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1001 Outdoor Swimming Tips book review

Written by Fiona

June 22 2022


Calum Maclean is the author of a new book, 1001 Outdoor Swimming Tips: Environmental, safety, training and gear advice for cold-water, open-water and wild swimmers. I have been sent a copy without charge and for an honest review.

Calum is a keen outdoor swimmer and I follow him on social media. I’ve also met and worked with him as part of a media team. When reading this book, I can almost hear his voice talking me thought his tips, advice and thoughts on swimming, especially in Scottish lochs, waterfall pools and at the coast.

The book includes a list of 1001 essential tips, whether you’re new to outdoor swimming or regularly enjoy cold water swims. It covers a wide range of topics such as biosecurity, safety, recovery, night swimming, swimming with children, gear and training.

The book publishes on July 7, priced £25. To buy the book see Adventure Books and from Amazon(I receive a small commission for sales through my website.)

Who is Calum Maclean?

Calum Maclean is a writer, broadcaster and outdoor swimmer. He swims year-round in all conditions, from cold-water dipping and competing in ice swimming races, to long-distance, open-water swims.

He makes films for the BBC on this subject in both Gaelic and English, including his series for BBC ALBA, Dhan Uisge (Into the Water).

An ambassador for the Outdoor Swimming Society, Calum has also spoken at the Royal Scottish Geographical Society and is an award-winning filmmaker.

He lives in Aberfeldy, where his regular swimming spot is the River Tay.

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My review: 1001 Outdoor Swimming Tips book

I like the tone of the book, 1001 Outdoor Swimming Tips. It’s practical and informative and, because it’s broken up into short one to several sentence tips, it’s an easy read.

I have tended to dip in and out of the book rather than read it page after page in a front-cover-to-back-cover format.

I also like the photography. The photos are inspiring and they will surely encourage more people to take to open water swimming.

It’s also a positive that Calum hasn’t added a list of great places to swim. I am a firm believer that we should discover our own places to swim – unless they are proper facilities or venues – and not make lists so that hundreds of people can head there and spoil a once tranquil spot.

Finding your favourite places to swim usually comes through personal discovery and word of mouth from friends.

I like Calum’s tip number 757: “The route to success is paved with failure. Half of the places you visit might be rubbish, but perseverance is how the gems are found.”

In fact, tips 757 to 775 are some of my favourite in the book. Calum suggests that you should become familiar with reading maps and take it from there.

I also welcome the section on menopause (379 to 391). I know of many women who have found outdoor swimming benefits both mentally and physically and especially from peri-menopause age onwards. Some of the points are bit basic and generalised, but you can find further and more in-depth info in other places so that’s fine.

One thing I am not so keen on is the publisher’s need to have a 1001 format. I get that it’s a great title and sits nicely in a collection of other 1001 tip books, but in reality it all seems rather forced. I think the book would have been just as useful and informative if it had been written without the 1 to 1001 format.

Sections with proper sentences, paragraphs and some sub-heads would have worked better, rather than the rather child-like listicle format. This is not Calum’s fault and he has stuck to the request for 1001 points but it feels contrived in places.

The sections of white text on a coloured background are difficult to read. There are blocks of white text on coloured boxes throughout the book and these stop the flow of reading, rather than enhancing the process.

Also, I am a grammar pedant. One major bug bear is “try and”… do something. It should be “try to”…

Conclusion: 1001 Outdoor Swimming Tips book

The book offers an attractive and informative book. I can see the book being a popular buy as a gift for swimmers and also a good coffee table book. There is a wealth of very useful information and it comes from a very experienced outdoor swimmer. Somehow, I think it might have felt more grown up if it was not in a lisiticle format.

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