Ambassador of Books ~ Book Club Madam ~ Blogger Gal

Thursday, December 17, 2009

My Favorite Reads: Swimming to Antarctica


Today I'd like to tell you about Swimming to Antarctica: Tales of a Long-Distance Swimmer, by Lynne Cox.
It is August 7, 1987, and I am swimming across the Bering Sea. I am somewhere near – or across – the U.S.-Soviet border. The water stings. It’s icy cold. My face feels as if it has been shot full of novocaine and it’s separating from my skull. It’s as if I’m swimming naked into a blizzard. My hands are numb, and they ache deep down through the bone. I can’t tell if they are pulling any water. They feel as though they are becoming detached from my body. I look down at them through the ash-colored water: they are splotchy and bluish white; they are the hands of a dead person. I take a tight, nervous breath. Suddenly it occurs to me that my life is escaping through my hands.
That is the very first sentence of the book - way to get the reader's attention, no? I read this book a few years ago, I think just before I started blogging, and I still remember parts of it very, VERY clearly.

I'm not into sports memoirs but I do have a fascination with the Polar regions, which is why I picked up this book. Lynne is an open-water, long-distance swimmer who has a "thing" for swimming in extremely cold water. It is simply amazing the things that she puts her body through BY CHOICE; I can't imagine being FORCED to do those things, letting alone volunteering.

The book chronicles her swimming career from the age of 9 when she chooses to stay in the freezing pool to swim while her teammates opt for 2 hours of calisthenics out of the water. Her first open water swim was from the San Diego shoreline over to Catalina Island; if I recall, she was a young teen at the time.

I found this book utterly fascinating. I loved reading about Lynne's training, her reasons for swimming, the research on hypothermia she helped with, and the amazing swims she completed. I'm definitely NOT inspired to do anything like this myself, but I loved reading about it all the same, and I think many of you would enjoy it as well.



My Favorite Reads is hosted by At Home With Books every Thursday. If you'd like to share a book that you read pre-blogging, please join in!

15 comments:

softdrink said...

The only thing I can think about is WHY??? Why would anyone want to be that cold?!?

hcmurdoch said...

I REALLY enjoyed this book when I read it last year and have passed it on to colleagues and students who have also all like it. Great read! And, so inspiring.

Heather J. said...

softdrink - I know, right?! But it is a fascinating book nonetheless.

hcmurdoch - So glad to find someone else who has read it!

bermudaonion said...

This sounds like a book I would love. I can't imagine swimming in water like that!

Dreamybee said...

That sounds fascinating/horrifying!

Kailana said...

Sounds good. I will have to look into it. :)

Alyce said...

This book sounds great! I love memoirs.

Sorry my post wasn't up earlier today (it's up now). I've been so busy (and away from the computer) that I didn't realize that it was Thursday. Which is ridiculous, because I did all of my other normal Thursday things today. This crazy holiday season has been so busy though, and I'm sure that's why I forgot. :)

My past two days were packed with a doctor's appointment for my son, a Christmas concert, teaching flute lessons, and basketball practice, all while my husband was on the road. Thank goodness he's home now!

Heather J. said...

bermudaonion, Dreamybee, and Kailana - You all should definitely read it - I think you'd really like it!

Alyce - No worries! I figured it was either a busy day or you were taking a week off. :) Glad your husband is back home now!

blackwatertown said...

It's an opening that grabs you.
The thought of living it is horrible - though with triathletes and an Iron Man in the family, I know (mad) people who live it to some extent.

Ryan G said...

I'm always fascianted by open water swimming. I have mad respect for those who do it so I'm going to have to check this book out.

Heather J. said...

blackwatertown - "horrible" is right! but the book is really good.

Ryan G - She's got another book that I just added to my TBR list called GRAYSON. You should look into that one as well!

Beth F said...

I hate cold water -- yikes! But the first sentence is amazing.

Heather J. said...

Beth F - Me too, but the book was still REALLY good!

GMR said...

WOW! That opening is definitely an attention getter....I too am not one to get really excited about sports memoirs or memoirs in general, but there are a few from time to time that really speak to you, you know? Might I suggest....if you liked this one, perhaps you may like Double Take by Kevin Michael Connolly....there's a review at my site, but it's a rather interesting read as well.
Thanks for sharing about this one! I may have to check it out a little later in the coming year ....happy holidays!

Heather J. said...

GMR - Thanks for the recommendation - I'm off to find it on your blog now!

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