More-than-Buoyant Bodies and Aquatic Acclimation(s): Tracing the Psychoswimographies of England's Largest Lake

Lead Research Organisation: University of Exeter
Department Name: Geography


Open-water swimming (OWS), sea swimming, and 'wild swimming' in the UK and ROI have seen a resurgence of popular interest, with over 12.5 million people suggested having tried OWS in England between May 2018-2019 alone (Sport England, 2020). Academic research often aligns this growth with contemporary, human-centered, motivations for exercise and improved health and wellbeing through recreational, therapeutic, and competitive contexts (Atkinson, 2019). In response, this research will trace the co-constitutional forms of human and non-human health experienced during OWS in lacustrine spaces, expanding limited geographical research beyond individualised perspectives (Atkinson, 2019), competitive OWS (Throsby, 2013; 2016), and sea swimming (Foley, 2015; 2017). It will open more relational and intersectional insight concerning OWS's health-responsive acclimation(s) through a 12-month, psychogeographically influenced, ethnographic inquiry at Lake Windermere, England's largest lake in the Lake District National Park. This is a significant and contested site that experiences year-long recreational and competitive OWS (LDNPA, 2020b), environmental ill-health (LDNPA, 2020a), while also key to broader (inequitable) socio-cultural idylls of health and wellbeing (Mcphie, 2019). To document and analyse the entanglements of OWS and more-than-human health, the research will develop an ambitious participatory web-based mapping platform that traces the differential social and environmental affordances over a full season.

Research Questions

1) How are human and non-human health entangled through embodied experience(s) of OWS in Lake Windermere?
2) How are embodied experience(s) of OWS co-produced by the intersection ofsocial and environmental factors?
3) How can psychogeographically influenced methods, such as psychoswimographies, reshape understandings of human and non-human health in lacustrine spaces?
4) How can participatory web-based mapping help (re)shape more-than-academic understandings of the interrelations of OWS and 'healthy' lacustrine spaces?


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
ES/P000630/1 01/10/2017 30/09/2027
2580909 Studentship ES/P000630/1 01/10/2021 30/09/2024 Taylor Butler-Eldridge