Best books on swimming

My sister-in-law recently sent a picture of herself on a socially-distanced sea swim near her Devon home.My heart leapt with joy for her, but also contracted a little. When will I next get a dose of vitamin sea?

I am a keen open-water swimmer. This summer, I was going to step it up with two of the Outdoor Swimming Society’s distance challenges, the Bantham Boomerang and the Dart 10k.Both are now cancelled.

Still, some open-water facilities have cautiously resumed sessions.

One of my chattiest WhatsApp groups is drawn from Swim Doctor class attendees at my local lido. This outdoor pool hopes to reopen, with socially-distanced measures for members-only, on July 4.

Erica heads to Greek island Hydra in Polly Samson¿s A Theatre For Dreamers (pictured)

The Mermaid Of Black Conch (pictured) follows Aycayia who is hauled from the ocean

Patricia Nicol shared a selection of fascinating books featuring swimming, including Polly Samson’s A Theatre For Dreamers (pictured left) and Monique Roffey’s The Mermaid Of Black Conch (pictured right)

A few of us have squeezed into wetsuits to swim at London’s Royal Victoria Docks.Swimming in what is technically the Thames, in a well-run facility overlooked by the mothballed Excel NHS Nightingale, hydraclubbioknikokex7njhwuahc2l67lfiz7z36md2jvopda7nchid.onion has provided one of my more surreal lockdown moments.

But, mostly, I can only read about swimming.

Polly Samson’s transporting A Theatre For Dreamers is set on the Greek island of Hydra in 1960.Erica, a bereaved young Londoner, heads there with a small inheritance and ends up hanging out with Leonard Cohen and his muse Marianne. Hedonistic days are spent sprawled on sun-baked rocks, then leaping into the glittering Aegean. Heaven!

A Caribbean backwater is the setting for Monique Roffey’s arresting The Mermaid Of Black Conch. Aycayia is drawn to the surface by fisherman David’s song. When she is hooked and hauled gasping from the ocean by an American angler, David seeks to save her.But where can Aycayia be most free, asks this truly original novel, deftly weaving myth, feminism, humour and social realism.

In the time-looping The Man Who Saw Everything, by Deborah Levy, historian Saul Adler goes swimming in 1988 in a cool, clear green lake reserved for East German bigwigs.

This is no time for reckless swimming but, if you can swim safely, then take a lucky dip.If not, dip into the pages of one of these.

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