"I've always been drawn to water. Maybe it's all the fun it's given me, all the adventures. Perhaps it's how I feel when I'm in it – I feel free."
Robson Green undertakes an aquatic journey through the wild waters of Britain in this new two part documentary series for ITV1.
From a decidedly shaky start in the Tyne to his ultimate goal to swim to Holy Island off the coast of his native North East, the programme charts Robson's adventures as he swims his way through lidos, tidal pools, lakes, rivers and seas. The journey is at times an emotional one as Robson talks about his late father who instilled his love of swimming in his son, and it is this memory that keeps Robson going during some of the extreme swims he attempts.
He tells the programme that the recent loss of his father has inspired him to attempt to swim to Holy Island. For Robson, the challenge is about reconnecting with his father, who regularly swam in the North Sea, and his own boyhood identity.
Come rain or shine four million people swim in Britain's wild waters every year and during his journey Robson meets many interesting characters who have left the chlorine of swimming pools behind for natural waters. From the tranquillity of Britain's lidos and tidal pools to Scotland's daunting Corryvreckan whirlpool and the extreme cold of Llynn Lladraw Lake in Snowdonia, Robson challenges himself mentally and physically during his wild swimming adventure.
Production Manager - Carolyn Carter.
Producer - Emma Robertson ::
Series producer - Southan Morris.
Executive Producers - Clive Tulloh and Sandra Jobling.
Robson Green's Wild Swimming Adventure is a Coastal Productions and
Tiger Aspect production for ITV1.
Tuesday 8th December, 2009
Robson Green starts his wild swimming adventure in the river that dominated the area where he was raised – the Tyne. He says: "If I'm going to swim around Britain I want to start at home."
But his attempt ends abruptly when he gets into difficulties and has to be rescued by a lifeboat. He says: "Well it wasn't the best of starts. My body shut down after 200 metres. The temperature saps you. I asked the lifeboat guys when was the last time anyone swam in here. He said, 'Friday night, but they were absolutely off their heads!' No one of sane mind has swum the Tyne in the past 50 years. But it's woken me up and now I'm ready."
Read more about Part 1
Tuesday 15th December, 2009
Keen to get a few more 'pleasant paddles' under his belt before things get serious, Robson Green travels to Cambridge where he meets Jordan Savage and Gloria Dawson – both committed wild swimmers. They take Robson swimming at Grantchester Meadows, which is described as 'the most beautiful place to swim in Cambridge'. Robson then has a lone swim in the River Cam in the middle of a torrential thunderstorm that he joyfully describes as the "bonniest sight!"
Robson travels to Dover to meet Freda Streeter, also known as 'the general'. Freda has trained hundreds of cross channel swimmers and Robson joins a group of her students for a swim across Dover Harbour. He insists on wearing his wetsuit – which Freda describes as a 'wimp' suit.
Read more about Part 2
Robson Green on his Wild Swimming Adventure
Robson tells us about the highs and lows of his recent adventures...
What started out as a travelogue celebrating the beautiful, idyllic and undiscovered parts of Britain, using the self propelled mode of transport known as wild swimming, turned out to be one of the most worthwhile and profound experiences of my life. It was also the first time I didn't have to fake it in front of the lens.
It also became a voyage of overcoming self doubt, reclaiming one's identity, commitment, the importance of home and of course family. A notion that many people watching will share. I ventured so far outside my comfort zone during the filming of this story but in a strange and ironic way it brought me back to the comfort of my own home.
During filming so much imagery started to present itself and began to remind me of the happy times I use to spend with Mum and Dad on holiday (which was always near water; be it alongside rivers, lakes or oceans) and realising it was one of the a rare occasions when work and money worries didn't have to be the main topic of conversation.
My father taught me to swim. His teaching methods were simple, but effective. He hurled me into the North Sea at the age of seven and then took great satisfaction at watching me thrashing the water to a froth. However, the method worked! Just to give you an idea of the temperature of this stretch of water just up the road as the crow flies is the Arctic Ocean! Ten degree water tends to focus the mind and I took off like a motor boat towards the shoreline.
What draws us to water? Whether I'm fishing, floating or swimming in a river I am happy. Mainly I am someone who likes to have fun. All my memories connected to rivers, lakes and oceans are happy ones. The older I get the more fun I have, the more I enjoy life and the more I learn about myself.
The Holy Island swim was all about climate and conditions and who better to lower ones temperature with other than the ice bear himself, the Indiana Jones of wild swimming Lewis Gordon Pugh. If I thought the river Tyne was cold think again Robson! I was about to enter the world of Extreme Wild Swimming. During my journey Lewis Pugh was a person that really stood out for me. He prepared me psychologically for something that was way outside my comfort zone. His introduction to the notion of committing to an objective, becoming unstoppable and reaching that objective was life changing.
There was no swim I couldn't do after meeting Lewis because anything is possible if you COMMIT!!
It seems the link between Lewis and I is that we want to swim where no one else had swum before, a major reason why I wanted to do the Holy Island swim. There must be a fear factor involved. Someone told me that there are two types of people who think swimming in freezing temperatures isn't dangerous and they are fools and liars.
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