Rivers figure predominantly as barriers and as symbols of transformation. Heraclitus believed you could never step in the same river twice, arguing for a forward progression of time that has never been fully expelled from the human sub-consciousness. Children are drowned in slow, muddy rivers and are saved as adults. John was the first river crosser, the first to step into a stream and discover a alter the flow of water. "I baptize you in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit."
Rivers carry away the dead and offer a means to escape time. Drowning is a failed alchemical effort, a washing of the gross material of humanity that fails to produce the next reagent.
Laertes: Alas, then she is drown'd
Gertrude: Drown'd, drown'd.
Laertes: Too much water has thou, poor Opheila.