About ten years ago, Christopher Swain developed a crush on a river. He was living in Eugene, Oregon and became fascinated with the Columbia River, which runs from the wilds of Canada into the Pacific Ocean northwest of Portland. When Lewis and Clark explored the Pacific Northwest, the river was 'clear at any depth', no pollution, no dams, and full of fish. Christopher saw that the river had been abused and contaminated over the years, and wanted to do something to help.
He decided to swim the entire length of the river to draw attention to its plight. He went on to swim other bodies of waters he loves - the Hudson and Charles Rivers, and Lake Champlain - and is now swimming down the Atlantic coast. Janet Babin talks with Christopher about swimming in the shadow of nuclear power plants, close encounters with wildlife, and why doing these crazy swims might make a difference.