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Pearl River swim a Chinese baptism for expats

By  Xu Jingxi  (China Daily)

08:17, August 03, 2012

Two foreign participants, Jorge Sanchez (left) and Brian Timm-Brock, pose for shutterbugs at Thursday's crossing of the Pearl River in Guangzhou. (China Daily/Zou Zhongpin)

Two foreign faces stood out among the group of swimmers who had just crossed the Pearl River on a hot Thursday afternoon in Guangzhou, Guangdong province.

Jorge Sanchez and Brian Timm-Brock from the US Consulate General in Guangzhou were the only two foreigners among the 2,100 participants in the annual swim across the Pearl River this year.

The event, founded in 2006, aims to strengthen local people's awareness about protecting the river, demonstrate the government's determination in improving the pollution and showcase its achievements in this area.

"The water was clear enough for me. I swallowed some water during the swim. It tasted better than salty seawater," said Sanchez, the agricultural trade officer at the consulate.

Sanchez said he found the water quality of the Pearl River better than that of some rivers in Mexico and North China where he has swum. "There are not dirty things such as moss in the Pearl River but I could find it in Mexican rivers," said Sanchez.

"Abating water pollution requires efforts from cities in both upper and lower reaches and cooperation among different governmental departments," Sanchez said.

People from six cities in Guangdong province, Guangzhou, Foshan, Zhaoqing, Dongguan, Zhongshan and Qingyuan, took part in the event in Guangzhou on Thursday. The five cities share with Guangzhou the duty of keeping the tributaries of the Pearl River Delta clean.

Sanchez came to work in Guangzhou three years ago and his dream of participating in the swimming event finally came true this year.

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