Is it Illegal to Swim in the Piscataqua River?
Editor's note: This article was written by a Townsquare Media Northern New England contributor and may contain the individual's views, opinions or personal experiences.
I will be the first to admit I am not the strongest swimmer! I should have paid closer attention during swimming lessons at summer camp, because your girl has the doggie paddle down and that's about it!
Forgive me if you've heard me tell this story on air before. I had a pretty scary experience a few summers ago where my bad swimming skills were put to the test. Here's the tea:
I was out with some friends on a boat on the North Shore of Massachusetts. We anchored the boat and everyone was jumping off to take a dip in the water. It was a VERY hot day. I did the same, and before I knew it was swept away with the current. I floated way too far away from the boat to swim back (against the current), and I didn't have a life preserver on (stupid? VERY! I know better now).
My friend who was operating the boat started hastily pulling the anchor up to come retrieve me. I remember one of my friends yelling out "FLOAT ON YOUR BACK". This was a great tip so that I did not expel too much energy. All of a sudden, a family was riding by and asked me if I was okay. I said "Not really. I'm pretty much drowning." They were kind enough to throw me a life vest and let me come on their boat. They even gave me Gatorade and told me everything was going to be okay. I was so grateful and a little emotional.
A strong current is no joke!
Reminiscing about this scary tale got me curious. If a body of water has a notoriously strong current, is it illegal to swim there? Like the Piscataqua River for example:
The Piscataqua River flows 12.25 miles to the Gulf of Maine through the towns of Eliot and Kittery, ME, and Dover, Newington, Portsmouth, New Castle, and Rye, NH. It functions as the state border between these two states. The river gets its name from the Abenaki word meaning, "a river with a strong current", and it's quite a fitting name! The river is known throughout the maritime community for its aggressive current and challenging navigation route.
It is also the second fastest flowing river in the United States, with the #1 fastest being the Mississippi River.
As far as I can find, there is no state law that prohibits swimming in the Piscataqua. But even if you are a strong swimmer, it's not a safe practice. A former director of the Port of New Hampshire once said "It's like a deer running across an eight-lane highway".
The moral of the story? It's highly unrecommended.