For swimmers, water offers a place of freedom and healing. Amniotic, infinite, it holds you up, but yields to your strokes. Water lets you move through it as if flying. Whereas light travels invisibly through air, unless interrupted by a prism, water bends its rays and reflects them into dissolving silver hoops.
These hoops spangle your skin as you dive through them. They dance up from the tiled floors of swimming pools. Neither of the two public open air pools I most love to swim in were open in the strange summer of 2020.
But when they come into my mind, the air is full of the sounds of children laughing and splashing. Swimmers lap their steady lengths from one side to the other and back again, with flashes of sky above them as we turn to breathe – and then submerge again.
To comfort myself for only being able to swim outside once so far in 2020, I have been seeking out and reading books about swimming. The ones below give me delight and comfort. They sluice me with the ocean waves which wash both coasts of America with Bonnie Tsui, catch the fiery chill of jellyfish rich waters off New Zealand with Nina Mingya Powles, dip me into hotel pools in the Alps, or pre-dawn training laps in Toronto with Leanne Shapton, or submerge me into the sulphurous waters of a Hungarian Spa Sanatorium in Budapest where miracles happen for Abi Palmer.
Sanatorium Abi Palmer http://www.pennedinthemargins.co.uk/index.php/2020/03/sanatorium/
Swimming Studies Leanne Shapton https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/310189/swimming-studies-by-leanne-shapton/
Tiny Moons Nina Mingya Powles
Why We Swim Bonnie Tsui
The open air pool in Dieppe (below) is open year round.