Updated: Jan 4, 2022
I talked with Anette Frisch about life, work, swimming, the future and the past and it became a podcast. We recorded it when the COVID-19 future looked less certain than it does now. The future – ‘it will come’. Life as normal - ‘It will come’. Anette’s swimming life has been on pandemic pause, and there is air of melancholy to the conversation we have which lights up, glistens, when we talk about outdoor swimming pools and their very special resonance. Anette Frisch lives in Germany, in Dusseldorf, to be more precise. She swims in pools and the ocean, but mostly she is a pool swimmer, one that swims crawl because breaststroke is too slow for her. Which is not to say she is in a hurry. She is not; she is one of the most mindful swimmers I know, and this podcast very much became about exactly that – mindful swimming. It wasn’t planned that way, it just happened. Which is part of the magic of mindful swimming – it just happens.
Right now, I am swimming in an outdoor pool, Hinksey, in Oxford, a place I choose to call the Oxford Lido, although that is not its name. I have been hospitalised by leptospirosis and now I am back, but dare not yet to swim in open water other than the ocean, while I recover. Only now I am doing old-man breaststroke while I recover across the coming month of two. Today the season showed its first change toward winter, at the end of September, with autumn leaves on the blue water, at the end of the swimming season here. It has been blue and cheerful, especially so in the previous weeks in the sunlight of this Indian summer that the UK has had– a late burst of warm and sunny weather to try to keep things cheerful. Today, however, the pool is just starting to carry a feint melancholy air, as summertime swimmers at Hinksey are starting to say ‘what will we do when it closes?’ I am at a loss as to what to say – ‘Just go to the river?’ Well. I might say that, but right now I am avoiding any possible contact with water that might carry infection. I mentioned this to one of the attendants at Hinksey, and this was like opening a door to outrage. He cannot understand how the government can allow dumping of waste and sewage into the rivers in the UK. How could I disagree with him? Hinksey Pool /the Oxford Lido closes at the end of September, this Thursday to be exact, and I am not certain where I will swim after that. And so the melancholy air prevails.
At the time of recording, Anette was herself a land animal, so the longing for swimming (sehnsucht, in German) sits in the background of our conversation. We talk about how she likes to swim – often in an outdoor pool, as if in a tank of solitude, just herself, her body and the water, and silence as far as is possible. This is how she swims most days, when she swims. I have my ‘tank of solitude’ days too, I say. But after swimming, she watches, poolside, the people and stares at the rippling shimmering water. In her day work she is journalist and conceptual designer. As a former record dealer she is deeply into music, especially jazz, her mood-music for swimming.
She is passionate about swimming, and her website blog ‘bahnenziehen.de’ captures this well. Her writing is eloquent, beautiful, and she captures some of the many stories that people have of the water, of swimming, of places to swim, of swimming moods, captures them before they evaporate. In this podcast, I try to capture Anette’s story before it evaporates. And because music is so important to her, it is inevitable that it sneaks into the podcast. She is thoughtful, smart, quiet-spoken, someone who speaks so well about the specialness of swimming for humans. I hope to like the podcast.
Listen to the podcast here