City Splash

City Splash is a community event that provides the public the rare opportunity to swim in the Charles River and raise awareness to bring river swimming back to Boston! This annual state-sanctioned swim, hosted by the CRC, allows the public to experience the joy of swimming in the Charles River—one of the cleanest urban rivers in the United States! The event is held in a demarcated deep-water area off the Fiedler Dock on the DCR Esplanade in Boston. Due to important safety considerations, swimming in the Charles River is only allowed if a permit is obtained from the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (MassDCR) and we work in partnership with MassDCR to obtain a Special Use Permit for this unique event. The CRC has a vision to create a seasonal home for swimming in the Charles, but does not encourage swimming in the Charles outside of permitted events.  

2020 UPDATE

Due to restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic, City Splash has been cancelled for 2020. While we are disappointed not to host the event, we will continue to advance our vision for a healthy and swimmable Charles River and look for more ways to celebrate Charles River swimming later this year. During the 25th anniversary of the EPA’s Clean Charles River Initiative this year, we encourage you to celebrate what we (advocates, agencies, and the community) have achieved in restoring the river thus far and to look for ways you can support a healthier Charles.

HISTORY OF THE SPLASH

The Charles River Conservancy’s first City Splash on July 13, 2013 marked one the first public community swims in the Charles River in more than fifty years. Swimming has been prohibited in the Charles since the 1950’s when a growing awareness of the health risks posed by pollution in the Charles caused the beaches and bathhouses lining the river to close. After years of environmental health progress, most notably the EPA’s Charles River Initiative, swimming is now allowed through state-sanctioned events such as the Charles River Conservancy’s City Splash events and the Charles River Swimming Club’s annual One-Mile Swim Race, which began in 2007.

Participants jump into the Charles River at the 2017 City Splash swim. Photo by Aram Boghosian.

SPONSORSHIP

The CRC is grateful for the support of sponsors over the years who have helped make this event possible.

Think your organization would be a good sponsor for future events? Please contact our Executive Director Laura Jasinski at ljasinski@thecharles.org.

PRESS

See our press page for coverage of past events.

Please contact Lucy Salwen at lsalwen@thecharles.org for all press related questions.

PRAISE FOR CITY SPLASH

“There’s something really great about fresh water. It’s just a great feeling to be able to jump in water that, on a hot day, makes you feel clean and refreshed and invigorated.”– Paul Parravano, Resident, via the Boston Globe

“It would be great if they did this more often…I would be happy if any day you wanted to, it was OK to jump into the river.” – Tim Sullivan, Resident, via the Boston Globe

“It’s a fun, safe swim, and it’s part of the Conservancy’s and my efforts to bring swimming back to Charles.” –State Rep. Jay Livingstone, via the Beacon Hill Times

“When you’re in the water and you look out and see the view, it’s incredible,”– Kathleen McDermott, Resident, via the Boston Globe

MILESTONES

  • 1995: EPA Initiative
  • 1996: Governor Weld Dives into the Charles
  • 2004: The CRC launches the Charles River Swimming Initiative
  • 2013: The CRC hosts the first Charles River Community Swim in the lower basin in over 50 years
  • As of 2020: over 1,200 community members have jumped into the Charles River
Swimmers at the first City Splash event in 2013.

Lead photo by Topher Baldwin.