The OSS Stays In

We may all be social distancing or self-isolating, but no swimmer is an island. Here's our selection of films, podcasts, books and a special water-themed playlist to keep you going.

We’ve all worked out by now that sitting on your sofa in your swimming costume or trunks, swim cap and goggles on, is just no substitute for visiting your local swimming spot. But there are other ways to keep the fire burning until coronavirus is under control and we return to something like whatever it was that we used to call normal. Stay safe everyone – and we’ll see you on the other side.

Swims to plan

Have you always meant to explore beyond your usual spots or plan a swim journey? This is the time.

South West Seal Pups during their River Wye adventure

Things to listen to

  • An even more poignant listen given Charles Sprawson’s death earlier this year, BBC Radio 4’s Searching for Swimming Pools is a wonderful, tender portrait of the writer who gave the swimming community Haunts of the Black Masseur: The Swimmer as Hero (see book section).
  • Swimming Through Ice, part of the Radio 4 Out of the Ordinary series, features people trying to swim an ice mile. Host Jolyon Jenkins reports from the world ice swimming championships in Bavaria.
  • If you’re using the time indoors to do housework, work from home, or do DIY, our OSS Treading Water playlist features more than an hour of water-themed tunes, including Dennis Wilson’s River Song, 10cc’s Channel Swimmer, Peter Gabriel’s I Go Swimming and Foals’ Night Swimmer.

Things to read

Fancy an escape into a waterly world? The OSS Swimmers’ Library features modern and classic tales, divided into three sections: Memoir for biography and autobiographies, Marathon for adventures, and Short Stories for quick dips. Not sure what you fancy yet? Why not browse the reviews by our books editor Lexi Earle here.

For vicarious adventuring, try these OSS classics:

“I am haunted by waters. It may be that I’m too dry in myself, too English, or it may be simply that I’m susceptible to beauty, but I do not feel truly at ease on this earth unless there’s a river nearby.”

Olivia Laing, To The River

Swimstaman crosses the Hellespont. SWIMTREK

Things to watch

  • With impeccable timing, The Ponds, an evocative, inspiring film following year-round swimmers at the pools on Hampstead Heath, will be available to watch on Curzon Home Cinema from Monday 30th March. The co-producer/director, Patrick McLennan, notes: “Many will have seen the BBC Four version of film – this is the full 74-minute cinema release, not the 59-minute version. It is a bit swearier, but funnier for that!”
  • OSS Ambassador Calum Maclean’s wild swimming series for BBC Alba, Dhan Uisge (Into the Water), is available on BBC iPlayer (plus a playlist of clips on YouTube).
  • Chasing the Sublime features the OSS’ founder Kate Rew and muse Kari Furre swimming a Scottish sea loch. A slow-burn adventure film that meditates on the relationship outdoor swimmers have with discomfort.