“Deep water – no swimming”. That’s the welcome we get at many of our most appealing lakes, while the Fire and Rescue Services regularly warn us not to swim in any river, lake or canal. And yet for centuries we used to swim in fresh waters just as people are accustomed to do in most other European countries. In this plea to reclaim a watery freedom Jean Perraton marshals the words of ordinary people and evocative poets who enjoyed wild swimming and vividly recorded its delights. Their enthusiasms are set against the analysis of the law on access to inland waters in England and Wales, the policies and prejudices of those that control our use of them, the requirements of the duty of care and the dangers of accidents or disease. Swimming Against the Stream argues for more tolerance towards a simple, environmentally friendly pleasure and provides practical suggestions to help recover a disappearing freedom. Together, the wet and dry chapters balance the emotional response against a cool appraisal of risk and reality, giving double strength to the case for changed attitudes and new policies. The result is both a delight and a practical compendium for anyone concerned with policy towards our inland waters.
In the second edition Jean Perraton updates the original text and includes a new chapter summarising the changes that have taken place in the last decade. She demonstrates how despite welcome improvements, there are still too many “No swimming” notices.
“I loved the combination of art and poetry, social history, access management and policy
evaluation” – Lynn Crowe, Professor of Environmental Management, Sheffield Hallam
Jean Perraton is president of the River and Lake Swimming Association, and chairs the
Cam Valley Forum, a voluntary organisation
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