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New book: Toes in the Water

Written by Fiona

December 05 2023

A new book, Toes in the Water, offers 14 inspiring stories of lives changed by wild swimming. As wild swimming has grown in recent years, so have the anecdotes and research about the benefits of immersing yourself in open water, including lakes, lochs, rivers and the sea.

Indeed, the idea for the paperback came from the editor Rachel Jones, who credits swimming with helping her to overcome issues with anxiety. From discussions with other swimmers, she realised many of them also use swimming to manage their mental health.

Rachel set about collecting a range of different stories for the book, including those of seasoned wild swimmer Anna Deacon, open water swim coach Colin Hill and the editor of Outdoor Swimmer, Ella Foote.

The stories engage with a number of issues, too, ranging from harmful algae in lakes to plastic waste and pollution in waterways. (All the Royalties from Toes in the Water go to the Canal and River Trust to help fund their environmental work and campaigning.)

My thoughts: Toes in the Water

The paperback book might be slim, but it’s packed with interesting stories of wild swimming. It’s the sort of book that you pick up and flick open to reveal another story. The stories are all different but interesting and thought-provoking.

For example, there is Catherine White who describes the amazing freedom of wild swimming. She talks of being able to leave behind tangible items of a modern life, like her mobile phone, and also mental stresses when she goes for an open water swim.

Emma Harper has created an alter ego Mischief the Mermaid, who swims on the Cornish coast and raises money for children’s mental health charities, as well as visiting schools to talk about ocean conservation.

Katie Richards tells a powerful story of how wild swimming helped her to rediscover self-worth and make new friends after a period of personal trauma.

Then there is Simon Harmer, who lost both is legs in Afghanistan, and who used swimming as part of his rehabilitation and subsequently discovered a very supportive outdoor swimming community.

I won’t reveal any more because I’d encourage you to buy the book and have a read yourself. It would also make a great stocking filler gift this Christmas.

The book is a simple paperback and does not have photos. I always like to see where people swim but then, again, perhaps the lack of photos helps the reader to focus on the stories being told.

It’s published in the Adventure Books series by Vertebrate Publishing. To buy, see Toes in the Water. (Note that I receive a small commission for sales through this website.) And here.

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