Swimming Events Guide 2024
EXTRA,  FEATURES,  June 2024

Why I swim: Libby Page

Author Libby Page’s new book, The Lifeline, is inspired by the water and her love of swimming. She tells us more.

Tell us about your new book and why we’ll love it.

It is about two women, Kate and Phoebe. Kate has a brand new baby and feels like she should be living these blissful newborn days, but is struggling to adjust to the new phase of her life. Phoebe is a mental health nurse who is so busy looking after other people that she’s forgotten to look after herself and the two of them meet at a river swimming club. It’s really about friendship but also for both of them, finding their way back to themselves as well. It’s a sequel to The Lido, but can also be read as a stand-alone story.

The last time you were in Outdoor Swimmer it was when you launched The Lido, what have you been up to since then?

This is book six, so I have been busy. But I also moved from London to Somerset and now have a son, Robin, who will soon be three! How has it been juggling work and motherhood? The early bit when I was writing and looking after Robin fulltime before he went to nursery was a big juggle. But we’ve now shifted things so my husband works part-time and looks after Robin when he’s not a nursery so I can write and work full-time. It works better for us, but yes, it’s definitely a juggle.

The Lido was inspired by your time at Brockwell Lido, what inspired The Lifeline?

Farleigh and District Swimming Club is very much the inspiration. But the great thing about writing fiction is you can add things. I wanted to create a real community that wasn’t just swimming based, so, there’s also a little café on a barge and there’s people who go rowing in the fictional version. I like taking inspiration from the things I love but then embellishing it for the purposes of a book which is really about community and lots of different types of people coming together around the river.

Where are your favourite places to swim?

I loved the river at Farleigh Hungerford, but I also love Shepton Mallet Lido, which has just reopened for the season. It is a lovely little community pool and I love to go with my son. I also like Vobster Quay. I try to swim at least once a week, but it is hard to always find time between writing and home-life. Swimming comes and goes but it is one of my favourite things to do, it isn’t like anything else.

What advice do you have for aspiring authors?

It’s an obvious one but reading lots of books. Change the way you read, so reading in quite analytical way. If you really love a book, think about why you are loving it? What is the author doing now? How can I apply that to my own writing? Perseverance is also a big one. The reality of writing, especially if you want to write many books, is that it takes many revisions, cutting loads and then working on it again and again. That requires a lot of perseverance and then also, to get published, it requires a lot of pitching and rejections. You must become used to that. People often say that the writers that become published authors are the ones who don’t give up.

Do you have a favourite out of your six books?

The one that I’m writing now is always the one I am most into. That’s the one you’re really excited about. That said, The Lido will always have a special place in my heart because it’s the first and I guess the way I wrote it was quite different. I was writing it without the excitement of the publishing contract, but also without the pressure, I was just doing it for fun and I didn’t have deadlines. I think that gave it a certain amount of freedom, which has never been the same again

What do you like to read?

A mix of things. I do quite like reading nonfiction. Especially nonfiction to do with the mind, wellbeing and psychology. I have just enjoyed The Art of Rest, which is all about the science behind why we all need more and better-quality rest. But largely it’s fiction I love, I read a lot of rom com. I love Emily Henry, I like a lot women’s fiction.

Can you tell us about a mistake you learned from?

With writing I feel like I am constantly making mistakes. Every first draft I write is just so messy. There are so many mistakes both in terms of actual mistakes – spelling/ grammar and errors in the story like inconsistency. But also sometimes not writing the story I wanted to write. With The Lifeline, I had to rewrite that pretty much from scratch about two or three times. In the first iteration one of the main characters had a completely different career and it just wasn’t working. It didn’t tell the story that I wanted to tell. Writing is just about constantly making mistakes, but I think you also get the opportunity to fix them.

What’s your advice to balance work, health and family?

I’m always reluctant to give advice because I don’t have it all figured out. The things that I’ve recently really tried to do is prioritising my wellbeing and that not being perfect. This morning, I got up to do yoga, but my son also woke up. I did the yoga anyway and it did mean that he was crawling underneath me and trying to climb on me but I did get a yoga session done, it wasn’t the perfect yoga session, but I did it. Trying to make time for myself a priority, even if it’s just a small. Also accepting that other things will slide. In the build-up to a big book deadline the house is a complete tip. But I’d rather do a yoga session than unload the dishwasher, and being okay with that!

Libby Page’s new book, The Lifeline, is out now.

Stay up to date with The Dip, our free weekly outdoor swimming newsletter.

Outdoor Swimmer is the magazine for outdoor swimmers by outdoor swimmers. We write about fabulous wild swimming locations, amazing swim challenges, swim training advice and swimming gear reviews.