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Christmas Presents

A WHALE SONG TO SWIMMERS

Ella Foote meets writer Tanya Shadrick, writer in residence at Pells Pool, where she is writing a mile of longhand on pool-length scrolls

Writer Tanya Shadrick makes no claims on being a strong or experienced swimmer, but she knows a swimmer when she sees one and can tell if their stroke will be a dance with the water or a fight against it. “You don’t need to be a trained swimmer to be able to identify what a good stroke is, even if it isn’t what the latest or conventional advice is,” says Tanya. “They have just got rhythm. You know it when you see it, their body. It isn’t about their weight, shape or size – you can just see a swimmer. When I see some people I just know they are going to be beautiful in the water.”

Tanya is the writer in residence at Pells Pool in Sussex, the UK’s oldest freshwater lido. She is writing a mile of longhand on pool-length scrolls of paper. The project, A Wild Patience: Laps of Longhand, will be completed this year beside Lake Geneva while she is in residence at the Jan Michalski Foundation for Writing and Literature. Tanya did laps of longhand throughout the pool’s 2016 season and will need to complete 35 laps over five scrolls. This will be the equivalent of a novel. She writes on her website: “As with swum laps of the pool, I may only become capable of this length, this endurance, through regular, daily practice, and by paying no mind to how I feel about this: the boredom, my discomfort. I will show up, simply, and let the practice teach me.”

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About Outdoor Swimmer

In this issue we are celebrating the joy of wild swimming. There is more to swimming outdoors than organised events and races; wild swimming gives you space to experience nature, adventure, freedom and creativity. Seas, rivers, lakes, ponds, streams and lochs... look at a map and any blue space is a possibility to swim. As contributor Sam Mould writes in ‘Wayfarer in the Wilderness’, her exploration of wild swimming and landscape: “I feel that I have become dislocated from the natural world, from the wild environment and the inexorable rawness of nature.” Wild swimming goes some way to redress that balance. We hope you enjoy the stories within these pages, whether you like dipping in tarns in the Lake District or swimming across lakes in Switzerland, and get some new ideas for your own wild swimming adventures around the country and the world. Enjoy the magazine and happy swimming. Jonathan Cowie Editor
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