May 21st, 2009 5:33 pm | by Adrienne So News | Posted In: CLEAN UP, Sports, Politics, Environment

Swimming the Willamette for $25,000 and a Shark Suit

Tags: Outdoors
portlandbridgeHappy Thursday! Here's picture of the Willamette, running through downtown Portland on a beautiful sunny morning. Doesn't it look gorgeous? Almost gorgeous enough to make you forget that it's 99 percent poo pieces?

We've discussed swimming in the Willamette before, and as I recall, we were iffy on the swimming last year as well. But organizers from the annual Freshwater Trust Portland Triathlon, and the Musselman Triathlon (Geneva, New York) are banking on the fact that $25,000 and an Aqua Zone Renegade skinsuit might make you change your mind.

On August 22, they and four partners are staging the inaugural Aqua Zone Portland Mile, which is actually a mile and a half! The race kicks off from RiverPlace Marina and will trace a rectangle between the Hawthorne and Morrison Bridges, which should make it easy to watch and whet your appetite for the Freshwater Trust Portland Triathlon the very next day.

It should be a huge event, with tons of fantastic pro and amateur athletes. One of the top open-water swimmers in the world, Trent Grimsey, has already signed up. Steve Munatones, a former 25K world champion and coach of the USA National Open Water Swimming team, will be giving a pre-race three-hour open water clinic.

But for me, the main draw is making an invisible river highly, highly visible. Despite the fact that we drive, bike or walk over the Willamette every day, very few of us give the river a second thought (that first thought usually being, "Gross"). But what better way to draw attention to the state of the river than by throwing a couple hundred brave souls directly into it?

For everyone who has the guts to stick their WHOLE BODIES and FACES into the river this summer, I salute you. Now excuse me while I go take a shower. To register for the Aqua Zone Portland Mile, click here.

Photo, courtesy Adrienne So.
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