When I think back to the incredible journeys I’ve undertaken, I can map them out in my memories by wild swims and dips that left me feeling rejuvenated and blissful.
From quick breaks off the bicycle for a snack and a roadside cool-down dip to epic dives off a pontoon hemmed with the scene of a derelict hotel resort. From magical, healing, sulphurous hot springs on snowy mountains, to deep water solo climbing that engulfed me with a fear that kept me gripping to the rock until the last second before I tumbled down to the water below.... Or simply going for a quick dip at the lido.
But, one of my problems with swimming costumes is that there is always something I find uncomfortable. Whether it’s the bit around my bum cutting in too tight and eventually riding up to become a ‘wedgy’ (apparently I’m ‘pear’ shaped) or the bikini bottoms that fall off every time I dive in. For some reason, there is always a part of my body that I feel uncomfortable about in a swimming costume. Since I am at peace and in-love with my lumps and bumps, this I find frustrating. One solution is to swim nude, but this is not always practical! Which leads me to why I’ve been inspired to write about my swimming experiences…
Last week I met with Rosie Cook, a fellow lover of water, splashing, front crawl and wild spots. Rosie is the founder of Deakin & Blue, a swimming costume brand with a few twists. Deakin & Blue’s first twist is that they celebrate bodies of all shapes, sizes and ages. Their sizes account for the flat-chested Hepburn through to the big-busted Hendricks. I was most impressed by the fabric of the costumes, which Rosie describes as ‘sleek and sculpting’. After all, if we are going to trust our swimming costume with our dignity it needs to stay where it is! Deakin & Blue’s imagery, values and connection with their customers says it all. Rosie and her brand want women to feel comfortable and confident walking from the changing room to the swimming pool, sea or lake. This is a brand on a mission to remove barriers to swimming for woman.
The swimming industry is the epitome of ‘fast-fashion’, where women are pressured to have a new swimming costume each season and where costumes are more for show and are, essentially, disposable. Why is it so difficult to find something that looks good, serves it’s purpose and doesn’t waste away from exposure to sun, saltwater or chlorine? The average swimsuit contains a mix of synthetic fibres, essentially plastics. Every time our swimming costumes enter the water they release microplastics, which wreak havoc in marine ecosystems and end up in our seafood. Ultraviolet rays, chlorine and salt all work to weaken fibres making them more prone to breaking and floating off into the sea.
Deakin & Blue are tackling this problem in a way I love! Their swimming costumes are made from recycled and regenerated consumer waste materials, such as spent fishing nets, and this ethic applies to every element of their supply chain, including packaging. This means that they are not introducing any more microplastics into the water and helping to remove these damaging materials from the oceans. These costumes are made to last. They will even repair your cossie for you, meaning you don’t need to buy one every season.
As an organisation, we source environmentally conscious and ethically made gear and in the past we have just had to keep well clear of swimwear. Deakin & Blue’s resourcefulness has meant we can shout loud and clear about our collective love of swimming!
Since Outdoor People are on our own mission to get people outdoors and we love swimming, we thought we’d join forces. We love that Deakin and Blue are removing barriers to swimming just like, with our quality outdoor gear and social projects, we are working to remove barriers to the outdoors. Our Deakin and Blue stock goes live on 24th November and to celebrate, on Thursday 6th December, we will have a Swimming Women meet-up at the London Field Lido followed by a cosy chat with Rosie and the brilliant Ella Foote at our shop in Netil Market. More details to come! And much, much more in the pipeline!