At the Modern, we love the offbeat, rare individual focused on a single brilliant gesture. And when we get a chance to support these folks and their cause, we jump at it, especially when that cause also champions one of Boise’s, and Idaho’s, most treasured features: the Boise River.

So we were thrilled to host Christopher Swain as he prepared to embark on a singular journey that is part environmental defense act, part performance art, part awareness-raising campaign. In August and September, he’ll swim the entire length of the Boise River, from its source high in the Sawtooths at Spangle Lake (beginning with a brisk swim across Redfish Lake), to where it empties into the Snake River near Parma; about 150 miles all told. Along the way, he’ll encounter risks ranging from raw sewage to chemical runoff to inhospitable temperatures and rough courses.

He’ll also bring attention to the green ribbon of water that runs through our desert backyard and ties so many disparate communities and interests together. Like most of the waterways in the United States, the Boise River contends with the many issues that come with human use and habitation along its banks.

The swim is sponsored by Idaho Business for the Outdoors (IBO), who contacted Chris to help raise awareness of the condition of the river and the need to maintain it as a “fishable, swimmable, drinkable” resource for all its stakeholders. Chris will be conducting interviews along the river with farmers, fishers, miners, and recreationist, while IBO collects water quality data and sponsors student workshops and other community events. “This is a journey to unite community members, businesses, schools, and nonprofits as conservation collaborators” who value the economic, ecological and community health benefits of the Boise River, according to IBO.

Chris has the passionate intensity of a prophet, and speaks of rivers and their wellbeing in ardent, intimate terms. “I feel like, if the river is a sister I never knew I had, and when I discovered her, I found out how beautiful, how amazing and full of potential she was—and then I found out she had a terminal illness. I’d do anything, even to putting my life on the line, to try to make her better.”

This time, it happens to be our beautiful sister he’s talking about.

Chris began his swim on August 5th, and the Modern is proud to support him. You can follow the project on Chris’ Facebook page (Swim With Swain), @idahobusinessoutdoors and #swimwithswain on Instagram, download the app on the Apple Store and Google Play, or navigate to IBO’s website: