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Digital Subscriptions > Outdoor Swimmer > June 19 > AWet, Winding History

AWet, Winding History

The River Thames has long lured swimmers to her banks. By Elaine K Howley
Canaletto’s depiction of Westminster Bridge in 1747


For millennia, people have built settlements along the sinuous curves of the River Thames, which runs across the chalky landscape of southern England from Gloucestershire eastward past Oxford (where it’s called the River Isis) through the Chiltern Hills and on to London. After a 215-mile journey across the country, it drains into the North Sea.

Known to the ancient Romans as the Tamesis, it’s believed the name may mean dark, referring perhaps to the water’s murky colour. Spelled Tamisiam on the Magna Carta, some Victorianera cartographers posited that the river was more accurately called the Isis from its source to Dorchester-on-Thames where it connects with the Thame (a tributary) and becomes the Thame-Isis, which contracts neatly to the word we know today: Thames. No matter what you call it, this vital river cuts through so many aspects of British history, not least of which is its rich record of longdistance swimming.

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About Outdoor Swimmer

In the June issue of Outdoor Swimmer: wild swimming with a Bronze Age boat, #2minutebeachclean founder Martin Dorey, the history of swimming the Thames and new book the Lido Guide. Plus, we have advice from guest coach Keri-anne Payne, Olympic silver medallist and double 10k open water world champion, on correct body position. And our regular Olympian contributor, Cassie Patten, gives you some top tips on how to mix up your training to get faster in the water this summer. We also have outdoor training session ideas to help you swim straighter and advice to help you overcome race day worries. And if you fancy trying something a little different this summer, we have training ideas for swimrun races. And as always we have the most comprehensive UK and international event listings to help you plan your summer swims