Swimming in a contained space: Understanding the experience of indoor lap swimmers

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Abstract

Drawing on ethnographic work, this paper explores the convergence of bodies, materialities and practices found at the indoor swimming pool – a space that has not often been the subject of geographical study, in spite of the fact that swimming is one of the most popular forms of exercise in countries such as the UK. The paper focuses on the “contained” nature of the indoor pool environment, examining the distinct experience this can create for lap swimmers. This focus is placed in the context of a broader politics of exercise, with an emphasis on the popularity and potential benefits of swimming, as well as less encouraging facts about participation and facility provision, suggesting that in order to encourage further uptake of swimming and preservation of swimming facilities the voices and experiences of regular swimmers should be considered.

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