This chapter explores the ways in which pain, injury and the failure to complete a long swim are experienced and accounted for in marathon swimming, and asks what this means for our understandings of what counts as the healthy body. It argues that rather than constituting mutually exclusive, zero-sum categories, health and injury, and bodily success and failure, are determined by the extent to which they can be aligned with normative social world values of autonomy, bodily discipline and self-reflexivity, rather than demonstrable levels of sporting accomplishment. This highlights the provisionality of the normative linking of health and physical activity, and the failure of utilitarian notions of health to account for the sustained engagement with marathon swimming.
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