Watermarks: Writing by Lido Lovers & Wild Swimmers

09th May, 2017

Tanya Shadrick, writer-in-residence at Pells Pool, presents Watermarks: an anthology of new writing by lido lovers and wild swimmers

Between May and September last year, I arrived early at Pells Pool each day to put out my little swimming pool library. The books I shared with fellow pool-goers will be familiar to anyone who enjoys the Outdoor Swimmers’ Library recommendations Peter Hancock creates for OSS: Waterlog; Pondlife; Swimming Studies; Haunts of the Black Masseur; Swimming to Antarctica.

To complement these long and absorbing reads, I wanted an anthology akin to a series of quick dips and swallow dives: surprising, vivid, graceful. Not finding one, I got backing from Pells Pool and Lewes-based publishers The Frogmore Press to create Watermarks.

“We reach the rapid and throw ourselves off the rock. It’s like jumping into a beautiful cocktail made with crème de menthe and the most effervescent volcanic water.” Sharrah, Lynne Roper


Our call for new poetry, short fiction and life-writing from those who find inspiration in lidos, lakes, rivers and oceans was answered by swimmers at home and abroad. F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote ‘all good writing is swimming under water and holding your breath.’ The writer-swimmers in Watermarks had us do just that.

Lake Ontario. Skarðsvík. Isola Santa. Galway. Hong Kong. Trollhagen. In waters from around the world, we are immersed in birth and death, danger and rescue, new loves and last. Ness Cove. Spitchwick. Thurlestone. Sharrah. Swimmers closer to home take us places few know and less dare: freezing mountain pools, rivers in full spate where buoyancy is lost suddenly in froth and bubbles.

With work by more than fifty fine writers, the collection includes an extract from Alexandra Heminsley’s new memoir Leap In and three exquisite pieces by Lynne Roper, former press officer for OSS who died last year after being diagnosed with a brain tumour in February 2016.

“Frank’s swallow dive was, according to the great Betty Slade, a thing of beauty, the way he hung in the air. Like a Tiger Moth, she said…And my somersault with tuck? Well, ask your Nana.” They Can’t Really Fly, Ed Broom

Watermarks is dedicated to Lynne and anticipates a book-length collection of her swim-diaries – Wild Woman Swimming – that Tanya is editing for publication next year. You can order Watermarks online at
Amazon and Waterstones.