Olympics-Mayor confident Seine pool party will convince river is safe

By Thomson Reuters Apr 30, 2024 | 10:49 AM

By Julien Pretot

PARIS (Reuters) – Mayor Anne Hidalgo is confident that her swimming in the River Seine in June will convince the Parisians that it is safe to bathe in the river.

“To the grumpy ones, I say: ‘Yes, we are going to swim in the Seine.’ We’re going to do it, of course. We’re getting things ready for the big dive, which will happen on the Bras Marie” near the Ile de la Cite and Ile Saint Louis, Hidalgo told reporters on Tuesday as she inaugurated the Georges Vallerey swimming pool. The pool will be used as a training facility for swimmers at the Games and swimmers and triathletes at the Paralympics.

Hidalgo said in January that she would swim in the Seine ahead of the Olympics. Last month, she told Reuters she was targetting 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.

On Thursday, the city will officially unveil a storage basin capable of holding 46,000 cubic metres of waste water to significantly reduce the risks of pollution of the Seine.

“The big dive will be a big moment,” Hidalgo said. “Once it’s done, the Parisians will be convinced that the Seine is a river we’ve been taking good care of.”

Pierre Rabadan, the deputy mayor for sports, already swam in the Seine last summer.

“Pierre already jumped in the Seine, and he’s still alive,” Hidalgo added.

Open water swimming and triathlon events will be held in the Seine at the Paris Olympics.

(Reporting by Julien Pretot; editing by Jonathan Oatis)