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Thursday 12 October 2023

This Weekend: Forty-Seven-Hour Endurance Swim & Art Performance @ Sea Lanes Brighton

A reimagining of Brighton-born swimmer Mercedes Gleitze's record breaking Endurance Swim, carried out at Heene Baths in Worthing in 1933. This weekend Swimming a Long Way Together will create a community swim and performance for the duration of forty-seven hours at Sea Lanes in Brighton, the new national centre for open water swimming.
Credit: Gleitze Archive

Swimming a Long Way Together is a celebratory, ambitious and aquatic project by artist Vanessa Daws, drawing inspiration from 20th century pioneer swimmer Mercedes Gleitze. 

Swimming A Long Way Together has been unfolding as a series of large-scale, multi-disciplinary art events and exhibitions. 

It retells some of the story of Mercedes who undertook many challenging swims in the 1920s and 30s around Britain, Ireland and beyond. 

It also reflects on contemporary experiences of swimming, as a practice of endurance, for wellbeing and as a collective and social pastime.

It was ninety years ago that Mercedes broke the then British Endurance Swim record in Worthing, just down the road from Brighton. 

Thousands of people came to watch this epic feat. 

Mercedes loved music and during the 47 hours musicians, singers and actors performed on the pool deck, creating a festival atmosphere and helping raise her spirits as she swam. 

This was Mercedes' final Endurance Swim, so it is fitting that Swimming a Long Way Together will conclude this phase of the project with this event in Mercedes' home town.

Rather than a solo effort, this event reimagines Mercedes' epic feat as a collective undertaking by the wider swimming community. 

Organised as a relay, the event will ensure that at least one swimmer is present in the pool at all times to keep the relay going. 

During the daytime event swimmers will do lengths of the pool alongside Sea Lanes regular members, but outside of these hours swimming lanes will be removed so that swimmers can swim around the pool in circles as Mercedes did. 

Alongside the 47 hours of swimming there will be a continuous, rolling programme of poolside entertainment performed for the swimming audience. 

These performances include but are not limited to, readings, live music and DJ sets, contemporary performance art and film. Participants in this programme responded to an open call by Fabrica or have been invited by the curatorial team, with both professional and amateur performers from across Sussex and beyond invited to submit an idea. 

The event has so far received a fantastic response from the wider Brighton swimming community, with over 200 swimmers signing up to participate. 

There are still some spaces available for anyone who is able to swim confidently for at least 20 minutes and who wants to be part of this event celebrating Mercedes incredible achievement. Swimming slots can be booked via Fabrica:

by: Mike Cobley


Credit Rachel Sherlock

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