The swimsuit

I love swimming….backstroke at speed, so that I am pumped up, fizzing with blood circulating around my body. No doubt I am flooded with endorphins….:)

And then I like to play, swimming underwater, wrapped in fluid.

Or float, looking up at the open sky. I like the expansiveness of connecting with the limitless sky. it helps me process stuff. And feel part of something much bigger.

Swimming is often described as the closest thing to flying. the feeling of weightlessness and suspension in fluid is both comforting and liberating.

But a swimming pool also teaches children and adults to swim.To become resilient. It acts as a place of recuperation from injury and illness. It helps people keep fit and look after their mental health It is a watering hole for the entire community to enjoy. And I believe a vital resource for a net carbon zero world.

Photograph by David Altheer  © 

Whilst living on one tonne of carbon for a year, I recorded swims in my daily journal, but had difficulty in nailing down the carbon footprint. I still haven’t quite got to the bottom of that

In April of this year, I heard that the London Fields Lido had finally fitted a solar array on top of its large roof.

I first approached the manager Rafal about solar in the Summer of 2015. Rafal then commissioned the carbon trust to do a report. It said that solar thermal panels could heat the pool year round, And pay for itself within a few years. It seemed to be a no brainer.

Many things happened in the interim. Loose tiles in the swimming pool meant a serious a renovation project. The managing company wanted new changing rooms which could accomodate transgender and gender fluidity. Solar would have to wait. But now we can accommodate gender fluidity AND solar energy. It is not solar thermal. it doesn’t heat the pool. But does supply the electric energy required by the lido.

And there are plans to completely abandon the gas boiler (the Olympic sized 50m pool is heated throughout the year ) for renewable ground source heating in the next year.

Photograph by David Altheer  © 

I haven’t bought a new swimsuit for 15 years. Back in the day, Speedo used better materials, rather than the flimsy things on sale now. My Speedo swimsuit has lasted well. But I have been swimming a lot in the new solar powered London Fields lido. It was time for me to upgrade. I tried initially to buy second hand but they are pretty floppy by the time they get discarded. Not really appropriately secure for speedy swimming.

I want to buy quality if new, so I finally settled on a heavily discounted, recycled fabric, Lisa Marie Fernandez swimsuit from So I clicked, paid and ordered, blissfully unaware of the supply chain I was now activating.

When I finally got around to tracking the order, I discovered that although the swimsuit was being sold on a UK website, it was being picked up from Miami! This can mean only one thing (in the 5 days expected delivery date). My swimsuit is being sent by airplane.

The clue was probably in the name doh! but I think this kind of air freighted business model operates on many online fashion outlets.

The high carbon footprint of airfreighted food was something I became very aware of on my year living on one tonne. it is often used for perishable food like Kenyan french beans, Peruvian Asparagus , out of season berries.

But for a swimsuit? A swimsuit is not perishable. Bur fast fashion demands fast delivery. And here is the greenwash that farfetch uses to justify its business model:

So I didn’t return the swimsuit on a return flight to Miami. But I am chastened. I will now be buying local. With transparent supply chains .

Many thanks to David of @LovingDalston for taking the photos.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s