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Title: Bodies of water : writing the cultural geographies of indoor lane swimming
Author: Ward, Miranda
ISNI:       0000 0004 8499 3790
Awarding Body: Royal Holloway, University of London
Current Institution: Royal Holloway, University of London
Date of Award: 2017
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This thesis explores the convergence of bodies, materialities and practices of the indoor swimming pool, focusing particularly on the habits and experiences of regular lane swimmers in the UK. Swimming is one of the UK's most popular sports in terms of participation, and yet relatively little work in academic geography has addressed the practice of lane swimming or sought to situate the swimming pool as a site through which the embodied experience of place may be explored. Seeking to redress this omission, the thesis is based on research focused ethnographically on pools in and around one city in the south of England, combining semi-structured interviews with regular lane swimmers, observations of swimming practices, and auto-ethnographic participation. Textually, the thesis advances a geographical tradition of place writing in which the author/geographer is bodily present in an environment and writes about it from a first-person perspective, extending such work from its more traditionally masculine subjectivities, and indeed largely terrestrial and outdoor realms, through a focus on the confined space of the pool and the repetitious, habitual, rhythmic act of swimming laps in a lane. Compositionally, the thesis is divided into two main sections. The first section sets up the main theoretical and empirical impulses of the study, positioning them in relation to literatures on place, body, and health, as well as on writing as a methodology for geographical research. A contextual history of swimming and the pool is also offered. The second section is structured as a series of five essays on the pool and itsswimming bodies. In the first, the pool is presented as a contained space; the second suggests swimming as a form of correspondence between body and water; the third examines the swimming costume and its relation to identity and ideas of intimacy and anonymity; the fourth focuses on ways in which the swimming body is re-created through habitual encounter with the pool, emphasising the fluidity of both body and place; and the fifth and final essay dwells on the potential for the repetition and rhythm of lap swimming to produce a sense of stability. A concluding chapter returns to the wider themes of how place, writing and the body interrelate in these cultural geographies of indoor lane swimming.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Swimming ; Geography ; Place ; Bodies ; Pools ; writing