Wendy swims the Charles

Boston has long been known for its dirty water. Boston Harbor, the “dirtiest harbor in America,” was a campaign liability for 1988 candidate Michael Dukakis. It’s hard to change a reputation, but the harbor is actually very clean these days. Just today the Globe had a story on a massive holding tank to prevent sewage outfall during heavy rains, calling it the last big piece of the Boston Harbor cleanup.

The Charles River, which as we like to say here, empties into Boston Harbor to form the Atlantic Ocean, is also famous for its filth. But wait! Here’s a picture of my wife Wendy (she’s on the right) with another Watertown swimmer, Katie O’Dair. And what are they doing? Why they’ve just finished swimming a mile-long race in the Charles sponsored by the Charles River Swimming Club. The FAQ for the site doesn’t pull any punches: “the short answer to the question of whether the Charles River is swimmable is, quite simply, ‘no.'” But happily we learn, “the Charles River Swimming Club has put a number of measures into place to ensure that the race can be conducted in a safe manner.” Like the obligatory tetanus shots before and after the race. Kidding! I’m kidding! Just look at the smiles on those kids. They’re the best evidence of the improving fortunes of the Charles.

Although I still think the organizers missed a great opportunity to call the race the Up-Chuck Plunge.