This chapter explores the ways in which marathon swimming is gendered. It argues that in spite of an apolitical gloss which erases social differences in the interests of being ‘all swimmers together’, gender seeps through the gaps. This is visible through the strategic foregrounding of the gendered body, either to account for female high performance or through the refusal to embrace the fleshy realities of female embodiment. The chapter also explores the ways in which social context, roles and expectations impact upon women’s ability to participate in the sport, highlighting the importance of placing sporting practice in its wider social and cultural context. The chapter argues that this is never simply a narrative of oppression and constraint, but that women also resisted gender norms and carved novel modes of embodiment in their engagement with marathon swimming.
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