Press release, written for Ottawa Riverkeeper in 2016.
OTTAWA, Ontario and GATINEAU, Quebec – August 6, 2016: More than 130 swimmers challenged the strength of the Ottawa River this morning as part of the Riverkeeper 4K, an interprovincial open water swim put on by Ottawa Riverkeeper in support of a clean and healthy river. Among them were two local MPs – the Honourable Catherine McKenna, Minister for Environment and Climate Change, and Will Amos, MP for Pontiac, Quebec. Both are longtime advocates for a swimmable, drinkable, fishable river.
The Riverkeeper 4K saw athletes from around the watershed swim four kilometres across the Ottawa River, highlighting the necessity of good water quality and the need to work collaboratively across borders in order to protect our rivers. The starting line was at the Lac Deschênes Sailing Club in Nepean, Ontario, and the race finished at Parc des Cèdres in Aylmer, Quebec. In order to welcome more athletes, families, and participants of all abilities, Ottawa Riverkeeper introduced two shorter swims – a 1.5km race and a 750m race – that began and ended at Parc des Cèdres.
“It really is a community event,” said Riverkeeper Meredith Brown, who swam the 750m race with her family. “The interprovincial crossing reminds us that the Ottawa River watershed is shared by two provinces, over 200 municipalities, and many First Nations communities. We want a swimmable, drinkable, fishable river, and we need to work together to keep improving our water quality.”
“This year’s Riverkeeper 4K was particularly special for us. Just last week, we were celebrating the official designation of the Ottawa River as a Heritage River – and today Minister McKenna, who made that announcement, swam right along with us!” said Patrick Nadeau, Executive Director of Ottawa Riverkeeper. Nadeau was also one of the participants in the 4K race.
The swim was also a fundraiser for Ottawa Riverkeeper, with proceeds going to work in the watershed – specifically, towards eliminating sewage overflows in the National Capital Region. All told, participants raised more than $15,000 in support of a clean Ottawa River watershed.
Many local businesses have been eager to lend their support, including Alterna Bank, MEB Stratégies, and the Green Beaver Company. Ottawa Riverkeeper is very grateful to the sponsors for their support. Their contribution means that the pledges collected by the swimmers can go directly to work on improving the water quality in the Ottawa River.