very 20 minutes Christopher Swain spends swimming in the Hudson River, he gargles with hydrogen peroxide to protect himself from swallowing any toxic chemicals.

Today it tasted like salt, gasoline and metals, and you can smell a little sewage smell," Swain said Tuesday, after taking a short dip in the river to promote his plan to swim the entire 315-mile stretch. He puts the swim's cost at about $19,000, which includes the price of goggles, wet suits and a 12-foot boat to follow him.

Swain, who has competed in the Ironman triathlon, said he's swimming the Hudson -- from the highest peak in New York state to the Verrazano Narrows Bridge in the city -- to encourage corporations, governments and residents to make the river cleaner.

"That's the dream, an absolutely clean Hudson River," said Swain, 36, a New York City native who lives in Colchester, Vt.

The acupuncturist swam 210 miles of the Connecticut River in 1996 and finished the 1,243-mile length of the Columbia River last year to call attention to polluted waters.

For the Hudson swim, set to begin June 3 at New York's Mount Marcy and end July 27 in New York City, he has vaccinated himself to protect against hepatitis, tetanus and typhoid. He plans to swim about six hours a day for 35 days, taking breaks along the way to plead his case to local communities.


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