Caught by the River

Waterlog: A Swimming Film

Joe Minihane | 23rd August 2018

Joe Minhane introduces a new film – a collaboration with Ben Cox – based on his book ‘Floating’

“Keep swimming towards me, keep swimming towards me.” It’s 5pm on a wet August afternoon and Ben and I are in the middle of Easedale Tarn, to the west of Grasmere, the rain popping off the surface, the scree slopes a wet grey in the smudgy light. I keep my head high, stare into the camera before Ben disappears beneath me.

I swim on in a straight line, towards a single rock that sits above the tarn’s surface. I hear Ben’s gasp for air before I see him, about twenty feet to my right, his long curls slick across his face, camera held high.

“Got it?” I ask.

“Got it.”

We turn and swim back to the water’s edge, our kit covered beneath strategically laid waterproofs. We emerge into the downpour, Ben peering into the screen to get a better look at the shot. This is it. Our journey together is over at last.

Ben Cox and I have been travelling around the UK together for the past year, swimming in Fairy Pools, lochs surrounding ruin castles, lakes at Christian retreat centres, rivers that flow out of MOD firing ranges and in a frigid February sea beneath starling murmurations.

Ben has been making a film loosely based on my book, Floating, exploring my retracing of Roger Deakin’s Waterlog in a bid to conquer anxiety. The film explores swimming’s relationship with mental health and the benefits of water for those, like me, that struggle to find coping mechanisms in everyday life.

You can watch it at the top of this page. It’s been a labour of love, especially for Ben, whose talents I’ve been so lucky to see first-hand. When he first contacted me about making a film, after I shared a swimming playlist with Lauren Laverne on her 6music show, I never expected he’d create something so visually arresting or artfully edited. Once again, swimming has brought me a new friend and helped me use my anxiety to create something that, we hope, will be a force for good.


Joe Minhane reads on our stage at next month’s Good Life Experience. Lineup/tickets.

Joe’s website/Twitter account