September 2023 ‘Community’

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While I am a strong and confident swimmer today, this wasn’t always the case. Some of this is down to personal development and training, but largely it is thanks to the huge community of swimmers I have met, swam and learnt from over my lifetime. I am so grateful to every person who has ever held my hand, guided, supported, coached, demonstrated, inspired and helped me be the swimmer I am today. Much of what I now know, from how a body behaves in aerated water like a waterfall, to how best to perform swim strokes for my goals, it is thanks to people I have met in and around water.

I am not alone; I know for many swimmers the community of people they swim and meet with are the reason they get out of bed at silly o’clock or in the pouring rain and it is thanks to a team of people that epic marathon swims are achievable.

This month’s issue is dedicated to our swimming communities. Whether you are a salty sister, skinny dipper or elite trainer, the best thing about our big swimming community is the smaller groups that have developed over the years to welcome everyone.

Our lead feature is an extract from Anna Deacon and Vicky Allan’s new book, The Ripple Effect, which captures the community spirit brilliantly. Rowan Clarke explores male swimming groups, Sophie Etheridge tells us about the growth and importance of her community and we learn about the success of Mental Health Swims. As well as all this, we put changing robes to the test and travel to the Faroe Isles.

Enjoy the issue!

Ella Foote, Editor

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  • How to strengthen and protect your neck
    Swimming specialist physiotherapist Alex Ewart your guide to preventing a problem that afflicts many swimmers: neck pain.
  • The importance of a swimming community
    Simon Griffiths reflects on what makes swimming communities special, and how you can make them even better.
  • Lido guide: Stand up and be counted
    Despite the positive impact a local lido can have on its wider community, outdoor pools continue to struggle due to lack of funding. Emma Pusill, author of The Lido Guide, reports.
  • The Ripple Effect
    This month, authors Anna Deacon and Vicky Allan return with a new book, The Ripple Effect: A Celebration of Britain’s Brilliant Wild Swimming Communities, exploring how swimming communities have grown in recent years. Here they introduce an extract from the book
  • My life in sea creatures
    Sabrina Imbler’s book, My Life in Sea Creatures, was published last year. It is part memoir, part science, with Sabrina’s story woven into marine communities. Fellow author Doreen Cunningham speaks with Sabrina and reflects on a special read.
  • Communities that swim together, stay together
    Over the last ten years there has been a boom in black and brown swimming communities. The development has enabled people not only to learn to swim but to thrive in the sport. Abigail Black writes about the importance of her community, BADU, and how it has supported her ambitions in and out of the water.
  • What’s your swim tribe?
    It takes all sorts to make up our wonderful open water swimming community. Whether you are a dipper or a marathon swimmer, there’s nowt so queer as swimming folk, says Jonathan Cowie.
  • How to train with other people
    While your training buddy won’t necessarily be doing the same strokes as you, swimming with other people can be enjoyable and sociable and help you to achieve your goals. Simon Griffiths shares his tips for training with other people.
  • How to master bilateral breathing
    “I’ve been told I need to do bilateral breathing for open water swimming but I can’t! What should I do?”
  • How do I get my motivation back after an injury?
    Swimming coach Cassie Patten has advice for those who are returning to training after a break or are feeling too overwhelmed by an upcoming event to train.
  • Tricks of the mind: swimming in the Faroe Islands
    Ben Lane undertook a magnificent swim in the Faroe Islands. Here he shares the mental and physical challenges of exploring Faroe’s islands and skerries by water.
  • What is Mental Health Swims?
    The story behind the mental health peer support community, Mental Health Swims.
  • A community of adaptive and disabled open water swimmers
    When Sophie Etheridge started a Facebook group, she inadvertently created a community of swimmers with disabilities where every small win is celebrated.
  • What about men?
    In a woman’s world, Rowan Clarke finds out why it’s important to advocate for male outdoor swimmers.
  • Chasing my childhood dream
    Epilepsy took away Glyn Marston’s childhood dream of swimming the English Channel. Can he take it back?
  • Best changing robes 2023: tried and tested by outdoor swimming experts
    With autumn water temperatures approaching, now is a good time to invest in or update your changing robe. Our outdoor swimming experts have tested nine of the best changing robes for 2023 – so whether you’re after lightweight portability, serious waterproofing or recycled materials, we’ve got the robe for you. 
  • Trash, lice and tankers: a lap around Staten Island
    Daniel Shailer shares Leslie Hamilton’s story of her record-breaking swim around Staten Island, braving rusting hulks and sea lice.
  • Queer swim groups: We are family
    A new wave of queer swim groups are embracing the benefits of cold water and community.
  • Wayne Singleton’s Solway to Silverdale swim
    What do you do if you can’t get a slot to swim the English Channel? Rather than sit on a waiting list for a few years, Cumbrian open water swimmer Wayne Singleton decided to forge his own swimming challenge.
  • A wild swimming adventure in the Hebrides
    Ella Foote travels to the Isle of Mull for a summer swim adventure with Wild Hebridean Swimming.
  • Move of the month: Dead Bug
    This exercise is great for swimmers looking to improve their body position in the water, strengthening and stabilising your core and back
  • La’al Sauna – a horse box sauna roaming the Lake District
    We spoke to Debbie Noble about her converted horse box sauna that frequents Cumbrian swimming spots, and how saunas enhance the cold-water swimming experience.

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