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Paris Revives Seine Swimming in Time for 2024 Olympics

By Jake Beardslee · July 30, 2023

A massive $1.5 billion cleanup of the River Seine in Paris has made the water safe for swimming in time for 2024 Summer Olympics.  Dietmar Rabich / Wikimedia Commons / “Paris, Seine -- 2014 -- 1321” / CC BY-SA 4.0

For the first time in eons, Parisians will be able to swim in the River Seine, safely and securely, thanks to massive cleanup effort conducted in preparation for the 2024 Summer Olympics.

Swimming in the Seine has been banned since 1923 due to heavy pollution from industry and sewage. But a decades-long $1.5 billion revitalization program has dramatically improved the river’s water quality.

With the Olympics coming to Paris next summer, the city has made restoring the Seine a top priority.

“They see the athletes coming in the river and swimming without any health problem. They will be confident to go themselves in the river Seine, since that’s our massive point of legacy of the games,” said Paris Deputy Mayor Pierre Rabadan told BBC News.

The City of Lights intends to reclaim the iconic river as a place for safe swimming after a century of being closed to the public.

“It’s beautiful water, soft and hot. For us, it’s the best,” said one happy swimmer to BBC. The unidentified water enthusiast then took an unauthorized dip in the newly cleaned-up waterway that flows through the heart of Paris.

The revival of swimming in the center of Paris will be a major legacy of the 2024 Olympics. Generations of Parisians have come to know the Seine as a polluted no-go zone. The great river’s restoration has changed all of that as Parisians and tourists prepare to take the plunge.

Light Wave commentary

The return of swimming to the River Seine after years of neglect marks a major environmental victory for Paris. The massive $1.5 billion cleanup is a miracle of science and civic willpower. Its benefits to Parisians and the millions who visit the City of Lights each year will continue long after the 2024 Olympic games leave town.