Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler, along with hundreds of swimmers, synchronized swim groups and kayakers, dove into the Willamette River Wednesday.

Wheeler hopes the dive Wednesday evening helps change public perception about the river’s water quality.

More than 400 swimmers dove into the river Wednesday and swam across it with Wheeler. They entered into the water at the fire station dock near the Hawthorne Bridge.

Wheeler says the annual Mayoral Swim is one of the most fun events he gets to do–but it comes with a serious message.

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“The city spent a lot of money on the big pipe and other remediation efforts, the water quality is good,” Wheeler said. “We want people to see that this is a great place for activity and a great place to meet fellow Portlanders.”

This was the third year Wheeler's office participated in the swim.

The Oregon Health Authority says any chemical contamination in the Willamette is too low to be considered harmful. The government agency says the water is safe for everyone to use.

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