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Activist swims Bristol channel dressed as a mermaid for cleaner rivers

By Enrico Mariconti

Lindsey Cole is an environment activist and children’s author who recently swam the UK’s Bristol channel, from Penarth in Wales to Clevedon in England, dressed as a mermaid accompanied by a giant, inflatable poo.

Her feat was part of a campaign against the pollution of British waterways. “The health of the rivers in Britain has been in decline over the last decade or more,” she says, partly due to reduced funding for UK government environmental enforcement agencies. “There’s literally no boots on the ground to investigate or prosecute polluters.”

Cole is also working with Conham Bathing, a group of swimmers and local residents applying for bathing status for a segment of the river Avon, whose waters end up in the Bristol channel. If successful, it would force the UK’s Environment Agency to regularly test the river for the bacteria Escherichia coli and Enterococci, both of which can cause illness. However, testing regularly is no guarantee that waters aren’t too polluted to swim in.

The footage is part of a feature-length documentary Rave On for the Avon by Charlotte Sawyer, to be released this autumn.