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Bobbing in the park: wild swimming, conviviality and belonging

Bates, Charlotte ORCID: and Moles, Kate ORCID: 2022. Bobbing in the park: wild swimming, conviviality and belonging. Leisure Studies 10.1080/02614367.2022.2085774

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With swimming pools and lidos closed during the pandemic, the number of people dipping their toes in rivers, lakes and seas and swimming wild has swelled. In this paper, we reflect on the ways in which swimmers living in cities have found ways of immersing themselves, and how they have forged new friendships and communities in the water. Drawing on conversations with swimmers at a lake in an urban park and focusing on small and embodied everyday social interactions, from flashes of nudity to recognition between strangers, we explore how the opening – and temporary closures – of the lake have sparked convivial moments and how swimming reconfigures urban public space. Within this paper we engage with ideas of belonging and becoming. We think about absence and exclusion flowing alongside belonging and conviviality, and reflect on what that means for our understandings of leisure spaces, urban publics and bodies. We suggest that the power of wild swimming to restore, refresh and bring people together can revive our ideas about the place of water and wilderness in cities, while also drawing attention to enduring and pervasive inequalities.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Published Online
Status: In Press
Schools: Social Sciences (Includes Criminology and Education)
Publisher: Leisure Studies Association / Taylor & Francis
ISSN: 0261-4367
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 20 May 2022
Date of Acceptance: 20 May 2022
Last Modified: 06 Dec 2023 01:22

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