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Passion for Wild Swimming Rekindled 20 06 16
The joy of outdoor or wild swimming (as it is now called) in rivers and lakes is a way of life celebrated across Europe and America. The hot days of summer see families and friends delight in the freedom, fun and adventure of the great outdoors. But things are quite different here in Britain.
Open water or wild swimming is often portrayed in the media as the preserve of an eccentric, foolhardy minority. No Swimming signs and warnings about drowning make wild swimming seem like some kind of extreme sport. Hung Out to Dry investigates why swimmers in Britain have been chased out of open water and confined instead to indoor swimming pools. Can wild swimming really be as dangerous as we are lead to believe?
Before the construction of swimming pools during the industrial revolution all swimmers swam in the wild because there were simply no swimming pools to access. What many do not realise is that the British pioneered a return to swimming and bathing and held the worlds hand as it were, by reintroducing swimming as an acceptable sport worldwide. Yet the swimmers freedom to enjoy fresh air and sunshine was soon brought to end. But why were English swimmers rounded up and confined to indoor swimming pools when elsewhere in Europe outdoor swimming continued with approval rather than restriction?
The public facilities once enjoyed countrywide on river, lake and canal banks became out of bounds as swimming restrictions brought an end to the swimmers liberty in the UK. How were we, a nation of adventurous outdoor swimmers, persuaded that one of the greatest pleasures in life was in fact just too dangerous?
The British have become institutionalized at the indoor pool. Many are afraid to swim beyond its walls and escape the watchful gaze of a lifeguard. Yet for those who have experienced the forbidden fruits of outdoor swimming, questions come to mind. Hung Out to Dry investigates how and why we British came to separate ourselves from Europe and America and indeed from nature itself by frowning on outdoor swimming. It uncovers the attitudes that continue to restrict the swimmers freedom in this age of tolerance and liberty.
This book is far more than a history of swimming. Hung Out to Dry chronicles British culture exposing the
rational behind our national obsession with constraining the wild swimmers freedom.
Prepare to be intrigued and fascinated by a rich and diverse
treasure trove of knowledge, as refreshing and amusing as is wild
Read Hung Out to Dry and your eyes will be opened to this shamefully neglected aspect of our heritage. A change in attitude that could have arisen nowhere other than in Britain; the birthplace of the industrial revolution.
persuasive book... intriguing from the outset, a fascinating chronology
of British swimming which goes much deeper than one might expect. Well
researched and interestingly written... the historical ebb and flow of
swimming popularity is quite remarkable." Swimming Times
"...a thought-provoking and stimulating book, written in an accessible, direct and conversational style. It should be of interest to every outdoor swimmer." Outdoor Swimming Society
Ayriss's idiosyncratic approach is as refreshing as the waters he
loves and the ebb and flow of his story matches that of meandering
stream; you never know what is round the next bend." Spring 2014 Physical Education Matters
"...a fascinating book ...very readable, informative and entertaining... excellent illustrations. Leicester Mercury
captivating book exposes for the first time the dramatic impact that
swimmers have had on British morals and culture... Swimmers used to be
common in the lakes and waterways of England. How were these sportsmen
chased out of the great outdoor waters, and relocated to indoor swimming
pools? Discover how pride turned to prejudice as swimmers sparked the
development of British Prudery." Cornwall Today
Recommended: "Ayriss clearly loves open water swimming
and his despair at the restrictions imposed on swimmers shines
through... informed, entertaining and factual... The book is supported
by an excellent collection of illustrations and historic photographs." H2Open Magazine