Exclusive-Olympics-Paris mayor Hidalgo makes plans for June pool party in the Seine

By Thomson Reuters Mar 13, 2024 | 3:04 PM

By Julien Pretot and Elizabeth Pineau

PARIS (Reuters) – Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo doubled down on Wednesday on plans for a dip in the Seine this summer, and nudged the aquatic adventure towards pool party territory as she invited President Emmanuel Macron to dig out his swimming trunks and join her.

Hidalgo said in January that she would swim in the Seine ahead of the Olympics, and on Wednesday she said she was targetting the June 23, when the whole city will celebrate the upcoming Olympics, as a likely date.

Paris has been working on cleaning up the Seine so that people can swim in it again, as was the case during the 1900 Paris Olympics. But a sewer problem last summer led to the cancellation of a pre-Olympics swimming event.

“We’re currently thinking about this swim, which could take place around the (June 23) Olympic Day,” Hidalgo told Reuters.

“We’re looking to see that everyone is ready, that we’re ready, that we can really do things well. A lot of people have told me that they want to come.”

Paris 2024 chief Tony Estanguet wants to take the dive, too, Hidalgo said, along with many others.

President Emmanuel Macron also promised he would swim in the river. Will he do so before Hidalgo?

“If the President wants to come, he’ll obviously be welcome too. But I also have proposals from the Paris fire brigade, a crew from the (French aircraft carrier) Charles de Gaulle two groups from the (elite police tactical unit) GIGN,” Hidalgo said.

“In short, there are a lot of people who want to come. And then there are Parisians and sportsmen and women who also want to come and do this big dive.”

The Seine is now suitable for bathing two days out of three on average in the summer, but Paris is hoping to further improve the water quality as the 2024 Olympics loom.

Former Paris mayor Jacques Chirac in 1988 promised he would swim in the Seine “in the presence of witnesses”. That did not happen.

(Writing by Julien Pretot; Editing by Ingrid Melander)