A Meditation On Water
This project is an adaptation of Salt On Your Tongue by Charlotte Runcie with other supporting texts; Wintering by Katherine May and At The Pond by Deborah Moggach. It is an exploration on Open Water Swimming in East Anglia, focusing on the relationship women have to the landscape. In Salt On Your Tongue, Runcie explains how in the Eighteenth century, women were seen as a danger by men for being out at sea because there had been many stories told of them being aggressive, controlling men and effecting their consciousness. However women had and still have a much more spiritual link to the water which was ignored for many years.
"In the ancient mind, there was a clear link between women's suspicious affinity with the sea and the ebb flow of the tides, rhythmic yet chaotic and uncontrollable, in step with the moon. Men were creatures of the sun and earth, sure footed and unpredictable, while women were shifting and mutable, profoundly and essentially in touch with the ever moving water, moon and stars". -Runcie
There are many different aspects of Open Water Swimming where the landscape comforts, consoles and entertains. This was experienced by many women when swimming at The Hampstead Ladies Pond, as everyday is different offering many kinds of beauty. Some swimmers enjoy the rivers tranquil and silky appearance but other swimmers prefer battling the waves created by the sea.
The individuals who swim in the north sea all year round, encounter temperatures at around 6 Degrees in the winter and up to 17 degrees in the summer. Through my own experience and talking to others, the effect of swimming through cold water means that, the brain is forced to focus on the cold which takes away any anxiety and pain. With swimming through these extreme conditions, it makes the individuals mentally strong as they choose to keep going which is what makes so many people admire their determination.
This project also took an unexpected turn due to the coronavirus pandemic, in which individuals have been effected in various ways. I have paid close attention to how my own mental health has changed as well as others. Swimming has become a popular option for individuals to find some exhilaration as well as calmness during these struggling times. What I have found most interesting is how we seem to be trying to reconnect ourselves back to nature after being told to stay away during lockdown.