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Field Notes

Vol. 10 No. 1: April issue

​​River Swimming Through Uncertainty​: Pandemic Immersions in a Therapeutic Chalkscape

April 5, 2022


In this Field Note, I share my experiences of an immersive period of ethnography undertaken with river swimmers in and along the River Beane and River Lea in the county town of Hertford, South-East England, from July 2020 until January 2021. As well as my personal experiences of being a swimmer, I include insights and observations from those I swam alongside to reflect on the feeling of wellbeing that river swimming instills in those dipping, swimming, and ‘dwelling’ in their local rivers. I use these insights to expand the notion of therapeutic landscapes, noting not only their temporality during a pandemic period of uncertainty and disconnection but also their minerality. I explore how therapeutic connections and closer relations between humans, non-humans and rivers, all watered by the same chalk aquifer, might be framed through the connective substance of chalk.