10 Inspiring Wild Swimming Quotes from Waterlog Author Roger Deakin

Roger Deakin’s book Waterlog is an unofficial bible of sorts for the Wild Swimming community. First published in 1999, it documents his journey around the British Isles as he swims in a wide assortment of different places, from rivers, ponds and lakes to bays, seas and (almost) whirlpools.

Charming, informative and unique, his lyrical writing reveals a deep love for the natural world and the simple joy of wild swimming. Like everyone in our wonderful wild swimming community, Roger Deakin is a character, full of life, humour and unmistakably special in the way that he chooses to be. In his case, a rebel with good manners, a keen sense of justice, a sharp wit and a pair of swimming trunks.


I hope you find inspiration and connection with his words.

Waterlog Wild Swimming Quotes from Roger Deakin

“I grew convinced that following water, flowing with it, would be a way of getting under the skin of things. Of learning something new. I might learn about myself too.”

 “When you swim, you feel your body for what it mostly is – water – and it begins to move with the water around it. No wonder we feel such sympathy for beached whales; we are beached ourselves at birth. To swim is to experience how it was before we were born.”

“Swimming is a rite of passage, a crossing of boundaries: the line of the shore, the bank of the river, the edge of the pool, the surface itself. When you enter the water, something like metamorphosis happens. Leaving behind the land, you go through the looking-glass surface and enter a new world, in which survival, not ambition or desire, is the dominant aim.”

“Natural water has always held the magical power to cure.”


“I can dive in with a long face, and what feels like a terminal case of depression, and come out a whistling idiot. There is a feeling of absolute freedom and wildness that comes with the sheer liberation of nakedness as well as weightlessness in natural water, and it leads to a deep bond with the bathing-place.”

“Most of us live in a world where more and more things are signposted, labelled, and officially ‘interpreted’. There is something about all this that is turning the reality of things into virtual reality. It is the reason why walking, cycling and swimming will always be subversive activities. They allow us to regain a sense of what is old and wild in these islands, by getting off the beaten track and breaking free of the official version of things.”

“A swimming journey would give me access to that part of our world which, like darkness, mist, woods or high mountains, still retains most mystery. It would afford me a different perspective on the rest of land-locked humanity.”

Roger Deakin and The Corryvreckan Whirlpool

Roger Deakin travelled to Jura, an isle located off the West coast of Scotland, to discover where George Orwell had written his famous novel 1984. Originally it was to be titled “The Last Man in Europe”, but Eric Arthur Blair (Orwell’s real name), chose the former.

Deakin aimed to swim across the Corryvreckan whirlpool, but thought better of it because he didn’t have a support boat or a guide. Having swum across this whirlpool myself with my brothers, I can say that he made the right decision, as it would be stupid, not brave, to attempt the swim without the safety of a support boat and the local knowledge of an experienced captain.

The Wild Swimming Brothers reaching the other side of the Corryvreckan

The Wild Swimming Brothers reaching the other side of the Corryvreckan

“Whirlpools and wild places are inextricably linked with our capacity for creativity, as Orwell demonstrated when he chose to come to Jura to write his last novel.”

George Orwell writing 1984

George Orwell writing 1984

“Nevertheless, I felt that the whirlpool, in league with the moon, and renewing itself at every tide, could likewise renew the swimmer bold enough to seize the moment and cross it in a moment of repose.”

“An orange sickle of new moon hung above the chimneys in a deep mauve sky. Autumn bonfires glowed in the mist and floated white smoke-rings above it. The beach shone in the gathering dust as the tide fell and the sea grew less perturbed. I turned and swam on into the quiet waves.”

Are there any other quotes by Roger Deakin that you love? Or any wild swimming quotes that move you? Let us know in the comments section below.