Breathe Magazine

On Swimming – by Jim Butler (2017)

Listen to people evangelise about swimming and you could – could – be forgiven for thinking they were part of a cult. Words like tranquillity, confidence, meditation, relaxing and calming are never far from their lips. Phrases such as ‘it makes you feel alive’ and ‘it’s an inner and outer body experience’ only serve to (gently) hammer home the point.

Of course, something that 2.5 million people in England do on a weekly basis is not the preserve of some offbeat sect. Figures released last year by Sport England as part of its Active People’s Survey show that around one in 20 people aged over 14 swim at least once a week. Squeezing into Lycra and jumping on a bike might appear to be the exercise activity du jour, but swimming remains the nation’s most popular mass-participation sport.

It’s easy to see why. Swimming is relatively convenient and simple. In most cases you don’t need masses of kit. There isn’t a prohibitively jaw-dropping initial financial outlay. A swimsuit, or a pair of shorts, and perhaps some goggles, and you’re good to go.

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