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Taking The Plunge

© David Thompson

Cold water Swimming in Scandinavia and Britain

This on-going project began a few years ago in a very simple way, photographing friends and guests wild swimming on a remote island in Sweden.

I saw something essential in the transformative power of a cold wild swim and I wanted to capture this moment of both vulnerability and strength. So the project developed and was carried with me each summer to the cold rocky Kattegat, to the brackish, reed fringed Baltic, the pristine mountains of Norway, and home to the grassy upper reaches of the Thames. I connected and worked with some local social bathers, and a lone early morning athlete.

I was introduced to Jo Kelly, who throughout the 1980’s was a swimwear model for multiple Elle fashion stories. She is so strong and wonderfully comfortable in her own skin, and a keen open water swimmer and triathlete.
For this type of shoot I like to work in a very paired down, simple way, and to try and portray an authentic, essential form of natural human beauty.

In other images I have tried to give a sense of the gut tingling uncertainty and hesitation at the top of the swimming ladder, before the intensity of the visceral cold caress of nature.

It has occurred to me that my subjects emerged from the cold dark water as we do from the warm dark womb - wet and exhilarated, re-invigorated and reborn. Heart beating - never more alive than in that moment!

click to view the complete set of images in the archive

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