Stansbie, Lisa (2014) Exploring Bodies in Time and Space: The Performance of the Channel Swimmer: Time-Based Rituals and Technology. In: Exploring Bodies in Time and Space. Interdisciplinary Press, Oxford, UK, pp. 263-272. ISBN 978-1-84888-246-1

There is a philosophy attached to the sporting body that ascertains that the sporting act results in a positive balance within the participants mind. With the process and act of channel swimming, the body moves from this initially ethical position to an aesthetic position that culminates in the spectacle of the enduring act, the swim. While the swim lacks an obvious audience, the performance is documented through time-based means sharing similar processes to the time-based documentation of Performance Art (specifically involving enduring acts). The reception of the channel swimming video is celebrated and disseminated via the global audience of the web as a staged event. During a channel swim the body is in a natural state, free from the technology of enhancing equipment, evidencing the physical capabilities of the swimmer. The repeated and learned practice and behaviours of training techniques such as acclimatisation (habituation) subject the body to extremes and demand that it adapts and becomes a fluid natural body. Magdalinki’s discussion around the physiological body and how processes of bodily changes and adaption have to be earned within sport will be discussed in relation to swimwear rules and how the use of technology (such as wetsuits) is viewed as challenging.

The discussion draws on my 2012 film work Acclimatisation, a short art film documenting the body’s reactions to (cold water) habituation.

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