Hold My Breath 

Rachel Bollen

I have really missed swimming this year. As much as dips in lakes, rivers and the sea have given the occasional thrill, for me nothing quite compares to the deep calm I feel submerged beneath the surface of a swimming pool.

I love the feeling of being suspended in water. The outside world muffled and held at bay. Paused. As I swim lengths, practice sculling and generally observe the underwater world. The ripples and light-play projected onto the tiles, the surface viewed from below with fleeting reflections and glimpses of the world above.


It’s peaceful below the water. Just me. Alone in my body.

So, in this year of lockdowns, of public pools closed, and swimming curtailed, I have taken to visualising myself back into these spaces. I have looked to the things available to me: my paints and papers; the camera on my phone and the scanner on the printer from work, currently set up in a makeshift office in my bedroom; my swimming costume and goggles; and my body. I have painted a lot of pictures of myself. I have studied my body, its curves and shadows, its movement. And I have tried to make something that reflects the water-induced meditative state that I so long for.