From ‘just a swimmer’ to a ‘swimming mother’: women’s embodied experiences of recreational aquatic activity with pre-school children

  • A.B. Evans, J. Allen-Collinson
  • Leisure Studies, September 2014, Taylor & Francis
  • DOI: 10.1080/02614367.2014.962593

Mothers' swimming with their pre-school children - changing body perceptions

What is it about?

To date, little attention has been paid to how women experience swimming and aquatic leisure activity, the second most popular form of leisure activity in the UK. This paper presents results from research investigating the aquatic leisure experiences of 22 women, with children aged under 3, in the North-East of England. A number of key themes emerged from the study. Women reflected upon their self-perceived physical deficiencies when wearing revealing swimming costumes, particularly under the critical gaze of ‘other’ bodies. The women's perceived maternal responsibilities included the management of risks, including ‘dirt’ and ‘germs’ and the negotiation of the tacit rules of the swimming pool. Results also suggest that the emphasis on maternal responsibility in aquatic leisure activity and timing of parent-toddler sessions could lead to reproduction of gender inequalities and the exclusion of some fathers from participation.

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The following have contributed to this page: Professor Jacquelyn Allen-Collinson