Guest Blog: (Re) Learning How To Swim

For our latest blog, Katrina Quinn reflects on the inspiration behind Individual Medley and offers a flavour of what you might expect watching the show. 

Catch Individual Medley on Tuesday 12 March at 9pm as part of Sprint 2019. Click here to find out more.

I dreamed of being an author but anything I wrote never felt complete until it was shared, out loud.

I spent ten years reciting three minute poems behind microphones, but could never stand still.

I had the job I thought I always wanted but spent every morning with “what if, what if, what if” playing through my brain to the beat of Hertfordshire-to-London commuter trains.

I had a story in my bones (like we all do), that wouldn’t let me rest.

I was turning 30 and couldn’t see any light ahead.


I left the job, moved to the sea, and registered a non-existent show to Brighton Fringe, with just the title: Individual Medley.

I’ve always loved to swim. It was the constant rhythm to a childhood of change. I swam in the sea in West Wittering where my grandparents lived. I swam in all of the pools in Basingstoke. I swam in the school team when I moved to Zambia with my family. I swam on camping trips to Lake Malawi and the River Zambezi.

“The Individual Medley is a swimming race, consisting of the four main strokes:
First Butterfly, then Backstroke, then Breaststroke, then Crawl.

The Individual Medley is one of the most challenging events, because it requires you to be the ultimate all-rounder: you must be flexible, focused, and determined; a distance athlete and a sprinter, demonstrating stamina and speed”.

Moving continent aged 12 requires flexibility. Surviving the awkwardness of puberty requires determination. Learning to dance to early 00’s R&B (when the only moves you know are backstroke and frontcrawl) requires focus.

Life can be an Individual Medley.

Creating the show was a dive into old journals and photographs with Aaliyah’s “Try again” accompanying writes and re-writes. It was returning to the pool, listening to the sound of bubbles rushing past ears and then bringing butterfly stroke into the living room. It was slowing down underwater and noticing the way the light dances on the floor.

It was remembering to breathe again, at the right time and in the right places.

Swimming is crossing borders
Existing on the boundary between above and below
Entering, exiting and embracing both
Body and breath in sync
The water as friend and foe
Moving in and out and in between