• Karen

Waterlog: A Swimmer’s Journey through Britain

Author: Roger Deakin

When the late Roger Deakin decided to swim through the British Isles at the end of the 1990s, there was no inkling of the resurgence in interest in wild swimming that would follow a decade or two later. He may have been ahead of his time but he shared the same conviction about the therapeutic benefits of being “in nature”, as he put it, as many of today’s growing number of outdoor swimmers. Deakin’s account of his adventures, Waterlog, has become a bible to many and has inspired some to seek out the locations he describes in the book. Dorset features (of course!) as the place where Deakin first tried out his idea of “an amphibious ramble” in “some of the best sea-bathing in the whole of England”. We’re not going to argue with that.

As enthusiastic, if not accomplished, swimmers, we can’t pretend that we share anything of Deakin’s fearlessness – some of his swims require more bravery than we will ever be able to muster – but we can testify to his conviction that wild swimming has a significant impact on our mental health. “Natural water has always held the magical power to cure. Somehow or other, it transmits its own self-regenerating powers to the swimmer. I can dive in with a long face and what feels like a terminal case of depression, and come out a whistling idiot.”

Waterlog is considered by some to be one of the most influential pieces of nature writing since it was published in 1999; even if you count yourself as no more than an occasional seaside paddler, it's hard not to be inspired by Deakin’s joie de vivre and his assertion of the swimmer’s right to roam. Recommended.

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