If you've often fancied the idea of becoming a swimmer but have found yourself less than enthusiastic when faced with the realities of a chilly chlorine scented pool, Alexandra Heminsley's latest book, Leap In, may be just the inspiration you need. Heminsley wasn't a swimmer but overcame her fear of water and learned not only how to swim, but also how to enjoy swimming outdoors in choppy seas, cold rivers and dark tarns. It's her honesty about the struggles to get over her concerns and her beautiful writing which make this such an engaging book.
As a reader, you can really feel for her in some of the scenes, for example when she is trying to squeeze her sweating body into a wetsuit for the first time and her anxiety about her bare feet squishing into the mud when she takes part in a river swim.
Leap In is about pushing yourself, about facing up to difficulties - and we learn half way through the book that Heminsley is going through fertility problems and IVF as she continues her swimming journey. At that point, her battles to get beyond her fears have an undercurrent of a more fundamental challenge.
By the end of the book, the outcome of her fertility problems is still uncertain, and she says she doesn't know if she will ever have a child, or even the strength to try IVF again, but she has become a real swimmer with a love of outdoor water and challenges. She encourages her readers to Leap In to life as participants rather than sitting on the sidelines as spectators, she says that we should not give in to our fear of the unknown and must be courageous when we need to adapt of amend our plans and discover our inner strength and resilience.
Alexandra Heminsley's first book, Running Like a Girl, was a source of inspiration to many women who didn't see themselves as sporty and couldn't ever envisage themselves running for enjoyment but found strength and the courage to try in her story. Leap In is set to do the same thing for swimming!
Leap In is published by Hutchinson