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Rain and pollution wash out open-water training session on River Seine

A training session on the Seine river scheduled for Friday – ahead of an international open-water swimming event due to be held at the weekend – has been cancelled due to river pollution caused by torrential rain.

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“Following recent heavy rainfall in Paris, the quality of the water in the Seine is currently below acceptable standards for the protection of swimmers’ health,” said a statement from the French Swimming Federation.

It added that the decision to cancel the Friday training session was taken in consultation with the International Federation of World Aquatics and other public health partners.

At this stage, however, only the training has been cancelled. But the hosting of the Open-Water Swimming World Cup – the women’s event on Saturday and the men’s on Sunday – has been thrown into question and will depend on the latest water analyses 24 hours before each event and the weather forecast. 

The Seine swimming event is being held as a test not only for the swimmers but also for the organisers of the 2024 Paris Olympics, as the circuit on the river will be identical to the one to be used next summer with a 10-km loop between the Alexandre III bridge and the Pont de l’Alma.

For the past week, the Paris and the Ile-de-France region have been experiencing daily rainfall of varying degrees of intensity that quickly degrade the quality of the water in the Seine by washing wastewater back into it.

The results of water analyses are looking in particular for the presence of the notorious E-coli bacteria and enterococci.

Temporary deterioration

According to the Ile-de-France prefecture, it has rained in Paris four times more than the average for the last 20 years.

The organisers of the 2024 Paris Olympics have set plans in place to be able to postpone open-water swimming events by two or three days, in case of storms and heavy rain. 

“With one year to go before the Games, the sanitation dynamic is continuing, with the most significant water quality improvement works due to be completed in the coming months, in particular to cope with these exceptional meteorological events,” said a joint statement from the Olympics Organising Committee, Paris City Hall and the Ile-de-France region.

“Other facilities are currently under construction and will be operational in 2024,” they added.  

A triathalon event is also scheduled to take place between 17 and 20 August, the swimming part of which is to be held in the Seine.  

The competitions on the Seine are a prelude to future bathing facilities promised for 2025 by Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo on three sites where swimming has been banned since 1923. 

https://www.rfi.fr/en/france/20230804-heavy-rain-and-pollution-washes-out-open-water-training-session-on-the-seine Rain and pollution wash out open-water training session on River Seine

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