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.
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