Colorado man completes first-ever non-stop solo swim from Potash to confluence on Colorado River

A Colorado man recently swam a 47.5-mile stretch of the Colorado River, starting at the Potash Point boat ramp and ending at the confluence of the Green and Colorado Rivers in the heart of Canyonlands National Park.

Matthew Moseley, of Boulder, Colorado, said he made the swim on behalf of the conservation organization American Rivers, to raise awareness about the need for protection and restoration of the nation’s natural waterways and riparian habitats.

Moseley said he is the first person to swim that stretch of the river solo and without stopping. He entered the water at 6:41 a.m. on Wednesday, July 29 and emerged at the confluence just under 14 hours later, at 8:36 p.m. A support team in kayaks supplied him with sustenance and encouragement throughout the trip, but in keeping with “English Channel” open-water swim rules, he was not permitted to touch any other person, watercraft, or even solid ground during the marathon swim. He also did not use a wet suit or any flotation devices, and gel-like food and drink had to be extended to him via a feeding stick.

“The support team did a great job of scouting ahead and keeping me in the channel and away from rocks,” Moseley told The Times-Independent.

Moseley described the water in which he swam as “muddy, with a lot of silt,” but said that he found it “fantastic” to be swimming the Colorado. Moseley added said he was struck by how “small and fragile” the Colorado River seemed.

“It is such a small, yet powerful river. It has to be the hardest working river in the country,” he said.

Moseley posted an account of his accomplishment, accompanied by several photographs, in an online blog.

“The swim was done as a celebration for the hard work and remarkable accomplishments of American Rivers. I want to say thank you to everyone who helped make my dream a reality,” Moseley was quoted in the blog as saying immediately after the swim. “Being the first person to accomplish this swim is not only a milestone in my own life, but it is a humbling experience to know how many people supported me along the way.”

Moseley also said during a phone interview last week that the Gold King Mine contaminated water spill incident that occurred near Durango, Colorado, the week after he completed his swim also underscores the importance of river conservation and restoration, particularly in areas where mining and other such activities have taken place. He encouraged supporters to donate and support conservation efforts to protect rivers nationwide.

“The Colorado River is facing serious threats, and Moseley’s extraordinary personal and physical effort helps signal to users of the Colorado Basin that we are all in this together. While this swim is a major undertaking, we can all take steps in our own lives to keep the river healthy and flowing,” Matt Rice, Director of the Colorado Basin Program at American Rivers, said in a news release announcing that Moseley had completed the swim.

According to Moseley’s blog, the Colorado River swim was his third such undertaking over the past 13 months. Last summer, he swam across Lake Pontchartrain in New Orleans to raise funds for the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation. Then, in late May of 2015, Moseley made a 24-mile swim from the island of Culebra to Fajardo, Puerto Rico, in order to raise awareness for the Scuba Dogs Society and their work to clean up coral reefs.

ByBy Jeff Richards

Contributing Writer