Paris Implementing ‘Swimming Plan’ to Ready Seine for Paris Olympics

Photo Courtesy: FINA (Twitter)

Paris Implementing ‘Swimming Plan’ to Ready Seine for Paris Olympics

The Seine will host the open water events at the Paris Olympics in 2024, which has required a yearslong “swimming plan” to clean up the waterway.

The New York Times detailed the efforts last week, which includes “thousands of new underground pipes, tanks and pumps designed to prevent damaging bacteria from flowing into the Seine, particularly during storms.” The river is also heavily polluted by industrial waste and heavy metals. The goal is to make the Parisian river a destination for swimmers not just during the Games but sustainably so afterward.

Swimming events were held in the Seine during the 1900 Olympics. Swimming was banned in the river in 1923.

The Seine will host the men’s and women’s 10-kilometer races at the Paris Olympics, the only distances in the open water discipline. It will also handle the swimming leg of the triathlon events.

Being a natural body of water, there’s no guarantee as to the quality of the water those athletes will encounter. The main backup plan appears to be waiting for distance from rains to let the water quality stabilize.

“If it rains for a week continually before the races, we know the quality of water — even with all the work that has been done — probably won’t be excellent,” Pierre Rabadan, Paris’ deputy mayor in charge of Olympic preparations, told the New York Times.

Hand wringing over open water venues has become a regular facet of the Olympic cycle. It crested ahead of the Rio Games in 2016, with concerns of raw sewage and debris in Fort Copacabana. The criticism of Odaiba Marine Park outside of Tokyo was less pressing in 2021, limited to well-worn concerns over water temperature at race time that required schedule adjustments. The last time the Games were in Europe, Serpentine Lake in Hyde Park, London, played host, a more controlled environment.

Since 2020, teams have tested water quality for safety, according to such criteria as E.coli prevalence. About half the samples taken last summer met the targets. Though many Parisians are skeptical of plans to clean up the Seine for daily human use, the organizing committee is using that effort as a hook, hoping it will accelerate a cleaning process already underway.

Read the full story here.

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1 year ago

Paris and the Parisian region are hurriedly getting the storm sewers ready and outlawing septic tanks on riverside properties (Marne and the Seine), as well as cracking down on shantytowns along riverbanks. I just hope Olympic swimmers have all their vaccines.

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