‘Hung Out to Dry’ the History of British Swimming – 2012 Revision

Revision 2012 – enhanced photographs, text updated throughout.

Swim in the great outdoors and experience the cool refreshing waters of the expansive British countryside and you will find returning to any indoor swimming pool both stifling and restrictive. Often featured in newspapers and magazines, modern day wild swimming is regaining popularity in the UK Alice Roberts and Robson Green have brought the wild swimming adventure into our homes through television, but the resurgence began in 1999 with Roger Deakin’s celebrated book; Waterlog.

Before the construction of swimming pools during the industrial revolution, all swimmers swam in the wild. Refreshing, invigorating and healthful though it was, swimmers were chased out of open water and confined to indoor swimming pools. As attitudes have changed, wild swimmers living in cities today often struggle to find a suitable place to swim, with approval, outdoors. Although in the past people swam in the waters closest to their homes with public facilities being constructed on riversides canals lakes and at the seaside, modern-day swimming restrictions make life difficult for the would-be wild swimmer. Guide books such as Wild Swimming by Daniel Start, and Kate Rew’s: Wild Swim, direct us to popular if isolated swimming holes, but Hung Out to Dry questions: why should we have to travel? Why have British attitudes hardened towards wild swimming when, after all, the sport re-surfaced right here in Britain some 400 years ago sparking change worldwide? Discover why British attitudes today have changed so greatly especially when compared to our European and American cousins.

Hung Out to Dry examines the checkered history of British swimming, from the swimming zeal of the conquering Romans; through years of religious and superstitious intolerance; to the health and safety obsessions of today. The seaside holiday sparked the realization that swimming costumes were essential. The construction of lidos countrywide improved the nation’s health whilst introducing the sunshine era. One chapter focuses on the social history of swimming in the city of Leicester and the influence that Leicester personalities such as Daniel Lambert, Thomas Cook, and Jennie Fletcher have had on the swimming world. Discover how a clash of culture changed British swimming from an animated, outdoor, playful activity mostly enjoyed by working class boys, into a very competitive sport, confined predominantly to man-made indoor pools. This history of British swimming sheds new light on the development of British culture, conveying insight and understanding as to the growth of our current prejudice towards outdoor swimmers. Discover how, despite restrictions, the desire to escape to the wild is propelling swimmers out of indoor swimming pools to return to nature to swim in the wild. Be inspired!

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“…entertaining, interesting, and educational …a fascinating book… well worth buying.” Dan Graham, Gone Swimming, 03 May 2012

“…informed, entertaining and factual… supported by an excellent collection of illustrations and historic photographs.” Simon Griffiths, h2open magazine, June 2011

“…extremely interesting and informative …an entertaining read.” Soar Magazine, April 5, 2011

“This captivating book exposes for the first time the dramatic impact swimmers have had on British morals and culture” —Cornwall Today, July, 2010

“…a fascinating book by local author Chris Ayriss. …very readable, informative and entertaining …excellent illustrations.” —The Leicester Mercury, May 25, 2010

“…the whole story makes for a fascinating social history.” —The Bristol Evening Post, May 17, 2010

“…a thought-provoking and stimulating book, written in an accessible, direct and conversational style. …of interest to every outdoor swimmer.” —The Outdoor Swimming Society, February, 2010

“This book examines the social history of swimming, demonstrating the important role it has played in everyday British Culture.” Leicestershire Historian (2010)

“Discover how pride turned to prejudice as swimmers sparked the development of the unique British culture of prudery.” Countryside La Vie, July, 2010

#Britain #Swimmingpool #OutdoorSwimmingSociety #BritishSwimming #JennieFletcher #KateRew #RogerDeakin

Take a trip back in time! Discover just how many official ASA recommended outdoor swimming facility's were available to a nation keen to take the plunge back in 1912...

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