Scientist to swim Tennessee River

Dr. Andreas Fath, a world-record-holding endurance swimmer and scientist, will kick-off a swim of the entire Tennessee River from the river dock at Ijams Nature Center’s River Landing Thursday, July 27, 2017, at 10 a.m.

This isn’t the first time the professor of Medical and Life Sciences at Furtwangen University in Germany has taken on a river. In 2014 he broke the world record for speed swimming the Rhine River from the Swiss Alps to the North Sea.

Dubbed TenneSwim, Fath’s second “swim for science” will see him swim the entire waterway from late July through August 2017. He will conduct daily analyses along his route to determine how water quality in the Tennessee River compares to the Rhine. Other testing will be done after the swim. Specifically, Fath will be looking at chemicals, pharmaceuticals and microplastics.

Data collected will increase knowledge about the quality and health of the Tennessee River, as well as raise public awareness of water quality in the Tennessee River basin. This project will be the most extensive interdisciplinary water quality survey ever conducted of North America’s most biologically diverse river.

At 652 miles, the Tennessee River is 112 miles shorter than the Rhine, but its significantly slower current will pose an even greater challenge for Fath. If completed as planned, his swim will break another world record.

U.S. partner organizations include the University of the South, the Tennessee Aquarium, The Nature Conservancy, the University of Georgia River Basin Center, Ijams Nature Center, the River Discovery Center of Paducah, Tennessee State Parks, and the Tennessee Valley Authority.