The joy of wild swimming in rivers and lakes is a way of life celebrated across Europe and America. The freedom, fun and adventure of swimming in the wild is commonplace, accepted and readily available.
By contrast, in the UK wild swimming is often portrayed in the media as the preserve of an eccentric foolhardy minority. "No swimming" signs and warnings about drowning and disease make it seem like an extreme sport. 'Hung Out to Dry' investigates our island mentality by uncovering the rational that chased open water swimmers out of nature, to swim instead in the chlorinated confinement of indoor swimming pools. A move that almost brought a complete end to the joy of wild swimming in England.
The public facilities, once enjoyed countrywide on river lake and canal banks, have for the most part been lost and forgotten as restrictions progressively curtailed the wild swimmers liberty. Yet for those who enjoy the sport today the question arises: how was a nation of adventurous outdoor swimmers persuaded that one of the greatest pleasures in life was in fact something to be avoided?
Having become institutionalised at the indoor pool, swimmers who are not acquainted with wild swimming may fear to push beyond the walls of the training pool and away from the watchful gaze of a lifeguard. Yet for others, many questions come to mind having experienced the freedom and adventure of swimming in the wild. 'Hung Out to Dry' reveals how and why we British came to develop our unique negativity towards outdoor swimming, how we separated ourselves from nature and why we constrain the swimmers freedom in this age of tolerance and liberty.
"A persuasive book... intriguing from the outset, a fascinating chronology of British swimming which goes much deeper than one might expect. The author's passion for open water swimming is evident throughout and undeniably admirable. Well researched and interestingly written... the historical ebb and flow of swimming popularity is quite remarkable." ASA The Swimming Times
WILD SWIMMING definition: The practice or activity of swimming for pleasure in natural waters, typically rivers and lakes. English Oxford Living Dictionaries