BOOK: Wild Woman Swimming

You can pre-order Wild Woman Swimming now for delivery in September, and be among it first readers.

Devon paramedic Lynne Roper began swimming outdoors in 2011 while recovering from a double mastectomy. Warm, funny and fearless, she was soon at the heart of The Outdoor Swimming Society, inspiring others to swim wild, ‘read water’ and take educated risks as she did.

For five years, until a brain tumour made swimming and writing impossibly hard, Lynne recorded her adventures in over sixty wild waters. Bel Pool, Mel Tor, Sharrah, Spitchwick, Horseshoe Falls, Fingle Bridge, Bugle Hole, Burgh Island: Like a swimmer’s version of the Shipping Forecast, Lynne tracks through the seasons places few know and less brave — freezing pools in hollowed-out Dartmor tors, sea caves stuck about with Dead Men’s Fingers, rivers in full spate where bouyancy is lost suddenly in froth and bubbles:

‘Foam maps the movement of water in Sharrah pool, and there’s an eddy I haven’t seen before on the far side; the current from the cascade reaches three-quarters of the way down, and circles in a spiral back up the far bank, like stirred coffee. Usually, there are rock-studded shallows at the lower end of the pool where you drift gently aground before the river is forced in a rapid through the narrows, but today the surge completely covers the rocks and there’s a real danger of being swept over. No swimmer would survive that trip…’

By turns lyrical and adrenalin-fuelled, solitary and communal, her diaries are a celebration of Dartmoor, the Devon coast and the close-knit communities that grow from shared endeavour.

This is a book for outdoor swimmers, nature lovers and all who prize the wild and free.


Edited by Tanya Shadrick as a Selkie Press book with a preface by Jenny Landreth (author of Swell: A Waterbiography) and an introduction by Sophie Pierce (Wild Swimming Walks Dartmoor and South Devon).

First extracts from Lynne’s diaries – ‘Spitchwick’, ‘Sharrah’ and ‘Thurlestone Rock’ – are available in Watermarks: Writing by Lido Lovers & Wild Swimmers (Frogmore Press, 2017)

Lynne’s obituary appeared in The Guardian (August 2016)

For news and regular extracts follow @wildwomanswims on Twitter


“A month in to my Wild Patience, I was sighted by visionary wild swimmer and OSS press officer Lynne ‘Rivers’ Roper. She was drawn first by a scroll extract I’d posted describing my girlhood’s glorious sense of self-sovereignty got from the wild Cornish sea…Soon afterwards, she read of my hospice lifestory work and revealed her terminal diagnosis for brain cancer: Would I come to the West Country and swim in her beloved Sharrah pool? And could we talk frankly as two women who’d each been drawn to water after life-threatening illness? Work together on finding a wider audience for her swim writing after her death? Yes.” Tanya Shadrick, A Wild Patience (Outdoor Swimming Society, 2017)