Guangzhou mayor Chen Jianhua put his health on the line and led a mass swim in the Pearl River on Friday to prove that the infamously polluted river is becoming less toxic under his strong leadership.
Mayor Chen donned a red swimming cap and dove in to lead the “swimmathon.” Seeing that their brave leader did not immediately grow any new limbs and in fact seemed to be having a good time in the seemingly clean water, some 2,000 swimmers plunged into the river and frolicked alongside him.
The swimmathon is an annual event that was abandoned in the 1970s due to the dismal state of the water, but then resurrected in 2006. The swimming route is from Zhongshan University to the Xinghai Concert Hall.
Reports state that as many as 3,700 people used to participate in the swimming event. In 2012, the number of swimmers dropped to just 1,849 and since that number has stayed at around 2,000—which is still a whole lot more than the number of white dolphins left in the delta.
Swimmers from neighboring cities, including Foshan, Zhaoqing,Dongguan,Zhongshan and Qingyuan have attended the event for years.
When asked if the river’s quality of water was improving, Mayor Chen—who definitely hadn’t prepared for that question in advance—smiled and said: “Yes, it is getting better and better. If you don’t believe me, you can jump in and find out for yourself.”
Think we’ll pass.
By Lucy Liu
[Images via NetEase]