Where We Swim

Ingrid Horrocks

Where We Swim
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Where We Swim

Ingrid Horrocks

Ingrid Horrocks had few aspirations to swimming mastery, but she had always loved being in the water. She set out on a solo swimming journey, then abandoned it for a different kind of immersion altogether - one which led her to more deeply examine relationships, our ecological crisis, and responsibilities to those around us.


Where We Swim ranges from solitary swims in polluted rivers in Aotearoa New Zealand, to dips in pools in Arizona and the Peruvian Amazon, and in the ocean off Western Australia and the south coast of England.

Part memoir, part travel and nature writing, this generous and absorbing book is about being a daughter, sister, partner, mother, and above all a human being living among other animals on this watery planet.

Review

At a time when we can’t travel very far from home, let Ingrid Horrocks take you to bodies of water across the world in Where We Swim, a warm and compelling blend of memoir, travel and nature writing. This unique book is expansive in scope, covering wide ground both literally (from the south coast of England to pools in Arizona and the Peruvian Amazon) and emotionally (considering what it means to be a mother, daughter, sister and partner). These personal relationships are threaded alongside the urgent relationship between humans and the natural world in the face of the current ecological crisis.

Horrocks is a highly engaged, generous member of the nonfiction writing community, both in her home country of Aotearoa New Zealand and across the globe. It follows that Where We Swim is equally generous and feels as if it’s in conversation with so many other texts (both fiction and nonfiction) about our relationship with swimming and our climate more broadly. Horrocks’s thoughtful engagement with the contemporary writing of James Bradley, Rebecca Giggs, Kim Scott, Sophie Cunningham and Pip Adams, among others, is a highlight of the book, and fans of these writers will get so much out of Horrocks’s collection.

Energising, informative and often darkly funny, the tales of adventures in Where We Swim are accompanied by a grasp of relationships that feels relatable and true – the closeness and distance of Horrocks’s family is expertly drawn and incredibly moving. In questioning what exactly this book that she’s writing will be, Horrocks speaks to how much her earlier nonfiction used literature to foreground her own experiences in the world. But Where We Swim breaks away from this shield. This personal collection is firmly anchored in the present moment. It’s a gentle joy to read, and I know I’ll find myself thinking about it for some time.


Stella Charls is a bookseller at Readings Carlton.

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