Paris offers a model to bring swimming to Charles River

By Matt Rocheleau
Boston Globe 

This is the first in a series exploring initiatives around Boston, the country, and the world that have succeeded or hold great promise, from government to business to culture.

Next month, a few hundred people plan to plunge into the Charles River for a rare sanctioned frolic. The annual event will be a reminder of how far the waterway’s cleanup has come since the days when diving in necessitated an immediate shower — or medical attention.

That same week, some 3,400 miles away, Paris will celebrate a far grander urban vision: To fanfare, the city will unveil a trio of public swimming areas in a once-polluted canal that promise a summer-long respite from the heat.

Floating docks will surround the swimming areas. There will be beach chairs and lifeguards. Officials expect to attract 1,000 people daily.

The feat — accomplished fairly easily and quickly — raises the question: If Paris can pull off urban swimming in a natural waterway that’s open all summer long, why can’t we?

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