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The Story of Swimming by Susie Parr


Swimming off Brighton Beach in December is some sort of madness. Here in British Columbia, we have icy water (almost) all year round thanks the chilly flows coming down from Alaska, but there are still plenty of diehards who take a dip in freezing conditions.

The Story of Swimming by Susie Parr addresses these people who see water and are instantly reaching for their swimming costumes.

Parr writes at The Independent about swimming and swimmers.

Swimming at Tenby, despite the town’s exceptionally clean and inviting water, I am usually the only one in. I reflect on my collection of postcards from the early decades of the 20th century that show large groups of workmates, friends and neighbours bathing at Margate, at Westward Ho! and Cleethorpes, huddled together in their hired costumes, grinning back at the camera, having fun in the water. Nowadays, it is rare to see groups of swimmers such as these other than at organised events such as charity swims or triathlons, which tend to be serious and grimly competitive affairs. I seldom see families swimming together. More commonly, wet-suited children play in the shallows with a bare-footed adult keeping watch at the water’s edge, arms folded and trousers rolled above the knee.

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Richard Davies

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