Swimming with Care at Windermere


Swimming with Care at Windermere is a funded collaboration between PhD Researcher Taylor Butler-Eldridge and illustrator Bethan Thorsby

This collaboration sparked the co-creation of a small research zine, which illustrates the social, cultural, political, and environmental stories concerning outdoor swimming at Windermere. The stories follow 12 months of Taylor’s immersive ethnographic research in the outdoor swimming communities at the Rayrigg Meadow and Millerground designated public bathing sites between September 2022 – 2023.

Swimming with Care at Windermere

The research forms part of Taylor’s PhD – funded by the University of Exeter (Geography), the Economic and Social Research Council, and the South West Doctoral Training Partnership since September 2021. Taylor’s research featured 40 ‘swim-along’ interviews with different swimmers and dippers, and 60 independent swims, questioning the motivations and responses, both in and out of the water.

Bethan’s local connection to Windermere has provided further insights into the histories and user groups sharing these iconic waters. Bethan grew up (and continues) swimming at Millerground, worked in Lewis’ café (Bowness) for 7 years, and her family has connections to the boats on Windermere. Bethan’s Grandad grew up around the boats and was once a director of the Windermere Lake Cruises. Her Grandmother (now also on the board) moved to Windermere in the ’70s, met her Grandad, and married. Bethan’s Mum, Dad, Auntie, and sisters have all worked on the boats.

Environmental Health Concerns at Windermere

Concerns at Windermere are reimagined by combining Taylor’s research reflections, Bethan’s illustrations, and the stories shared by different swimmers and dippers during the research. The zine also draws upon social and environmental concerns of outdoor swimming more broadly. 

The zine makes reference to notions of care, questioning how swimmers at Windermere might ‘take care’ of themselves, their communities, and these shared yet fragile environments. It shares conflicting accounts of joy, overcoming, tension, and ambivalence, disrupting simplified understandings of well-being and ill-health. 

Zine Quotes

This zine illustrates more opportunities, directions, and questions of care. Specifically, these care-ful reminders advocate for safer outdoor swimming, biosecurity, conservation engagement, critical readership, questioning political powers, and sharing our positive (and negative) experiences.

Care-ful reminders

Taylor and Bethan have invested countless hours, energy, and creativity into this collaboration. This process has been deeply fulfilling, with many texts, revisions, brews, and pizza slices exchanged. Admittedly, it took longer than they had imagined. However, they challenged and supported each other. They formed a friendship through their work and mutual care for these watery spaces.

They both feel emotional that this collaboration is over but hope the zine sparks empathy and advocacy for these shared and fragile freshwaters.

This zine is not an authoritative guideline. Instead, it generates further questions and proactive reminders for current (and potential) swimming communities invested in Windermere. Additionally, this zine offers a thank you and a keepsake for the participants and the supporters. 

So, grab your copy of the zine below, take a read, and let Taylor @swimdermere, and Bethan @sporadicillustration know what you think. 

Thank You.

* The zine has been printed on recycled, uncoated paper.

Grab a Copy

You can download a copy of the research zine below. A limited number of zines were printed. So, if you would like a physical copy, Taylor may be able to source some for you. You can find more of Bethan’s artwork on Instagram @sporadicillustration.

If you have any feedback or queries about the zine, please contact Taylor.

Front Cover

Funded By

University of Exeter Faculty of Environment, Science and Economy

This research zine has been funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, South West Doctoral Training Partnership, and the University of Exeter (Geography)

Get in Touch

For more information about the research, please visit the About Project page.

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