The Project

From June 2015 until May 2016, I’ll be swimming 52 lakes in and around Berlin. I’ll be documenting some of my swims on Slow Travel Berlin, while writing a memoir, TURNING, about the year of swimming (to be published by Virago, Berlin Verlag, & Hamish Hamilton Canada).

The rules are: no swimming pools, no wetsuits. All the lakes must be reachable by public transport, bike, or on foot. All must be reasonable distances (i.e. day trips) from central Berlin.

Photography by Amanda Boothroyd, 2015
Photograph by Amanda Boothroyd, 2015

Why am I doing this: I’ve always loved swimming, but until the age of 18, I was terrified of lakes. Growing up in Canada, surrounded by lakes, this was a bit of a problem. Over time, I dipped my toes in and swam a bit, first in Nova Scotia, and then in England, and eventually the terror lifted. Lake swimming taught me how to focus, how to overcome fear, and how to most fully be myself. In Berlin, I found a swimmer’s paradise – and I swam a lot. 52 Lakes is how I’m finding my place in the city, amidst its many lakes and forests.

– Jessica J. Lee

10 thoughts on “The Project

  1. Great project! Next time I am visiting Germany I will follow your recommendations of lakes – will make it easier as I am struggling between my fear of lakes and my admiration of nature and for wild swimming. Thanks! Take care!


  2. Hi Jessica, great projcct! I also recommend these interconnected lakes: Seddinsee, Zeuthener See, Langer Zug and Krossinsee. Easy to get to for example on S-8 from Neukölln to Eichwalde. You might also like the international swim trips offered by swimtrek. com. Happy New Swimming Year! Susanne


  3. Hi Jessica, what about Langer See in Köpenick. The beach Bammelecke has a great view. And even better: it has its own stop on tram line 68 (only served during summer, all quiet now). Looking forward for your book, Robert


  4. Hey Jessica! I love your page! So many insights about Berlin lakes : ) thank you!
    I want to go camping tonite at a lake so your experiences are a good guideline.
    Where are you now? We miss u at Godshot! : )


    1. Hey Simone! I went camping last week at Naturcampingplatz am Roofensee and it was AMAZING. So I highly recommend that.

      I’ve also camped at Springsee, south of the city, and that was pretty good too.
      I’ll pop by the cafe soon! Been working working working. Hope all is well! xx.


  5. Cool! thank you for the tipps! sounds all tempting! will tell u where i went next time!
    looking forward to a catch up in the café! XS


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