School of Sport and Health Sciences

Sean Heath swimming

PhD graduate reflects on Norwegian research visit

Nord Uni logoUniversity of Brighton research student Sean Heath chats to us about his time as a visiting researcher at Nord University.

Sean has recently completed his PhD and is a member of our Centre for Spatial, Environmental and Cultural Politics and Sport and Leisure Cultures Research and Enterprise Group. Sean specialises in the body, movement, the senses, and human-water interactions and has conducted research with competitive swimmers in Canada and the UK.

Sean Heath“Dr. Anne Tjønndal, Head of the Leadership and Innovation Division and Sport and Societies Research Group at Nord University invited me over to deliver a series of lectures for the research group and the Faculty of Social Sciences. Anne had previously delivered a series of seminars and guest lectures at Brighton so my visit was in the spirit of deepening the relationship between our two research groups as well as an extension of our respective universities’ institutional networks.

“The first seminar was titled Ethical Encounters in Embodied Research: The Ethics of Apprenticeship in competitive Swimming. I highlighted some of the ethical ambiguities and conundrums in research in swimming, while drawing on other sporting, dance, and martial arts examples.

“The second seminar, was titled Sensing Immersion: The Tactile, social, and affective dimensions of becoming a competitive swimmer. In this seminar I argued that youth’s tactile senses are intricately intertwined with their emotions and moods which in turn effect the ways in which they perceive their physical immersion in water. The tactility of sensuous immersion feeds an emotional necessity that provides for the well-being of the youth swimmers.

“While in Bodø I was able to partake in friluftsliv activities and get a sense of the cultural focus on outdoor activities. This included hiking and cold-water swimming. Friluftsliv is a Norwegian cultural concept denoting an embodied philosophy of being-in-the-world in relation to the outdoors, recreation, leisure, nature stewardship, and wellbeing.It incorporates a respect and stewardship for the natural environment with an understanding that there is a human necessity to play.

“As part of developing further institutional connections with Nord University I took the opportunity to assist on a fieldtrip with the Extreme Environments education cohort, lead by Dr Dagmar Dahly. An avid ice-swimmer herself, Dagmar and I have begun collaborating on broader questions about access, inclusion, health, and the sensory experiences of cold-water swimming. While I have gone cold-water swimming before, this cold-water immersion was the coldest I, and most of the students, had experienced before. As the numbers of people trying out outdoor swimming increases looking at safety, access, inclusion, health, and community in these practices and amongst these groups becomes ever more important.

“In the future I hope to be able to return to Nord University, Bodø, Norway to further examine the confluences of cold-water swimming and friluftsliv activities.”

Learn more about becoming a research student at Brighton.

Nord University in the snow

Kerry Burnett • 28/11/2022

Previous Post

Next Post

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published / Required fields are marked *

Skip to toolbar