Episodes

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Genome: [r4 Bd=19690507]

by Christine Dudley

Swimming is first keeping your head above water and then moving. Can all animals swim?

Nature series

Genome: [r4 Bd=19690507]

Unknown: Christine Dudley

2000010120000115
20110930

Taking his children to swimming lessons, Ian Sansom calculates that he has probably spent more time taking them to swimming lessons over the years than he has spent reading to them, playing with them or tending to their maths homework.

What does it all mean? Of course it's useful as a means of avoiding drowning.

In a very few cases it might result in a satisfying career path.

It's an enjoyable leisure activity, and a way of keeping fit.

But Ian suspects there's something more to it, and his reflections lead him to speculate on the wider meaning of swimming, on the many instances of significant swims and swimmers in film and literature, and on some of the figures who have swum through the pages of our literary canon.

Taking his cue from W H Auden, Ian finds analogies between the act of swimming and the act of poetic organisation, and recognises in other writers and philosophers the impulse to swim as an escape into the imagination.

Writer Ian Sansom reflects on the role of swimming in life and literature.