In 1996 the British writer Roger Deakin decided to swim his way around the British Isles, starting the journey from the murky Elizabethan moat on his farm. His chilly adventure had transformative effects. “When you enter the water, something like metamorphosis happens,” he wrote in Waterlog, the 1999 book chronicling his odyssey. In the 21 years since, Waterlog has become something of a bible to proponents of “wild swimming”: an adrenaline-raising trend nudged into popularity by its publication. But why call it “wild”? Perhaps it’s because we’ve domesticated the act and become accustomed to man-made pools. In swimming pools, you can see what lies beneath. But in a river, it’s all left to the imagination, for better or worse. In our sanitized lives, as we contemplate ways of “resisting the attention economy, ” we’re slowly finding our way back into open water with all its unchlorinated possibilities. This story is from Kinfolk Issue Thirty-six Buy Now Related Stories Arts & Culture Issue 47 Alice Sheppard On dance as a channel to commune with the body—even when it hurts. Arts & Culture Issue 47 Dr. Woo Meet the tattoo artist who's inked LA. Arts & Culture Issue 47 Walt Odets The author and clinical psychologist on why self-acceptance is the key to a gay man's well-being. Arts & Culture Fashion Issue 47 A Picture of Health Xiaopeng Yuan photographs the world’s weirdest wellness cures. Arts & Culture Issue 47 Chani Nicholas and Sonya Passi Inside the astrology company on a mission to prove workplace well-being is more than a corporate tagline. Arts & Culture Issue 47 Julia Bainbridge On the life-enhancing potential of not drinking alcohol.