The Water Slips Over Me Like Cool Silk The Intimacy Of Touch Uninhibited, Rising Around My Legs, Over My Waist, Up To My Collarbone When I Throw Back My Head And Relax, The Lake Runs Into My Ears The Sound Of It Is A Muffled Roar, The Vibration Of The Body Amplified By Water, Every Sound Felt As If In Slow Motion Summer Swimming But Jessica Lee Canadian, Chinese And British Swims Through All Four Seasons And Especially Loves The Winter I Long For The Ice The Sharp Cut Of Freezing Water On My Feet The Immeasurable Black Of The Lake At Its Coldest Swimming Then Means Cold, And Pain, And Elation At The Age Of Twenty Eight, Jessica Lee, Who Grew Up In Canada And Lived In London, Finds Herself In Berlin Alone Lonely, With Lowered Spirits Thanks To Some Family History And A Broken Heart, She Is There, Ostensibly, To Write A Thesis And Though That Is What She Does Daily, What Increasingly Occupies Her Is Swimming So She Makes A Decision That She Believes Will Win Her Back Her Confidence And Independence She Will Swim Fifty Two Of The Lakes Around Berlin, No Matter What The Weather Or Season She Is Aware That This Particular Landscape Is Not Without Its Own Ghosts And HistoryThis Is The Story Of A Beautiful Obsession Of The Thrill Of A Still, Turquoise Lake, Of Cracking The Ice Before Submerging, Of Floating Under Blue Skies, Of Tangled Weeds And Murkiness, Of Cool, Fresh, Spring Swimming Of Facing Past Fears Of Near Drowning And Of Breaking FreeWhen She Completes Her Year Of Swimming Jessica Finds She Has New Strength, And She Has Also Found Friends And Has Gained Some Understanding Of How The Landscape Both Haunts And Holds UsThis Book Is For Everyone Who Loves Swimming, Who Wishes They Could Push Themselves Beyond Caution, Who Understands The Deep Pleasure Of Using Their Body S Strength, Who Knows What It Is To Allow Oneself To Abandon All Thought And Float Home To The Surface


8 thoughts on “Turning: Lessons from Swimming Berlin's Lakes

  1. says:

    Although this is a memoir written with something of an academic slant, it has a great deal of heart and self belief I enjoyed the combination of exploring a new city region the scientific descriptions of lake biology the snapshots of life events and of course the descriptions of entering a new lake for the first time Less a guide book to the lakes of Berlin, this is a meditation on what it truly feels like to slide into the water come rain or shine I found this appealing, despite not being a wild swimmer myself it was particularly nice to read hints that the author sometimes has to get over a fear or anxiety related to open water swimming herself Elsewhere, the method of weaving together narratives past and present was enjoyable Subtle repetitions exist throughout the text which I found comforting and helped illustrate the quest towards achieving the goal of swimming 52 lakes in a year.


  2. says:

    This is a beautiful memoir The author feels depressed and sets herself a challenge to swim in 52 lakes in and around Berlin over the course of a year in the hope of healing a broken heart Swimming becomes a way for her to find a sense of belonging in a new city and gain an understanding of herself The book works well in various ways For example, the author s experiences, memories and feelings are reflected in the landscape and water.During her explorations she encounters the ghosts of Berlin s past as well as her own Musings of other writers and the research of water scientists interweave with the author s story.Water permeates the book cities, countries and continents are linked by their lakes and the author s history Relationships ebb and flow and the memoir shifts from past to present like the stratified layers of a lake.Like Roger Deakin in Waterlog , Jessica J Lee successfully gets under the skin of things , but her story is markedly different Turning is book about lake swimming, loss, resilience, solitude and finding a sense of belonging.


  3. says:

    This is a beautifully written memoir The author sets herself the goal of swimming 52 of the lakes in the countryside around Berlin in a year in order to recover from the dislocations associated with loneliness due to the end of a relationship and building new connections in a new setting Along the way the reader becomes absorbed in her reflections on her personal and family history and on her environmental sciences research on lakes turning refers to the annual cycle of changes in lakes related to the seasons, but also becomes a metaphor for the changes and improvements in the author s emotional and psychological states as she finds the often harsh physical challenges bring satisfaction and self belief.


  4. says:

    I loved this book Jessica J Lee weaves history, ecology, and personal memoir together in a beautiful story about her project to swim 52 of Berlin s lakes in one year One to read especially for anyone interested in wild swimming, lake ecology, or Berlin I found Turning after reading and enjoying Lee s essay in At the Pond Swimming at the Hampstead Ladies Pond, and would really recommend that book as well


  5. says:

    This is a beautifully written, sensitive and intelligent book that follows a young woman through a year of self discovery.


  6. says:

    It took a while to get into the book I found it an easier read when it was tied in with Berlin, especially the East German bits, rather than London or Canada But a good book to add to your swimming shelf.


  7. says:

    I had spotted this title online and thought How interesting I must say I found it a disappointment Despite what some others have said about Lee being aware of the ghosts of the landscape, I sensed a real lack of sensitivity to history here Berlin teems with stories and is freighted and weighted with history but I didn t really find much of that in Turning The focus on her own problems makes the whole thing feel self absorbed And yes, it is very repetitive soon, each lake feels pretty much like any other Initially, Lee wrote about the 52 swims in blog form this may well explain the repetitiveness And it s overwritten the cliche about water on the skin feeling like silk, etc.A successful swimming memoir for me has been Swimming With Seals by Victoria Whitworth memoir, yes, but one which touches on much else besides.


  8. says:

    A fabulously inspiring slow read, perfect for the summer The author writes beautifully despite being someone who doesn t love overly descriptive writing I found this a captivating and thoughtful read She writes about her present, her past and the history geography of the Berlin lakes, flowing gently between time A great debut book, I ll look out for by Jessica L Lee an academically and emotionally intelligent young woman.