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Charles River, Boston's Famously Filthy Waterway, Hosts Community Swim

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BOSTON - JULY 4: From left to right: Tim Peterson of Falmouth, Teddy Barnes of Falmouth, Talia Landry of Mashpee, Mark Phillips of Brookline and Sam Shapiro of Falmouth wade into the Charles River in an attempt to cool off as they wait for fireworks in Boston, July 4, 2013. (Photo by Jessica Rinaldi for The Boston Globe via Getty Images) | Getty

BOSTON -- The Charles River may be famous for its filth, but it's clean enough now for its first public swim since the 1950s.

The Boston Globe reports ( dozens jumped into the river Saturday in swimsuits, not hazmat suits.

Over the past eight years, the river has hosted a mile-long race for elite swimmers. But Saturday's event was the first time in decades officials allowed a community swim.

The water quality meets standards for swimming most days, a big improvement since the EPA gave it a grade of D in 1995. But the bottom remains polluted, so the swimmers had to avoid it.

Some swimmers described the water as orange or resembling beef broth. Charles River Conservancy head Renata von Tscharner said she preferred to describe it as resembling tea.


Information from: The Boston Globe,

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