Earlier this week we caught up with Calum Hudson, the middle of the trio also known as the Wild Swimming Brothers (see their website here) a few months after we’d enjoyed a very entertaining photoshoot in our Bowler & Beach swim shorts at King’s Cross Pond. Here’s our popular format, 10 questions in 10 minutes, with the middle brother Calum.
[Bowler & Beach] What have you been up to since the Bowler & Beach photoshoot?
[Calum] Since the photoshoot we celebrated all being together again with a few beers and a BBQ, Jack’s since returned to the cold waters of the North Sea off Newcastle, Robbie has been diving into the lakes of Berlin and I’ve been back to my favourite outdoor pool, Brockwell Lido in London. Oh, and I completed a double Ironman, the Continuous Double Enduroman. We’ve also been pouring over maps, charts and researching Orca pod’s hunting behaviour for our next swim…
What inspired you to use swimming to promote conservation, the environment and re-wilding?
We’ve swam outside ever since we were children, it didn’t have a name and wasn’t a “thing” it was just something you did. Through that we grew up amongst the natural world and were fed a healthy diet of Attenborough documentaries, Just So Stories and Jacque Cousteau and his boat The Calypso. This lead to a love of the natural world and we feel that wild swimming is such an inclusive, immersive and simple activity that everyone can easily experience nature on its own terms. If through wild swimming we can bring even just one person to a closer relationship with nature then that’s inherently a good thing.
Tell us something about you that not many people know…
We were all born in fields…. Robbie in Warmfield, me in Wakefield and Jack in Huddersfield, oh and I have a phobia of cows, life growing up in Cumbria was challenging to say the least haha!
What’s been your most challenging adventure yet?
Our most challenging adventure to date has to be our swim of The River Eden. This was a 90 mile, 9 day source to sea river swim. 10 miles a day is a long way in cold water and even longer at 7.00am morning after morning after a cold damp sleep in a tent. This adventure really pushed us to our limits, Jack finished with broken and battered ankles, Robbie’s feet had drastically swollen and I spent the last 2 days with my head duct-taped and bandaged together after a serious parasitic ear infection threatened to derail the expedition. If it wasn’t for our support crew and the local community we wouldn’t have pulled through the challenge – not one for the faint-hearted!
Do you guys have a party trick?
Jack can recite every single word of Maximus’s speech in Gladiator where he removes his helmet and reveals himself to Commodus, that’s always a crowd pleaser!
Who tells the best joke and what is it?
I’ll take the lead on this…
Q: Why do squirrels swim on their back?
A: To keep their nuts dry!
What is your favourite place to go open water swimming?
Lacy Caves, The River Eden in Cumbria, England. We grew up swimming along the Eden, it’s waters flowed past the bottom of our garden and after school we’d race down to the waters’ edge and leap in. Lacy Caves was the ancient cave system next to the river, with numerous rocky ledges to leap off into the river below, including the legendary “Tower” to leap off into the cool water below.
What three items would you take with you if you were marooned on a desert island? (Obviously you’d have your Bowler & Beach swim shorts!)
Obviously we’d have our Bowler & Beach swim shorts haha! I think the three items we’d take would be a paint set for Robbie as he’s a keen painter and abstract artist and would while away the hours sketching the island. For Jack it would have to be a pen and pad as he’s been writing ever since he first learnt; he could keep a journal, chart our exploits and keep stock of our coconut supply. For me it would have to be a snorkel and flippers, I’d head off to escape from Robbie’s endless art and Jacks spontaneous prose and dive beneath the waves into the aquamarine world.
Which three famous people would you like to bring along to one of your adventures?
Sir David Attenborough would be number one, if just to narrate our journey, bring life to the flora and fauna and read us bedtime stories. The second would have to be Lynne Cox the ice swimmer, a true legend and arguably the greatest swimmer of all time; she would be the calm and confident voice in the corner willing us on. The third isn’t famous and maybe slightly cheating but we’d love to take both our Grandmas on one of our swimming adventures, our Grandma Martin sailed across the Atlantic three times in a tiny 2 person boat and our Grandma Wild roamed the wild Scottish Highlands hacking at bracken and could beat us in an arm wrestle into our teens. We’d love to take them on one of our swimming adventures as no one would fight our corner more vehemently or believe in us more.
What is your favourite quote?
“Rest and be thankful” – The Wild Lady of Lochbroom, our Grandma Wild’s saying. She was the hardest, toughest, happiest and most positive person you could ever meet and this quote was carved into the wood above her hearth. It will only make sense when you’re deeply physically and mentally exhausted and have pushed yourself as far as you can go, you have to earn the right for it to make sense.
What are each of your favourite Bowler & Beach Animal styles?
Jack – The loyal, stoic Seahorse, the super parent of the sea and a fascinating alien-like animal, beautiful and otherworldly at the same time.
Calum – Mine would have to be the Stag, it’s the emblem emblazoned across my kilt and our mum used to tell us stories of her deer-stalking with her dad in the Highlands.
Robbie – Rob’s favourite are the Swallows, the understated journeyman, quiet adventurer and visitor of 6 continents!
Where will you be wearing your Bowler & Beach swim shorts this summer?
This summer we’ll be wearing the swim shorts all over the world. Jack will be parading up and down the pristine white beaches of the Philippines, Robbie will be sunning himself in the emerald green lakes of East Germany and I’ll be wearing them on the surf swept beaches of Indonesia. All three of us will be taking our shorts for Bowler & Beach’s first foray above the Arctic Circle as well. We’re launching our 2016 “Into the Maelstrom” expedition in August, this will take us to Bodo and the majestic Lofoten islands of Arctic Norway.
If you could have a superpower what would it be?
Definitely the power to speak to animals, I think if we could speak to the wise old Orangutan whose forests we burn down, if we could listen to the ancient matriarch of a herd of Elephants that we hunt for ivory or sit and listen to the elusive and mystical Snow Leopard whose habitat we destroy then our attitude and relationship with the natural world would dramatically change. It would give a voice to a very one sided debate and remind us that we’re just one amongst millions of animals with which we share the planet.
Stay up to date with the Hudson brothers’ amazing adventures, and their upcoming and incredibly exciting – not to mention pioneering – adventure to Norway later this summer here. They also very kindly wrote a blog about our brotherly adventures with them in the chilly but very cool Kings Cross pond – read it here – cheers boys and we’d like to wish them all the best this summer!
We’d also like to say a big thank you to Upstart Photography for the photoshoot!