The Ethics of Apprenticing with Youth Swimmers

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


As ethnographers our own bodies are the tool with which we approach and record our experiences in the field. Additionally, we frantically scribble down unfolding scenes in notebooks and attempt to record the action on phones or cameras, much as our interlocutors do. The images we capture can often convey the dynamism and subtleties of enskilled movements in embodied practices easing in both the interpretation and communication of bodily activities. With the body being on full display in competitive swimming contexts – albeit at times partially concealed by water – the recording of how and what the body does can be problematic, despite the fact that images and video would seem ideal ways of communicating the bodily experiences of youth swimmers. Yet swimwear is revealing of the body and recording images, especially of youth, necessitates heightened scrutiny for shared images in the digital sphere are available for archiving and reproduction by any member of a group or “friend” who has access to those images on social media platforms. Informed and ongoing consent to capture and use images, and participate in youth’s sporting settings, requires that we consider our use and distribution of images and what purposes our interlocutors might want of and for those images. In this paper I present the struggles of engaging in participant observation with youth swimmers in the UK, the perceived and physical barriers of embodied research and the moral and ethical conundrum of digitally recording their and my own journey.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages6
Publication statusPublished - 30 Mar 2021
EventEthics of body movements: Scrutinising ethics of sports, martial arts and dance research: Association of Social Anthropologists of the UK Annual Conference 2021 - ASA2021: Responsibility - St. Andrews University, St. Andrews, United Kingdom
Duration: 29 Mar 20211 Apr 2021


ConferenceEthics of body movements: Scrutinising ethics of sports, martial arts and dance research
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
CitySt. Andrews
Internet address


  • apprenticeship
  • embodiment
  • ethics
  • swimming
  • sport


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