slipped through his goggles and got into his left eye, causing a burning sensation.

Swain says he’s not eager to get back into the creek, but that’s exactly what he’s going to do sometime in January.

Today’s swim saw Swain navigate the Newtown’s East Branch tributary, and the creek proper. However, he still plans on swimming English Kills, Dutch Kills, Whale Creek, and Maspeth Creek, the creek’s four remaining branches.

The daredevil dove in to draw attention to the waterway and galvanize the support necessary clean it up.

“What I’m concerned about is a situation where it drags out for a long time and we end up with a partial cleanup,” said Swain. “The finish line for the cleanup needs to be the same as Gowanus, in that it’s safe to swim everyday.”

The creek, named a federal “Superfund” site in 2010 is one of the most polluted waterways in the northeast, containing a toxic mix of chemicals that have leaked from its industrial banks in both Brooklyn and Queens for more than 150 years.

— with Louise Wateridge

Reach reporter Colin Mixson at or by calling (718) 260-4505.
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

HONEY Pooter says:
This smacks of lies and corruption. Is it any coincidence that John Paper was seen lunching (bribery?) with Ronald Gowanus - just hours before this article was published??
Dec. 24, 2015, 9:36 am
bored from Bklyn says:
He's not doing anything for the creek or canal but rather for his own attention getting self.

People have dedicated real time and resources over the years to get these water bodies superfunded for cleanup. This Johnny-smim-lately is trying to get credit for the hard work of others.

And it shows he knows nada, as both water bodies get the same gook when it rains heavily as it did this day. It's something called combined storm water and sewage overflow. Had he swam the Gowanus during a heavy down pour, he would have experienced the same thing there. What a clown fish!

Mom must not have payed enough attention to this guy and perhaps forgot him in the tub where he ultimately defecated and enjoyed it. This sounds like he's trying to get back into the womb.
Dec. 24, 2015, 10:11 am
Peter from Newtown Creekside Heights says:
I second HONEY Pooter - the fix is in. Also, it didn't rain for several days preceding his dip in the Gowanus, so he didn't get to adequately sample the local effluvia.
Dec. 24, 2015, 10:38 am
no comment from Brooklyn says:
Bored is right, please don't comment on this fraud hero. The more attention you give this fake, the more dumb stories this paper will write.

BP- the guy is no one and has no following. Give us stories of relevance. Please.

No mas!
Dec. 24, 2015, 10:56 am
jjm from c. hill says:
Trust me, im not giving this dude any attention. Like i said in another board, its people like this guy is who has no other priorities in the world other than to swin dirty waterways. Meanwhile, us real folks have other little things to worry about like struggling to pay bills & this high azz rent. Go back to whereever he's from, nyc doesnt need another out-of-towner giving us more unwanted attention over something that the average ny'er doesnt give a damn about.
Dec. 24, 2015, 11:31 am
BlackBerry from candy says:
You people are pathetic for reading this crap I mean don't you have anything better to do than making your self look stupid
Dec. 24, 2015, 2:16 pm
Beth from Park Slope says:
BlackBerry is not a real person, just the author trying to distract from the deception.
Wake up people!
Dec. 24, 2015, 3:40 pm
The Chooch from The Bohemian Magic Show says:
A big cheer for Christopher Swaine for drawing attention to the lowdown crying shame that was "authentic" Brooklyn. Inexcusable neglect. More butts will be bounced, and deservedly so.
Dec. 25, 2015, 2:39 pm
jeez from town says:
Oh yea Chooch, give this goof credit for bringing attention to something that's already under the spotlight by residents, environmental groups, city and federal government including being superfunded.

Sounds like Chooch just commented to give himself some attention rather than say anything relevant. These birds of a feather should swim together.

And the only neglect was that of our government for allowing the pollution of our waterways, pollution that our government continues today with storm water and sewage overflow. And what about government permissible air emissions standards? When will it end - perhaps with a new government controlled by the people rather than the one we have now that's controlled by the government.

And BTW Chooch, much if not most of Newtown Creek is in Queens. Maybe you should move there as it's up and coming for newbee's like you!
Dec. 28, 2015, 10:49 am
Brian from Greenpoint says:
Thanks for keeping the eyes on the prize. Maybe as a result of his efforts, Mr. Swan will develop superhuman strength and durability, telepathic dominion over plantlife, shapeshifting and hyperelasticity abilities, able to create new bodies out of plants!
Jan. 4, 2016, 10:06 pm

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