In his debut memoir, a British journalist and copywriter tells the story of how outdoor swimming helped him cope with anxiety.
Minihane had glamorous dreams of becoming a journalist and travel writer, but as he approached 30, he found himself churning out copy about “phones, game consoles and speakers” instead. Even worse, the anxiety that had trailed him since graduate school had become a permanent feature of his life that he hid from everyone, including his wife. Temporary relief came only through swimming, so he swam “to fix myself, to cure myself and to make myself a better person in my own eyes.” In researching different places to partake of his “remedy,” the author came across the work of naturalist Roger Deakin, who had undertaken a journey across the British countryside to indulge his passion for swimming wild. Inspired, Minihane decided he would honor the late naturalist by following in his wake. He began his quest at a London public facility that he disliked for the way it had been transformed into a “commodity” rather than something that served the “well-being of society.” His first taste of the addictive headiness of a wild swim came with his experience in the River Granta. “Despite succumbing to extreme shivers,” he writes, “I was on a soaring high.” The inertia that had crippled him fell away as he eagerly anticipated each new adventure, which took him all over England and Scotland and helped him reconnect with old friends. When he accidentally broke his wrist and had to stop swimming, Minihane’s adventure ground to a halt and his anxiety returned. He sought therapy, which eventually became “like the swims I had enjoyed.” With expectations newly revised, the author resumed his watery journey, which had finally become his own. Detailed and searching, the book chronicles one man’s search for inner peace while reaffirming the calming power of the natural world.
A genuine and refreshing nature memoir.