A Swimmer’s Journey through Britain

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“Like swimming through Alice’s Wonderland.” —Lynne Cox

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.

A masterpiece of nature writing, Roger Deakin’s Waterlog is a fascinating and inspiring journey into the aquatic world that surrounds us.

In an attempt to discover his island nation from a new perspective, Roger Deakin embarks from his home in Suffolk to swim Britain—the seas, rivers, lakes, ponds, pools, streams, lochs, moats, and quarries. Through the watery capillary network that braids itself throughout the country, Deakin immerses himself in the natural habitats of fish, amphibians, mammals, and birds. And as he navigates towns, private property, and sometimes dangerous waters and inclement weather, Deakin finds himself in precarious situations: he’s detained by bailiffs in Winchester, intercepted by the coast guard at the mouth of a river, and mistaken for a dead body on a beach. The result of this surprising journey is a deep dive into modern Britain, especially its wild places.

With enchanting descriptions of natural landscapes, and a deep well of humanity, boundless humor, and unbridled joy, Deakin beckons us to wilder waters and inspires us to connect to the larger world in a most unexpected way. Thrilling, vivid, and lyrical, Waterlog is a fully immersive adventure—a remarkable personal quest, a bold assertion of the swimmer’s right to roam, and an unforgettable celebration of the magic of water.


  • “A beautiful ode to the act of swimming outdoors. . . . Through ecstatic and exacting descriptions of his many swims, Deakin introduces the reader both to the pleasures of outdoor swimming and to the richness of the natural landscape. . . . Deakin’s insistence on wild swimming for all is really an insistence on a better ecosystem for all.”

    The Atlantic

  • “Sublime. . . . His swim isn’t just about moving, but about, literally and ecstatically, being moved.”

    The Cut

  • “[Waterlog] might be the most romantic swimming memoir ever written. Its spirit, and the way it illuminates the joy and complexity of water, of swimming in the wild, places it next to Thoreau’s Walden. As Thoreau ‘went to the woods,’ Deakin went into the water.”

    Harper's Magazine

  • “His prose is sensuous. . . . and his sense of humor is as dry as his theme is wet.”

    —Rebecca Mead, The New Yorker

  • “Roger Deakin is a latter-day Thoreau.”

    —Robert Macfarlane, author of Underland

  • Waterlog is an adventure, a meditation, a celebration of wild swimming—a delight. In this book, Roger Deakin has captured the magic of the liquid world.”

    —Susan Casey, author of The Wave

  • “Extraordinary.”

    —Olivia Laing, The Guardian

  • “Roger Deakin is the perfect companion for an invigorating armchair swim. Engaging, thoughtful, and candid.”

    The Telegraph

  • “Part amphibious adventure memoir and part right to roam manifesto, beneath Waterlog’s delightful quirk lies a serious treatise on public access and the belief that swimming is intrinsically transformative. . . . Sublimely subversive reading of the highest order.”

    Adventure Journal

  • “A classic ode to wild swimming.”

    Outside Magazine

  • “[A] beautiful meditation on swimming in nature. . . . He writes with sensitivity and a great appreciation for the world around him.”


  • “The foundational text for the international ‘wild swimming’ movement. . . . A beautifully written, loving tribute to the wonders found swimming in the wild outdoors.”

    Kirkus, Starred Review