“It’s 5 o’clock in the morning and you’re just on fire”: Exploring embodied experiences in competitive swimming

McNarry, Gareth (2019) “It’s 5 o’clock in the morning and you’re just on fire”: Exploring embodied experiences in competitive swimming. PhD thesis, University of Lincoln.

“It’s 5 o’clock in the morning and you’re just on fire”: Exploring embodied experiences in competitive swimming
Gareth McNarry Doctoral thesis.pdf - Whole Document

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Item Status:Live Archive


In recent years sporting embodiment has attracted an increasing level of academic
attention, including a burgeoning sociological corpus that draws influence from the
existential phenomenology of Maurice Merleau-Ponty. This combination of
phenomenology and sociology provides a powerful framework from which to examine
sporting embodiment, and challenges many taken-for granted assumptions and
presuppositions regarding the often underexplored, undertheorized ‘mundane’ elements
of our sporting experience.

Swimming is one physical culture where embodied experiences have been shown to be
core elements of recreational or leisure swimming. Studies that examine the embodied
experiences of competitive swimming, however, remain sparse, and tend to be limited to
critical sociological examinations of gendered relationships or training regimes, which
often overlook the intense embodied experiences of training and competing. Utilising
ethnographic methods of participant observation, conducted across three, five-week
immersions, and 19 individual and three group interviews with senior performance
swimmers, this study develops a richer and deeper understanding of the competitive
swimming lifeworld and how a swimmer’s embodied experiences contribute
fundamentally to the construction of this lifeworld.

The study aims were achieved by addressing five key themes generated from the data. The
first, ‘Becoming and Remaining’, focuses on the swimmers’ motivations for entering and
remaining within the aquatic lifeworld. The second, ‘Doing Competitive Swimming’,
presents the different ways in which the swimming body is central to the ‘doing’ of
competitive swimming. The third, ‘The Shifted Swimming Sensorium’ describes the variety
of sensory experiences that make up the swimmers’ sensory stock of knowledge. The
fourth, ‘Discomfort, Pain and Enduring’ examines the various painful experiences within
the swimming lifeworld and how swimmers come to understand and endure these. The
fifth and final theme, ‘The Intersubjective and Intercorporeal Competitive Swimming
Lifeworld’, challenges the notion of swimming as an individual sport highlighting the shared
and intercorporeal moments that emphasis the social nature of competitive swimming.

Keywords:Sociology, Phenomenology, Sociological phenomenology, Sporting embodiment, Sociology of embodiment, Performance swimming, The senses
Subjects:C Biological Sciences > C600 Sports Science
L Social studies > L300 Sociology
Divisions:College of Social Science > School of Sport and Exercise Science
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ID Code:42975
Deposited On:16 Nov 2020 10:14

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