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Leap In By Alexandra Heminsley

Release date: 13th March, 2018
Publisher: Windmill Books

List Price: £7.99
Our Price: £6.48
You Save: £1.51 (18%)
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Anyone who swims regularly will know there’s a marked difference between the sport’s indoor and outdoor versions. Inside, you’re tackling warm, relatively calm water; the nearest you come to a disturbance is the technique of a swimmer coming in the opposite direction which may create a small, temporary wave and result in an unwanted mouthful of chlorinated water.

Otherwise, pool-based swimming, while faster, is also easier and topped off with a warm shower.

Outdoor swimming, especially in the sea, is a different beast altogether. Even the calmest sea has some form of swell and waves capable, ironically, of causing sea-sickness, while unseen currents can push the strongest swimmer away from an onshore target.

Alexandra Heminsley, who enjoyed enormous critical success with her last ‘sporting memoir’, Running Like A Girl, has scored again with Leap In, an often hilarious account of her transformation from an envious pool swimmer who could barely manage a few lengths of breaststroke to a focused sea-swimmer who successfully swims four kilometres from Ithica to Kefalonia.

Heminsley regarded sea swimmers as a ‘different species’ who would “glide through the sea, ageless, genderless, part of the water, a part of the view. It seemed rigorous, but also peaceful.” Initially egged on by her sister to take a dip in the sea on the morning of her wedding, Heminsley becomes as hooked on open sea swimming as she became on running in her previous book. Her enthusiasm is infectious.

The author finds that if you’re to do it properly, sea swimming takes a considerable amount of effort and commitment, but it yields immediate results. It’s refreshing, relieves stress, has enormous psychological and physical benefits and, when you set yourself a target, offers a genuine challenge.

Heminsley’s biggest problem when in the sea is mastering her breathing – but as the book’s latter part explains (it offers a brief history of swimming and details of how techniques have changed over the centuries), she is far from the first person to suffer.

Anyone who enjoyed Running Like A Girl will want to read Leap In. If you’ve not yet read either, add both to your reading list because they go both beyond tales of perseverance against the elements. Too many young women give up on sport once they’ve left school, but Heminsley shows again what a once sport-averse female can do once she sets her mind to it, an approach that makes Leap In such an inspirational read.


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