The history of wild swimming
As a child I enjoyed cycling and exploring the city with my friends. I always stopped to admire Leicester’s premier riverside Lido – The Bede House Bathing Station – (located to the left of the Statue of Liberty on Upperton Road). I gazed in wonder at the large sign on the back wall which read: ‘FOR SWIMMING ONLY – WATER 8 FOOT DEEP’. This clearly painted sign was in such contrast to the smaller notice attached to the canal bridge: ‘WARNING – this water is unsuitable for swimming – DO NOT BATHE’. As I saw many young swimmers enjoying the waterways on my travels, I wondered why the Corporation had gone to all the trouble of building this wonderful swimming pool into the river and canal and then gone on to close it? No one seemed to know just what had happened to the Bede House, but I was determined to find out. Hung Out to Dry is the culmination of my efforts to research, write and publish my work.
So what began as a simple research exercise into the demise of outdoor swimming in Leicester, led me first to Leicester’s Record’s Office, and from there to London, Oxford and Cambridge, where I both studied the history of swimming
and enjoyed the waters at all the locations mentioned in the book. I was inspired to tell the story of the British swimmer and through it show how our unique culture evolved. I took my whole family with me on these field trips which often included swimming our way around the country in rivers, lakes, Lido’s and the sea!
Outdoor swimming is a delight during the summer months and bears no comparison to the concrete world of the indoor pool. I hope that through the publication of this book, the British public will be tempted to return to their waters in the great outdoors.
Image via Wikipedia.