Distributor:  Bullfrog Films
Length:  56 minutes
Date:  2006
Genre:  Expository
Language:  English
Grade level: 6 - 12, College, Adult
Color/BW:  Color
Closed captioning available
Interactive transcript available
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Swim for the River

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The story of the Hudson, and the battle to save it, are told as Chris Swain swims the entire length of the river.

Swim for the River

Christopher Swain braved whitewater, sewage, snapping turtles, hydroelectric dams, homeland security patrols, factory outfalls, and PCB contamination to become the first person to swim the entire length of the Hudson River from the Adirondack Mountains to New York City.

Swain's experience links together stories of the river, which begins in wilderness and ends in one of the nation's densest population centers. We meet heroes who are fighting to protect the Hudson against a range of threats from industry, inept regulatory agencies, and public indifference. We also see how ordinary citizens can and do make a difference through choices they make effecting the environment, and by joining together around a common cause.

'Very well done and inspirational video...should be on the shelves of classrooms and libraries throughout the country...I recommend this DVD to all and especially those who are interested in water quality and environmental issues.' -AAAS Science Books and Films

'A must-watch for anyone concerned not only about the quality of our water but overall environmental health. It inspires people to take action steps - large and small - knowing that even the smallest steps to reduce our footprint make a big difference.'
-Wanda Urbanska and Frank Levering, authors of Simple Living

'The film offers a fresh - but stark - look at the health of the Hudson River. The love and compassion the swimmer and photographer have for the river and those who live along its banks is evident. It is a film of honest caring and a desire for positive change. It is all about the river ... and hope ... and will play an important role in moving communities along the Hudson into action to protect and preserve this wonderful resource.' John E. Wear, PhD, Founding Director, Catawba College Center for the Environment

'For anyone who cares about our natural treasures, who gets angry when they're used as toxic waste dumps, and who wants to celebrate the surprising progress activists have made in rescuing a great American waterway from its abusers, Swim for the River is a gem. Its narrative line is refreshingly original, and the end will bring a lump to your throat. Don't mss it.' Adam Hochschild, author of King Leopold's Ghost and Bury the Chains

'Weidlinger's riveting film recounts Swain's swim...and the stories of the communities that have mobilized to reclaim the river from its polluters.' Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.

'[A] powerful program which should inspire viewers to jump on the environmental bandwagon.' Booklist

'While I was expecting to be informed of the environmental problems...I was not expecting to be captivated on so many levels. The film was beautifully done. From the breathtaking scenery to the music, it all came together in a very aesthetic way.' Donna Ross, Public Programs, New York State Museum

'During the film I laughed, I cried, I burned with rage, and I thought deeply. In the end I pledged to do more than I have done - to help the river become what it once was - a majestic clean ecosystem- by minimizing my family's impact on the river and using the river as a classroom.' Professor Michelle A. Rodden, Environmental Studies, SUNY at Ulster Community College

'A tremendously helpful teaching tool, inspiring support for conservation. I have strongly recommended the film to my students.' Dr. James A. Danoff-Burg, Center for Environmental Research and Conservation, Columbia University

'Swain meets with a variety of people working to save the Hudson, including concerned citizens, environmental educators, students, and songwriter/musician Pete Seeger. The filmmaker effectively uses the travels of one man to connect the various stories of ordinary, everyday heroes with whom he meets...The specialized nature of this film makes it most valuable for schools within the Hudson River watershed. It could also be used effectively to demonstrate how the actions of ordinary citizens can, and do, make a difference.' School Library Journal

'Very powerful and effective for viewers of all ages. Children will take away different information than adults, but all will be left with a mandate to save the river.'
Margaret Moulton, Manager of Public Programs, The Hudson River Museum

'Gasps of surprise and occasional laughter could be heard throughout the film showing. We found the film to be both educational and entertaining.' Lorraine Machlin and Jane Berkowicz, Co-chairs, Rockland Friends of Clearwater

'Inspiring...makes us remember that although we have come so far in remediating past environmental damages, and taking measures and enacting legislations to protect the river from pollution, serious problems do still exist.' Connie Mayer-Bakall, Constitution Marsh Audubon Center and Sanctuary

'Thought-provoking, disturbing, moving, and encouraging all at the same time.' Julie Truax, Natural Resources Defense Council, New York

'Swim for the River is a hopeful film that avoids preaching to the choir and appeals to a wide audience.' Poughkeepsie Journal

'Swim for the River does more than recount Swain's filthy journey...It also tells the story of a long-polluted waterway and advocate's efforts to clean it.' Times Herald-Record

'This film gives people not only a 'fish eye' view of the Hudson, but a sense of hope for protecting other rivers and watersheds throughout the country. Weidlinger has captured the concerns of many concerned citizens. 'Swim' is a motivating, community call for action.' E. Ashley Boling, Executive Director, Telluride Institute, Colorado

'Highly Recommended for its presentation and enlightenment of a topic that seems often mentioned, but little discussed...The commentary will be significant to any community or region with a concern for the pollution of its rivers.' Jeremy Linden, State University of New York College at Fredonia, Educational Media Reviews Online

'Recommended for public library collections on environmental media.' Library Journal


ALA Booklist's 10 Best Environmental Videos of 2006-7
Honorable Mention, Columbus International Film and Video Festival
Mill Valley Film Festival
Hazel Wolf Environmental Film Festival
Chaos Enviro Film Selection, Boulder Adventure Film Festival
Princeton Environmental Film Festival


Main credits

Weidlinger, Tom (film director)
Weidlinger, Tom (film producer)
Weidlinger, Tom (editor of moving image work)
Weidlinger, Tom (narrator)
Swain, Christopher (narrator)

Other credits

Original music, Ed Bogas; executive producers, Michael Sherman, Rose Shirinian.

Distributor credits

Tom Weidlinger

Tom Weidlinger
Original Music Composed by Ed Bogas
A Moira Productions Film in association with Dateline Productions
Funded by the Lillian Lincoln Foundation

Docuseek2 subjects

American Studies
Environmental Health
Habitat Destruction
Marine Biology
Urban Studies
American (U.S.) Studies

Distributor subjects

American Studies
Business Practices
Earth Science
Environmental Ethics
Marine Biology
Nuclear Energy
Science, Technology, Society
Toxic Chemicals


Hudson River, Christopher Swain, sewage, hydroelectric dams, homeland security, outfalls, PCBs, Adirondacks, New York City, regulatory agencies, rivers, water pollution; "Swim for the River"; Bullfrog Films

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