Unexpected pleasures
in Immersion
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This chapter argues that while marathon swimming is commonly understood through the lens of suffering, swimmers are also drawn to it by its potential for intoxicating pleasures. The chapter explores the different kinds of pleasure experienced by marathon swimmers. This challenges conventional sporting narratives of mind over matter, opening the way instead for a more nuanced account that emphasises the process of becoming not only as transforming what the body can do, but also how it feels. The chapter argues that the autotelic pleasures of swimming constitute a form of ‘existential capital’ among swimmers, which can only be known by those within that social world.


Marathon swimming, embodiment and identity


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