Chris Harris is a passionate and driven individual who began swimming competitively at the age of five.
Originally from Ann Arbor, Michigan, Chris grew up swimming for Laura St. Claire and Liz Hill at the Huron Valley Swim Club and for Dave Johnson at the Ann Arbor Swim Club. Chris was an All-State swimmer at Ann Arbor Pioneer High School, where he swam for one of the most successful and iconic high school coaches in America, Coach Dennis Hill. Chris co-captained a State Championship team his senior year and swam at the Junior National level in high school. In the early 1990s, Chris moved to New York City to attend Columbia University where he swam for Columbia’s legendary coach, Jim Bolster.
Chris graduated from Columbia College with a B.A. and several years later also received an MBA from Columbia Business School. Chris is an Investment Banker and lives in New York City with his wife, Nicole, and two children.
The origin of this swim traces back to a speech Chris’ mother gave at her high school, The Emma Willard School. More recently, the swim was also inspired by the feelings of helplessness and despair many people have felt in the recent past as a result of seemingly un-ending global pressures: COVID-19, political instability, economic volatility, war, climate change. He decided to use his passion for swimming to take back agency in life and hopefully make a positive impact on the world. He is teaming up with Urban Swim to take on the challenge of swimming around Manhattan. As Chris trains tirelessly for the challenge, he remains committed to raising awareness for his charitable partners and making a meaningful difference in the lives of countless individuals.
This swim is a deeply personal tribute to Chris’ maternal grandparents and aunts and uncles who perished in Haiti in the 1960’s. Chris’ first cousins, Gérald Benoît and Philippe Maurice DuChatelier, who also died as infants. They will be in his thoughts during this swim as they are always.
Why + POOL
Swimming has given Chris so many opportunities in life. This swim is an opportunity for him to give back to the community and New York.
+ POOL is a non-profit organization committed to providing free and safe access to New York City's rivers for swimming. Its mission is to ensure that everyone, regardless of income or background can enjoy the water.
Why Have Faith Haiti
Chris’ mother, Guerda Harris (née Marie-José Guerda Edeline), was born and raised in Haiti and was orphaned as a teenager. Through sheer providence and the courage and charity of people around her, notably Monsieur l’Ambassadeur de France en Haiti et Madame Le Genissel and Mr and Mrs. Jacques Bailhé, she was given the tools to build a successful life and given safe passage and guardianship in the US.
Founded by Mitch Albom, Have Faith Haiti is a nonprofit organization providing safety, nourishment, education, and opportunity for Haiti’s impoverished children and orphans, and stability for staff and their families in Port-au-Prince.
While conditions in Haiti have sadly worsened in the decades since Chris’ mother left the country, the unending cycle of poverty, disease, and despair is not unique to Haiti. An estimated 153 million children worldwide are orphans (UNICEF). In the world’s poorest countries, 1 in 4 children are engaged in child labor (UNICEF).
Worldwide Orphans Foundation’s (WWO) mission is to educate, heal, and empower children, by embedding trauma-informed, play-based programs in vulnerable communities.
Today, WWO have operating teams in Bulgaria, Ethiopia, Haiti, Ukraine, Vietnam and the Bronx. WWO focuses on children and families who are experiencing poverty, housing instability, food insecurity, natural disasters, war, illness.