A Long Island woman who was seen jumping into the water near the Statue of Liberty in her TikTok video says she didn't think about whether the water was full of bacteria, but she also said she doesn't regret it and wouldn’t do it again.
The video of Donna Paysepar diving headfirst into the Upper New York Bay last week certainly got the attention she wanted it to receive, with more than 3 million views on TikTok and millions more on Twitter. Most people thought Paysepar would get sick from being in the water that is often associated with sewage matter and general nastiness from decades of pollution.
But Paysepar says she's doing OK days after she took the plunge in front of Lady Liberty. The 20-year-old student and food blogger tells NJ.com that she was out on a friend's boat on Aug. 12 and just wanted a cool video that will get likes.
"I was really excited that I finally came to the Statue of Liberty. I had never been up that close and I'm just like you know what, YOLO," she said in a follow-up TikTok video. "I wasn't thinking about the water, I just wanted to take a cool TikTok jumping in the water."
After receiving comments about how "that water used to be on fire from pollution thirty years ago," Paysepar said she consulted the Department of Environmental Conservation's website which said that it's "generally" for people to swim in the Hudson River.
There are parts of the river that are less safe to splash around in such as near stormwater pipes where toxins, oils, bacteria and garbage runoffs overflow into the river after it rained, according to NYC's clean water advocate group Riverkeeper.
Riverkeeper has not only been advocating for cleaner water in the Hudson for decades, but it also periodically tests the water quality along the river.
The test measures salinity, oxygen, temperature, suspended sediment, chlorophyll, and Enterococcus (Entero), a fecal indicator bacteria in the water. You can check the organization's map of where the water samples are collected to see if the quality is "acceptable."
Triathalon competitors were supposed to do a 0.93-mile swim in the Hudson River last month but the event was canceled due to coronavirus concerns. Though you don't have to be an athlete or be looking for TikTok likes to take a dive into the Hudson, you should still follow the New York State Department of Health's advice if you want to safely do so.
The most important thing about swimming in the river is to avoid going near dredging operations and areas with vessels and boat traffic, the health department says.
When you're in the river, the health department advised to not do what Paysepar did and submerge your head in the water.
"It tasted really bad, I got some of it in my mouth," Paysepar said in another video.
Keeping your head out of the water reduces exposure to bacteria, parasites, blue-green algae and other microorganisms that might make people sick, the health department said. You should also avoid swimming in cloudy or discolored water because it may contain more microorganisms and affect your ability to see hazards.
After you get out of the water, you should wash off river water and dirt.
Despite environmental and health officials saying it's mostly safe to swim in the Hudson, Paysepar says she probably wouldn't jump in the water again because the water was "gross."