2017 TenneSwim Findings Announced Oct. 10 at Chattanooga’s Tennessee Aquarium

October 8th, 2018

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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, took on the Tennessee River at its headwaters less than a mile from Ijams Nature Center on July 27, 2017.

Dubbed TenneSwim, Fath’s second “swim for science” was finished just 34 days later. He again broke a world record, but more importantly, Fath conducted analyses along his route to determine the water quality of the Tennessee River in a project that was the most extensive interdisciplinary water quality survey ever conducted of North America’s most biologically diverse river.

He and his team took on the task to raise awareness about the importance of water quality and engage the general public to become actively involved in helping improve the health of southeastern rivers and streams.

On Wednesday, Oct. 10, at 11 a.m. ET, Fath will present the results of his findings at the Tennessee Aquarium Conservation Institute in Chattanooga. Joining him will be Dr. Anna George, vice president of Conservation Science and Education at the Tennessee Aquarium, and Dr. Martin Knoll, professor of Geology and Hydrology at Sewanee: The University of The South.

At 652 miles, the Tennessee River is 112 miles shorter than the Rhine, but its significantly slower current posed an even greater challenge for Fath. He had to cross nine reservoirs while swimming the Tennessee River, compared to just one lake – Lake Constance – during the Rhine project.

The water samples Fath and his team collected each day have been thoroughly analyzed (and in some cases re-analyzed) for several hundred substances at Furtwangen University and by other project partners. The researchers used methods and equipment that proved effective in analyzing the samples collected during Fath’s Rhine swim.

While swimming the Tennessee River, Fath also wore an artificial membrane on his leg. This device, which Fath likens to a fish skin, collected any organic pollutants he came into contact with.

During his presentation, Fath will reveal the TenneSwim results and provide commentary about potential sources of pollutants the research team identified. He will also compare the health of the Tennessee River to the Rhine River and at least one other major river.

TenneSwim U.S. partner organizations include the Sewanee: 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.

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Thom Benson, Director of External Affairs, Tennessee Aquarium
423-785-3007 / tlb@tnaqua.org
Tennessee Aquarium Conservation Institute
175 Baylor School Rd.
Chattanooga, TN 37405




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