NEWS

The Seine has cleaned up its act just in time for the Olympics

The question is, will it remain clean?
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Swimming in the River Seine which runs through the heart of Paris, has been illegal since 1923 due to hidden hazards, dangerous currents, and lots of nasty bacteria, primarily fecal matter.

But now, thanks to an ambitious plan designed by the Paris 2024 Olympic Committee, swimmers are set to dive on in.

river seine paris
The outdated sewer network in Paris previously saw large quantities of untreated sewage make its way into the river, especially after rainfall. (Credit: Getty)

Is the Seine clean for swimming?

For years, a dedicated team of workers has been implementing what is now known as the ‘Swimming Plan’, a €1.4 billion project that installed and upgraded thousands of pipes and pumps across greater Paris to prevent sewage pollution from flowing into the Seine.

On July 17, just over a week prior to the Opening Ceremony, it was confirmed that the river was officially safe for swimming.

“Today we have confirmation that the Seine is swimmable and the triathlon and marathon swimming competitions can take place in it,” President of the Paris 2024 organising committee Tony Estanguet said.

“As organisers we’re very happy to be able to offer athletes the best conditions…but over and above what is at play is using the Games to speed up the transformation of the city and make it possible to swim in the Seine.”

river seine paris
France has poured more than 2.2 BILLION Australian dollars into cleaning up the Seine in time for the Games. (Credit: Getty)

Are the Olympics swimming in the Seine?

Yes, Olympic events will be taking place in the Seine after the government successfully removed harmful bacteria from the river.

Australian triathletes Luke Willian, Matthew Hauser, Natalie Van Coevorden, and Sophie Linn will be sinking into its depths.

They will be joined in the water by Australian marathon swimmers Moesha Johnson, Kyle Lee, Nicholas Sloman, and Chelsea Gubecka.

The triathlon events will take place on July 30th, July 31st, and August 5th while the swimming marathon events will take place on August 8th and 9th. The para-triathlon will take place between the first and second of September.

river seine
The first (legal) swimmers in the River Seine for more than 100 years. (Credit: Getty)

Thankfully, there is a contingency plan in place if there is heavy rain (which could cause a spike in water pollution). This would mean the events scheduled for the river would simply be pushed back “a few days” until the Seine is deemed safe for swimming once more.

Organisers have also confirmed that in the worst-case scenario, the swimming portion of the triathlon will be canceled, and the marathon swimming competition will be relocated if pollution levels rise.

Curiously, this isn’t the first time Olympic events have been held in the world-famous body of water!

During the very first Olympic Games hosted by Paris in 1900, seven swimming events also took place in the river.

river seine paris
This photograph shows the construction site on the banks of the River Seine, with the Grand Palais in the background with ongoing works for the upcoming 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games. (Credit: Getty)

Are you allowed to swim in the Seine?

There are also plans for the River Seine to be made swimmable on a permanent basis following the XXXIII Olympiad with the construction of 20 public beaches along its banks by 2025.

“The Games were just an accelerator for the transformation and improvement of the water quality,” Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo has promised her constituents previously.

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