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• NEWS: 12th of JUNE 2018 •

 

The Butterfly Effect: How The Swimming Pool Is Capable Of Every Kind Of Symbolism

 

STORY BY: SALLY A. EDWARDS

PHOTOGRAPHY COURTESY OF © HATJE CANTZ | © KEYSTONE/GETTY IMAGES | KEYSTONE-FRANCE/GAMMA-KEYSTONE VIA GETTY IMAGES | ©PIXABAY | © H. ARMSTRONG ROBERTS / GETTY IMAGES | © PHOTO BY KEYSTONE-FRANCE/GAMMA-RAPHO VIA GETTY IMAGES

Swimming is hands down my favourite exercise, I won medals when I was little and swam for the county I lived in... but it didn’t start out that way.

I was four years old when I had my very first swimming lesson. It was in stone cold water in a round, concrete pool with a step ladder running up the side.

I remember being taught to hold onto the float and kick my legs. I was so cold and frightened I figured out I could walk across the pool and hold the float to make it look like I was swimming. The teacher looked at me and asked if I was alright. I burst into tears and was pulled out shaking like a leaf.

 

A few years later I was fully trained - still at a very young age when my family lived in Scotland. This was gruelling and very military-like. The teaching style was notoriously strict. I was taught every stroke, rescue, diving, you name it. Butterfly was my favourite. I also adored backstroke because the pools had such high ceilings with stunning workmanship, so I’d lose myself in the environment. The acoustics too are completely different when you’re on your back and you feel disconnected and free.

My twin, Sarah and I were always referred to as fish because of how comfortable we became in the water.

 

When we moved back to England I was nine, tiny and a foreigner (again), which also meant I was a target. I recall on our first swimming lesson at school the teachers didn’t believe we had skills so the entire class sat around the pool while we were both made to swim for everyone. I chose butterfly, Sarah chose freestyle. They were speechless and the other kids, well they were kids. Thankfully the coaching paid off and the water gave me a freedom from my circumstances that I never knew existed.

 

There’s something mysterious to me about how swimming makes you feel. The connection with water of how you control yet flow with it, the power you feel as you gain distance and the beautiful build up of adrenalin. The effects are also exhilarating to me, I feel renewed and energised after a swim, like the energy of the water has reset my batteries and confidence. I’ve got those hardcore teachers in Scotland to thank.

 

The additional beauty to swimming is there is no language barrier, there’s an unspoken respect and there are worldwide stunning locations that only add to the feeling. Renowned publisher, Hatje Cantz in Berlin has released a book entitled, The Swimming Pool in Photography so you can get right in yet stay warm and dry and soak up an international tour of swimming experiences in the process.

 

 

Cultural studies professor Francis Hodgson eloquently describes it in the foreword, “The swimming pool has been at different times and places suburban, exotic, utterly private, boisterously public, a threat or a blessing. It is, quite obviously, capable of every kind of symbolism from the crude assertion of financial status to an almost mystical fluidity of meanings that neatly complements the great puddle of chlorinated water that it holds.”

 

The Swimming Pool in Photography features works by Henri Cartier-Bresson, Gigi Cifali, Stuart Franklin, Harry Gruyaert, Emma Hartvig, Jacques Henri Lartigue, Joel Meyerowitz, Martin Parr, Paolo Pellegrin, Mack Sennett, Alec Soth, Larry Sultan, Alex Webb and more.

 

THE SWIMMING POOL IN PHOTOGRAPHY

Text by Francis Hodgson, graphic design by Tim Bisschop English

2018. 240 pp., 200 ills.

hardcover

23.00 x 27.00 cm

ISBN 978-3-7757-4409-6 40,00 EUR

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