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Recently I have been enjoying swimmers posting pictures of not just their dips, but also the flower and fauna around them. As outdoor enthusiasts, we often take note of gentle changes in our environment or around the changing seasons. A common thread this year though is how many swimmers have captioned pictures of snowdrops, daffodils and budding trees with the word: hope. Maybe we are all seeking it a bit more, but the comfort of spring is something I look forward to. It even smells better outdoors at this time of year!
This month’s magazine has taken a different shape as with the arrival of spring in the northern hemisphere comes the arrival of autumn and cooler months in the south. Ever wondered what it is like to live on the other side of the world? In this issue we celebrate the arrival of spring in the first part of the magazine, then look at a global view of swimming mid-way before asking you all to tilt and turn your magazine to go south. We have a double cover too, to make it extra fun or confusing! Our southern hemisphere cover is of swimmers off the coast of Chile taken by the talented Ana Sotelo and our northern hemisphere cover features the brilliant Tom Boswell in Wales.
Wherever you are swimming and whoever you like to swim with, I hope this issue captivates your international curiosity and maybe even teaches you something about swimming across the world.
Ella Foote, Editor
- Women of the waterWomen of the Water, by photographer Ana Elisa Sotelo Van Oordt, is a series of landscapes and nude installations exploring the connection between women and nature.
- While you’re at the water: fossil huntingBeaches, riverbanks and riverbeds can all reveal fossils, which have been buried for millennia. Susanne Masters has your guide to post-swim fossil hunting.
- Understanding pool training sessionsBeing able to decipher the most commonly used terms and abbreviations in a pool session will take your training to the next level, says Jonathan Cowie.
- The Green Hill: Letters to a SonIn 2017, Sophie Pierce’s life changed forever when her 20-year-old son Felix died suddenly and unexpectedly. Thrown into a new world of loss, she had to find a way to keep on living. In her book, The Green Hill: Letters to a Son, Sophie writes a series of letters to Felix – composed during walks and swims taken close to his grave on the Green Hill in Devon – while learning to live in the landscape of sudden loss, navigating the weather and tides of grief. Here Sophie shares an extract from her book…
- The colour of cold: swimming in Cape Town, South AfricaWith water temperatures averaging 13 degrees Celsius and air temperatures seldom above 32 degrees, Cape Town, South Africa, is a playground for open water swimmers. Capetonian and marathon swimmer Sam Whelpton shares her experience of swimming off the southern tip of Africa with her partner, extreme swimmer Ram Barkai.
- Swimming the cenotes of the Yucatan PeninsulaWriter and swimmer Becky Horsbrugh thought Mexico would offer white sands and turquoise seas, but instead she found joy in caves and sinkholes. She shares why exploring Mexico’s cenotes is a great adventure for outdoor swimmers.
- Swimmers converge on Lake Bled for the IWSA World ChampionshipsA winter swimming event held in Slovenia’s picture-perfect Lake Bled: Simon Griffiths reports from the 13th IWSA World Championships.
- Spring forward, fall back, swim all yearElla Foote chats to Welsh swimmer Tom Boswell about his ambition to swim 365 days consecutively to raise money for testicular cancer charity, the Odd Ball Foundation.
- Spring equinox: a swim to the music of timeAs we approach the spring (or autumn) equinox, swimmers across the world celebrate the beginning of the seasons with their own rituals: sunset or sunrise swims, moonlit dips, gathering on shores to mark the passing of time. Jonathan Cowie reflects on how swimming is perhaps the sport most closely linked to the turning of the earth.
- Songs of the Sea: travelling with grey whalesDoreen Cunningham tells Rowan Clarke how her experience charting grey whales’ migratory journeys became the foundation for a compelling tale about climate, community and humanity.
- Sarah Thomas: Marathon SwimmerMarathon swimmer Sarah Thomas reflects on the enormous highs and sinking lows of the past few years.
- Review: Water shoesLightweight, insulated or easy to slip on pre- or post-swim: Omie Dale has your guide to water shoes for swimmers.
- Myth busting: Can a pike bite my toes?If you have swum in freshwater, you have swum with pike. They lurk – often unseen – in rivers, ponds, reservoirs, lakes and gravel pits. But would one even take a nibble at a passing swimmer? Susanne Masters is your guide to these impressive apex predators.
- Myth busting: “Everything in the southern hemisphere water wants to eat me!”Great whites, blue-ringed octopus and reef-dwelling cone snails: marine biologist, writer and broadcaster Dr Helen Scales introduces us some of the most deadly creatures in the southern hemisphere – and explains why they’re not all out to get you!
- Move of the month: woodchopHaving strong core muscles is important in all our swimming strokes as it is in many functional movements in our everyday activities. The woodchop is a great move for challenging the stability of the muscles that surround the trunk of our body as well as the hip and shoulders, says Vivienne Rickman.
- Meet illustrator, designer and cold water swimmer Evie GraceEvie Grace studied illustration, graphic design and photography at university in Aberdeen before moving to Vancouver for a couple of years, where she worked as a waitress and spent her free time hiking and swimming. She moved back to Scotland a couple of months before the pandemic and then started a freelance illustration and design business. She now lives in Bristol.
- Making time: a history of timekeepingFrom stopwatches and Channel hardy pocket watches to the Swim-o-Matic, a semi-automatic timer accurate to one-thousandth of a second: Elaine K Howley delves into the history of timekeeping in swimming, horse racing and sport.
- Lido guide: spring arrivalAs spring heralds the opening of seasonal lidos, author of The Lido Guide, Emma Pusill, examines the challenges facing small, volunteer-run pools and the current campaigns to restore old pools and even build new lidos.
- Is endless summer swimming a dream come true?Do you embrace the cold and celebrate the changing seasons, or would endless summer swimming be a dream come true? Simon Griffiths meets a swimming coach who lived in a perpetual summer for eight years.
- How to build a walking meditation into your outdoor swimA short walking meditation is a way of extending and deepening the experience of outdoor swimming, and it will warm you up too. Your walking meditation doesn’t need to be a long walk, even a few minutes will give your mind some downtime says Liz Lowe
- Foraging for swimmers: watercressOffering a gentle rendition of wasabi’s heat, watercress (Nasturtium officinale) is one of the oldest known leaf vegetables consumed by humans. Susanna Masters has your guide to this wild-growing superfood.
- Films, podcasts and books for swimmersAn investigation into water’s true nature, water-based adventure films and an exhilarating journey into deep time: what to read, watch and listen to this month.
- Event review: Ice Swim in MoroccoMonkeys, dancing and medals make for a memorable ice swimming adventure. Jonathan Cowie and Ella Foote take part in this year’s Ice Swim in Morocco.
- Environmental issue: wet wipesImagine swimming past a man-made reef of wet wipes! Misleadingly labelled as ‘flushable’, wet wipes are well known for causing problems in our toilets and sewers but are also a menace further downstream, says Susanne Masters.
- Changing seasons, changing climate, changing strokes: the long history of swimmingHave you ever wondered about the origins of swimming? How about how we came to swim outdoors in the cooler northern hemisphere compared to warmer water in the south? In her book, Shifting Currents: A World History of Swimming, Karen Eva Carr gives a comprehensive history of swimming and examines the tension that arose when non-swimming northerners met African and Southeast Asian swimmers. When looking at trends in swimming, it is fascinating to learn about the global enthusiasm for the water – here she gives us an extract of her work.
- Brave New WatersAuthor and Wild Swimming Brother, Jack Hudson traded his freshwater dips in the UK for a salty life in Australia last year. He shares how he felt like a ‘fish out of water’ in the southern hemisphere while adapting to sea swimming culture.
- Adaptive Swimmer: Sophie Etheridge“Spring is the time of plans and projects” (Leo Tolstoy). Adaptive Swimmer: Sophie Etheridge on how to plan and train for summer swimming challenges.
- A pool training session for the solar equinoxSimon Griffiths shares a threshold pace pool training session designed to be used at any time of year, targeted at swimmers looking to race between 1 mile and 3km.
- A Highland fling at SwimWild’s WinterFestAuthor and wild swimmer Emma Simpson persuaded her husband to join her for a long weekend in the Scottish Highlands with SwimWild’s WinterFest. He may have expected a weekend of whisky and getting frisky but instead, less than 24 hours after leaving their home in the south of England, he’d been in zero-degree water twice, in just his swim shorts – with fairy lights on his head.