Tomorrow I fly to China to Swim…
300m in Daming Lake, at sub 5 degree temperatures, with hundreds of other swimmers from China and across the globe, at the 5th International Winter Swimming Festival, in Jinan City, Shandong Province, North China.
I love how swimming adventures pop up as if from nowhere; yet somehow reveal a hidden logic that joins once disparate dots from across your life, together.
China has been a part of my life for almost two decades. I first went to China in 1996 to teach English as part of my ‘Gap Year’. Since then, I have had the opportunity to study, live and work in the country on a number of occasions and have been fascinated by the countries economic and social development.
My last visit to China was in 2008, when I working as a lawyer in Beijing. It was amazing to be living in the city at the time of the Olympics.
It was the performance of female British swimmers Keri-Anne Payne and Cassie Patten in the Open Water Swimming events at Beijing 2008 that helped start the growth of open water swimming in the UK.
In 2010 I swam my first mile and open water swimming is now my big passion in life.
The human body is 90% water and 71% of the earth’s surface is covered in water. It’s what sustains us and connects individuals and communities across the globe; yet our never ending rush for advancement means the world is facing a fresh water crisis and our oceans are being decimated, etching the battle lines of the future on a fragile liquid landscape.
It’s easy to get swept up in political and commercial agenda, and sometimes it feels we are at risk of forgetting that behind the brands, policies and rhetoric are people; each of us made of that same 90% water.
Now, more than ever it is time to remember that essence; our shared humanity.
Like many people, when I swim, I feel free. I am in my element and global and personal agenda falls away.
It is a great honour to have been invited to swim in Jinan. I am really excited to return to China and rather than work or study, to be celebrating my passion for water with new Chinese friends and the wider international swimming community.
My favourite Chinese proverb is ‘芙蓉出水’ (fúróng chūshuǐ) meaning ‘Out of the Water a Lotus Rises’ The proverb is used to describe strong beautiful women in water, and also overcoming challenges and coming into bloom, and inspired the poem that I wrote for Amy Sharrock’s Swimmers’ Manifesto in Summer in summer 2014.
That meaning resonates with me deeply and inspired the creation of this blog, ‘A Lotus Rises’ which is part of an online community, dedicated to women who inspire and are inspired by a love of water.
The symbol of Jinan is a lotus, and they rise up out of the water of Daming Lake. I am really excited to bring together all these different elements of my life by participating in the festival.
From Beijing I will travel to Jinan, then to Shanghai and Hong Kong and on to Sydney and Tasmania.
Tomorrow marks the start of a journey connecting friends, personal, social and intellectual passions, swimscapes, landscapes, communities, and family history… and I am sure many more things I cannot anticipate; all the way to Tasmania…
‘芙蓉出水‘(fúróng chūshuǐ) ‘Out of the Water a Lotus Rises’.
A Lotus Rises is dedicated to women who love open water, from your first splash, through to wild swims and marathon swimming.
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