Bodies of Water


Photo Credit: fanirfanfan via Compfight cc

Last Tuesday I had the pleasure of presenting some of my research to Landscape Surgery. My talk was based on a paper that was read out on my behalf at this year’s AAG annual meeting, as I couldn’t be there myself, so it was wonderful to get feedback on the ideas and engage in discussion with the group.

The title of the session was ‘Bodies of Water: discomfort, unpleasantness, and the complex materialities of the indoor swimming pool.’ My PhD research explores the geographies of lap swimming and the convergence of bodies, materialities, and practices of the indoor swimming pool. In this talk I focused on the materialities of everyday lap swimming practice, with a particular emphasis on elements which may provoke anxiety or discomfort in swimmers: water, chlorine, hair, plasters, snot, sweat, mould…


“the lifeguards at the pool…remind you of the thin line between waving and drowning” (Deakin 2000: 3)
Photo Credit: laszlo-photo via Compfight cc

Thematic points of discussion included:

  • The pool as landscape/what happens when your landscape is effectively reduced to 25 metres of tiled floor?
  • Ideas of comfort/discomfort in the context of exercise and the body (and the sites/environments where this takes place)
  • The role that individual experience, memory, mood, association play on perception of material components / vice versa
  • Ideas around enclosure and intrusion

It was a real privilege to be part of the stimulating discussion that followed the talk, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to present and think through some of my work in such a generous environment. Thanks to all who attended and contributed!

If you’re curious, you can read more about my research here, or visit my research blog.

– Miranda Ward (PhD candidate)


Work cited

Deakin, R. (2000), Waterlog, London: Vintage

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