The best books to give a swimmer for Christmas: order via Hive and your independent bookshop

I’ve been for another swim at London Fields Lido. There were mutterings that the heated water was a tad nippy so I took two pairs of gloves for afterwards as my hands get cold and take ages to warm back up again. The water was 19.5’C so fine in the spring or autumn but not quite so comfortable when the air is 8’C. There’s no bracing as you get in but you keep moving.

Last week new floodlights were installed poolside so you can swim in relative warmth til 9pm – must be magical. However the extended opening hours seem to be challenging the boiler, hence the cooler water temp.

I’ve gathered together a collection of swimming books this year. As there are 10 sleeps left until Christmas there’s plenty of time to add them to your wish list or give them to your swimming friends.

There are plenty of independent bookshop alternatives to the Large Online Company Based in Slough where you could buy these from – you could shop with Dulwich Books (Brockwell Lido round the corner, enormous events programme), Chorleywood Bookshop (smashing author events) and West End Lane Books (love the atmosphere but best of all their tweets). They will all happily order (and I’m sure post) books for you. Cleverly Hive allows you to select your favourite indie to support and order from online. I am now feeling slightly guilty for not making a longer list of brilliant independent bookshops I’ve been lucky enough to visit and work with, today I’ve just picked these three.

So here goes with my favourite swimming books (part 1) – which I’ve borrowed from the library, bought or pinched from my sister’s bookshelf:

swim waterlogphoto Swimming London

Waterlog-  A Swimmer’s Journey through Britain by Roger Deakin (Vintage)

I discovered this in my local library’s UK travel section. The author decided to travel all over the British Isles, and takes the reader with him, visiting every possible source of water you can swim in. From the Fowey in Cornwall to the North Sea via the ponds on Hampstead Heath to a mill pool in the River Avon. Intrigued? Then head on over to the blog Waterlogreswum where Roger’s escapades are reswum – you can also follow @WaterlogReswum on twitter.  It’s the perfect bedside reading companion, taking a dip at a time.

Swimming London by Jenny Landreth (Aurum Press)

I mention this book in all my swimming posts as it’s a bible for swimmers in the capital, with glorious photos and descriptions of 50 pools, lidos and lakes. She dwells on the Victorian Baths in Kentish Town and Camberwell, wonders at the Aquatic Centre in Stratford and is frank about the facilities at Denham Water-ski Club; and so much the better. Whenever I put it on a shelf the 10 year old Super Swimmer gets it back out again for us to pour over a different place to swim in.

swim leanne shap

Swimming Studies by Leanne Shapton – Particular Books

I discovered this thanks to Kate Kellaway’s review in the Observer click through to see the image which caught my eye in the paper. Leanne was a world class swimmer, representing Canada, and her autobiography takes us through early starts, pool deck side fall outs with her coach, and what swimming meant to her growing up and means to her now. I love to open this at random, I’ve just rediscovered her passage about needing to ‘Make a Commitment’ which she takes from Dr Keith Bell’s Nuts and Bolts of Psychology for Swimmers. He says ‘A commitment is important. Once you have set a long term goal, you have decided to make the trip. Without a commitment, however, you are liable to question each step of the way.’ Leanne’s own goal – to work out what to do with something ‘I do well but no longer have any use for’. Reminds me how if you don’t have a goal, be it in or out of the water, and don’t commit, you’re not really going to get anywhere.

swim home

Swimming Home by Deborah Levy (Faber)

I confess to not having read this yet, it’s on my Christmas reading pile and is the book I nabbed from my sister’s shelf. Let me know what you think of it.

Part 2 to follow later in the week


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