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Swimmers try to show river is clean 6-21-08
Politicians kicked off their shoes. Aformer deputy governor
walked up with four shirt buttons undone. Four rescue boats
stood by, just in case.
Swimming legends they weren’t, but more than 20 Metro and
state offiials, environmental activists and others swam across the
Cumberland River on Thursday to make a point about the quality
of the water running through the city.
“I don’t think we have any Olympic contenders, but they’re
doing a good job,” bluegrass singer Annie Neeley said as she and
Twelve years later, Vic Scoggin, right, in no hurry to cross the Cumberland River.
her “hillbilly band” got ready to launch into another song on the
Paul Davis, director of water pollution control for the Tennes-
see Department of Environment and Conservation, was the fastest,
finishing in two minutes, 43 seconds, according to the stopwatch
of Metro riverfront redevelopment director Chris Koster.
The spectacle attracted crowds on both riverbanks. About 100
bureaucrats, attorneys, lobbyists and children watched the swim-
mers dive in near Riverfront Park and emerge, some 500 feet later,
near LP Field.
The crowds might have been smaller if not for a recent spat
between Metro Council members.
Charlie Tygard called the event “a crazy publicity stunt” last
week and said it could encourage teenagers to swim what he con-
siders a dangerous river.
Emily Evans, who started organizing the event last fall, said the
river was safe and pointed out that every swimmer would wear a
Evans, one of five council members who swam, also said sew-
age overflows into the river have decreased from 2.3 billion gal-
lons in 1989 to 16 million gallons in 2007.
Vic Scoggin a Pegram man who swam all 696 miles of the
Cumberland 12 years ago to draw attention to the river’s filth at
the time, also made the much shorter trek Thursday. Before diving
in, Scoggin said he was glad to see people paying attention to the
river. “It’s a heck of an asset,” he said.
MAN SWIMS ENTIRE LENGTH OF UNCLEAN CUMBERLAND Commercial Appeal, Memphis Tn July 5, 1996. The Associated Press
SWIMMER TO COVER CUMBERLAND RIVER Commercial Appeal, Memphis Tn May 1, 1996. The Associated Press
"Impact of silt disputed at hearing for marina." Tennessean [Nashville, TN] 24 Oct. 2003
"SWIMMER CONTINUES." Kentucky Post [Covington, KY] 29 May 1996
"SWIMMER FIGHTS POLLUTION TRAVELED LENGTH OF CUMBERLAND." Kentucky Post [Covington, KY] 5 July 1996,
Activist Spotlight www.biologicaldiversity.org/action/spotlight/index.html
Swam Cumberland, Still Saving Rivers
Could you — or would you
— swim the entire length of the Cumberland River for the sake of endangered
wildlife? In 1996, Vic Scoggin — environmentalist, Tennessean, boat captain,
Center supporter and much more — made the 696-mile swim to publicize the
importance of saving the Cumberland and its diversity of species from water
pollution. He’s gone to great lengths to save a Nashville crayfish population
from being buried by a marina — with, he says, the help of Center materials —
and he now wants to help the Center save the Obey crayfish. He’s helped with our
campaigns for Southeast environmental causes (and others) since 2009.
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