A 16 kilometer swim in the river

A 16-kilometre swim in the river


Avid for extreme nautical challenges, Quebecer Nicolas Knap made the first swim down the St. Lawrence River, from Cap-Rouge to the Port of Quebec; an exercise which aimed to stimulate public interest in swimming in ports and urban areas. 

The river is a playground of choice for the native Frenchman, who landed in La Belle Province eight years ago. He developed his swimming skills there, notably in preparation for the Boston Light Swim – the oldest open water race in the United States -, which he won earlier this week.

We can thus understand him wanting to sing the praises of his training ground, which has been embellished in recent years by the establishment of the brand new Oasis of the Port of Quebec. He insists that it is safe to venture there, even if the water is not transparent or turquoise.

“I have been swimming in the river for several years, on the Champlain Drive,” Knap said on the phone. The water is good, the accessibility to the river is super easy.

“There are a lot of prejudices about water quality. There are alluvial deposits, it's green, it's brown…it's normal, we're in a river! In the region of Quebec, the water quality is deemed to be very good, biologically. The proof: I've been swimming for five or six years and I've never gotten sick.”

Perfect conditions

He swam 16 kilometers on Saturday between the Cap-Rouge marina and the Old Capital. The 49-year-old completed the trip in 2h 4min and enjoyed near perfect conditions.

“Today was a relatively easy and pleasant task because we had all the conditions,” he explained. But you know, it can be done on the same date next year and it can be a lot harder. That's open water swimming.”

According to Knap, this practice is absolutely not appreciated at its fair value in Quebec. It is hard to understand why his adopted province turns its nose up at this sport.

“I want to make my discipline speak. We make a lot of effort and sacrifice to achieve what we do. It's a discipline that is noble, as such, because in nature, it's adventure.”

To do this, he does not rule out the possibility of doing the descent of the river an annual classic, or to transform the event into a competition.

“It can be for both high performance swimmers and beginner swimmers, he concluded. The course lends itself to several stages, several tests. It is in my objectives to see if we can develop something like that.”