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I once had the opportunity to interview Olympic, World, European and Commonwealth 100m sprint champion Linford Christie. He had recently learnt to swim and had discovered open water. I asked him what he thought about when he was swimming and to my surprise, he went on to tell me various stories from his head, including the lady of the lake grabbing his ankles and what if a plane overhead crashed into the water that he was swimming in. It was such a comfort that this mentally and physically strong athlete could be plagued by the same silly thoughts about what lurks beneath.
It is a common issue and one that is often most difficult when you first start your outdoor swimming journey. As a coach, I am always asked about how to beat thoughts and fears of what swims with us. This month’s issue dives under the water and we discover a brilliant world of wonder, magic, awe, creativity, creatures, challenge and the strange!
Were you captivated by our beautiful cover image? Read all about Lexi Laine, a freediving photographer (below) before taking a breath to dive back under and learn more about freediving with Anna Hattersley. Amber Fillary tells her story and what drives her ambition to swim under ice. Meanwhile Jonathan Cowie looks at the bottom of Windermere in the Lake District; discover if he finds trash or treasure, below. Sticking with the theme of treasure, Elaine K Howley explores the history of diving for pearls. As well as all this and the usual training and information to improve your life through swimming, we have a free events supplement to inspire you to set swimming goals in 2023. Take a deep breath and dive into the issue!
Ella Foote, Editor
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- Wild swims in GreeceSam Firman and Nick Hooton, authors of Wild Guide Greece, share a selection of their favourite Greek swims.
- Water wildlife: ground nesting birdsWhile you’re no doubt wary of disturbing nesting swans while swimming outdoors, it’s always worth considering your impact on ground nesting birds too, says Susanne Masters.
- Water wildlife: Great diving beetleSusanne Masters introduces us to the Great diving beetle (Dytiscus marginalis), remarkable predators inhabiting slow-moving waterways, which carry a bubble of air under their wings to breathe from underwater.
- Under my skin, under the waterLeilia Dore explains how cold water swimming has helped her and her body communicate with each other again after years of disconnect – with kindness, pride and curiosity.
- Tips for swimming underwaterRelax and take it slow: Simon Griffiths shares some tips for underwater swimming.
- This must be underwater lovePhotographer Lexi Laine invites us to dive into her underwater world. Words by Rowan Clarke.
- The underwater world we seeFrom jellyfish to a gravestone(!), adaptive swimmer Sophie Etheridge shares some of the strange things she’s encountered in the water.
- Sarah Thomas: swimming the Molokai ChannelMarathon swimmer Sarah Thomas shares the lessons she learned swimming the Molokai Channel.
- Review: Swimming techFrom water cameras to swimming headphones, we review the best gadgets to enhance your outdoor swimming adventures.
- Pool skills: underwater dolphin kickImprove your swimming with an underwater dolphin kick, says Simon Griffiths.
- Move of the month: Donkey KicksVivienne Rickman is your guide to a move that strengthens lower back muscles and promotes good posture – an ideal exercise for those with desk jobs.
- Marine meditation: is freediving a natural extension of outdoor swimming?Is freediving the preserve of the super-human or a natural extension of outdoor swimming and a gateway to a new world of adventure? Anna Hattersley spoke to freediving coach Emma Farrell and four of her former students to find out.
- Ice magic: freediving under iceAddictive, ridiculously dangerous and pure magic: Amber Fillary on her love affair with freediving under the ice.
- How to overcome your fear of open waterJonathan Cowie muses on the perils of outdoor swimming, and how to overcome a sudden feeling of panic in the water.
- How do I transition from a swimsuit to a wetsuit?Reader Jenny Knights is new to outdoor swimming and has her first open water next month. Swimming coach Cassie Patten shares her tips for swimming in a wetsuit and how to occupy your mind during a long swim,
- Healing waters: a new wave of social prescribingLast summer, a pioneering social prescribing project in South Wales saw a group of young people, diagnosed with a first episode of psychosis, experience the therapeutic benefits of outdoor swimming
- Front crawl tips: don’t get caught out by the catchThere is a lot to work on before you start thinking about the underwater phase of front crawl, says Jonathan Cowie.
- Footwear for outdoor swimmingIt’s a good idea to give our feet some protection when outdoor swimming. Here we share some footwear options.
- Event review: Scottish Winter Swimming ChampionshipsRowan Clarke heads to Loch Tay for her favourite winter event: the Scottish Winter Swimming Championships
- Diving for treasure: a history of pearl divingPearl diving is dangerous work that’s often been delegated to the marginalised and dispossessed. Elaine K Howley explores the history of pearl diving.
- Diving for trash and treasure in the Lake DistrictFreediver Angus Hosking is on a mission to clean up litter from the lakes of the Lake District.
- All but one application for river bathing water status rejectedThe Government has rejected all but one application for bathing water status for English rivers, angering campaigners. River Deben at Waldringfield in Suffolk goes through to open consultation.
- A short daily yoga and breathing practiceThese restorative yoga poses allow you to explore your breath from different angles, says Liz Lowe.