The London Waterkeeper campaign 'A Thames Fit To Swim In' wants thousands of people in London to be able to use the non-tidal Thames from Hampton Court to Teddington with confidence, whether they swim, kayak or row. Last year I was in Copenhagen to find out how they made their harbours swimmable and how in Aarhus they are working to make its river swimmable too. They have also done this in Munich.
We can make the non-tidal Thames fit to swim in. This is in terms of water quality, safety, access and balancing the interests of different users. If we could create swim zones in west London, and have the river become a Designated Bathing Water, thousands more people would be able to enjoy outdoor swimming. For this to happen we need to know when sewage works discharge to the rivers in the area, have water quality monitoring and establish new partnerships between swimmers, rowers, kayakers etc.
In 2012 the organisation Human Race saw 338 of the 1,000 people swimming from Hampton Court to Kingston get ill. Sadly it has now decided to no longer hold the event.
London Waterkeeper is part of the international federation called Waterkeeper Alliance. It defends the right to clean water and uses advocacy to work for swimmable, fishable and drinkable waters worldwide.