Swimming for Science

TVA and partners welcome a German scientist who will swim the entire 652-mile length of the Tennessee River, stopping for daily water-health checks along the way.

JULY 24, 2017—After breaking the world record for speed swimming the Rhine River from the Swiss Alps to the North Sea in 2014, Dr. Andreas Fath, professor of Medical and Life Sciences at Furtwangen University in Germany, is preparing for another challenge—this time, on the Tennessee River.

Fath swimming

Dr. Fath’s science-based “TenneSwim” will take about a month, throughout which he will swim the entire 652 miles of the main Tennessee River channel. Daily analyses will be conducted along the route to determine how water quality in the Tennessee River compares to the Rhine. Dr. Fath and his team will sample for common water quality indicators such as temperature, nitrates and phosphates, as well as for pharmaceuticals, hormones, pesticides, bacteria and heavy metals.

As a steward of the Tennessee Valley’s natural resources, TVA is a partner and participant in Dr. Fath’s sponsored journey through the Valley. Other partners 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 and Tennessee State Parks.

Starting July 27, people can follow Dr. Fath in real-time via GPS tracking at tenneswim.org.

TenneSwim begins at Ijams Nature Center in Knoxville on Thursday, July 27, at 10 a.m. and the public is invited to attend.

Dr. Fath’s journey will take him to Chattanooga on Thursday, Aug. 4, around 6:30 p.m. ET, where he will speak at the Tennessee Aquarium’s River Journey auditorium.

The TenneSwim will culminate at the River Discovery Center, in Paducah, Kentucky, at the confluence of the Ohio and Tennessee Rivers. At press time, it was expected that Dr. Fath will arrive in Paducah around Aug. 26.