Caught by the River

Floating: Swimming Stories

Joe Minihane | 25th June 2019

Joe Minihane, author of ‘Floating: A Return to Waterlog’, introduces a new swimming-centric podcast.

The same stretch of beach. The daily moan about too much plastic waste. The grumbles about the wind making the waves too intense, impassable to all but the bravest, most foolhardy of sea lovers.

I love living in Brighton and, more than anything, I love swimming here. But over the past three years I’ve swum off the beach near my home in Kemp Town so often that I’ve grown misty–eyed for long trips around the UK, slipping into murky rivers and icy lakes, exploring new places with friends, gleaning expertise about new bodies of water from those who know them best. It’s wonderful having a home patch, but it’s nice to go away to something utterly different and return to it with newfound appreciation and a sense that I should never take the proximity of the English Channel for granted.

That’s why I’ve started a swimming podcast – Floating: Swimming Stories. Selfishly, it’s a chance for me to swim in places I’ve never visited, or revisit old favourites from years ago, ones I loved and have missed ever since I wrote my book of the same name. 

But rather than me telling you, dear listener, about how much I’m enjoying my post–dip endorphin rush, Floating is about exploring the relationship between a particular body of water and a different guest each episode.

I’m interested in the intersection between swimming and feeling. Seeking to find what Roger Deakin described as the ‘third thing’ about water, beyond hydrogen and oxygen. Why does it do what it does to us? And how do different people experience it?

Guests take me to their favourite swimming spot and, after we’ve taken to the water, we sit down to discuss why they love to swim, what they take from the water and other issues that crop up whenever we spend time together in water, from gendered space within pools to the importance of egalitarianism when we tack out for the deep end.

The first episode features the incomparable Jenny Landreth. Author of Swell: A Waterbiography, Jenny is not only a strong swimmer but a woman with an inspirational streak who tells her own and others’ swimming stories with deftness and a sense of humour. We swam at her local spot, the majestic Tooting Bec Lido, six lengths of its vast 91 metre pool, before sitting on the new bleachers to discuss toxic masculinity while swimming, the democratic nature of water and the need for a less gung–ho approach to going for a dip in cold water.

I hope you enjoy it. There are more episodes in the pipeline, with future guests including Alexandra Heminsley, the author of Leap In; Ella Foote, the inspiring swimming journalist and speaker; and Joe Dunthorne, author of Submarine and The Adulterants.

Listen here.