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Off the Deep End: The Probably Insane Idea That I Could Swim My Way Through a Midlife Crises, And Qualify For the Olympics Hardcover – June 10, 2008


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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Funny and self-deprecating and sweetly engaging."—National Geographic Adventure (National Geographic Review )

“So well-written that even non-swimmers will enjoy reading about Carter’s Olympic quest.”—Kirkus Reviews (Kirkus Reviews )

"Mr. Carter's voice is so infectiously charming and innocent, and the prose is so affable, even the hardships sound fun."—The Baltimore Sun (Baltimore Sun ) --This text refers to the CD-ROM edition.

Review

"Off the Deep End is hilarious and insightful. It's far more than a book about swimming. Carter's story will inspire people to go for their dreams at any age, and you can never get enough of that. I love this book!"
—Lynne Cox, author of Swimming to Antarctica and Grayson --This text refers to the CD-ROM edition.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 209 pages
  • Publisher: Algonquin Books; First Edition, 1st Printing edition (June 10, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1565125649
  • ISBN-13: 978-1565125643
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.8 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,759,430 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

I like to feel some interest in a book's main character, and that didn't happen here.
Care Caro
It is funny, a quick read, and really is a good chance to look inside yourself and see if you are trying as hard as ou can.
Gray Water
The book was fun and interesting to read; by the end you feel like W. Hodding Carter is one of your friends or team mates.
M. Bailey

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By cxlxmx on July 1, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
When I ordered this book, I was expecting sort of a literary reflection on swimming, discussing the experience of endless laps in ponderous prose. Of course, I forgot my experience of champion swimmers (driven, sometimes eccentric, sometimes manic, but not usually introspective). Actually, the book is more like a series of short stories about some interesting events in the course of the author's life over the last few years.

In the course of reading, you get some nice introductions to modern thinking about swimming training and technique and some introductions to personalities in masters swimming and Olympians. Like the author, my only image of Mark Spitz growing up was the golden boy. Quite an eye-opener here!

If you've enjoyed competitive swimming in your own past but have not kept up with the swimming world, I can say with certainty that you will like this book. If you haven't been a swimmer before, you can still enjoy it, as you don't need a lot of technical understanding to follow the stories.

The fact that the book is written for and was released at just the right time to make a financial windfall in case the author qualifies for the 2008 Beijing Olympic trials is a little off-putting, but it doesn't really detract from the quality or the inherent interest of the vignettes.

BTW, my sense is that the reviewer Geezerjock below just skimmed the book and missed the more important stories about the author beating his previous best times set when he was decades younger. In the future, when they have made more anti-aging technological breakthroughs, I think this book will be able to seen as a chronicle of someone living on the cusp of human transformation. The book does not make you cringe at every turn.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Nicole Leonard on August 2, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This is a wonderful read! It is well-written, intelligent, and funny. I agree that this is a great read for Masters swimmers but also think it is a great read for any middle-aged person who decides that life is not on that downhill slide but rather that we can still accomplish tremendous things. Its about the joy of setting goals and then experiencing the day-to-day effort of working towards those goals - having a direction that is exciting.

I have been really inspired by Dara Torres making the Olympic Team at 41 - I know a lot of people have also been inspired by her performance. What is more interesting to me is that I am also inspired by Hodding Carter and his efforts to make the Olympics - he didn't make them but his journey and where he ended up are really something. Well done!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By David Hart on July 28, 2008
Format: Hardcover
As a Masters swimmer, I really enjoyed this book! I finished it in a couple of days and handed it off to one of our coaches, who really enjoyed it as well. I told the rest of the team to go buy the book... We have all had Olympic dreams of one sort or another and looking at someones thought process was really interesting. Plus, there are some really very funny parts of the book if you know anything about swimming, as well as some good training insights for those of us over 40. Good Luck Hodding!
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Kevin Quinley VINE VOICE on June 26, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Author Hodding Carter, sunk in the middle ages, takes up the quixotic quest to regain his old collegiate swimming form and qualify for the 2008 Olympics. To do so, he puts much of his life on hold to chase his dream and regain the speed he had as a collegiate at Kenyon College. This is either an act or audacious bravery or audacious selfishness. With four kids and a working wife, Carter's preoccupation is on none of them but rather on his long-shot quest. He pulls in very little money as a freelance writer but battles with age to regain his swimming form.

In the end, you do not know whether he succeeded or not in qualifying for the Olympic team. (I doubt it...) Viewing his story is like rubbernecking after a car wreck. You don't want to look but you just can't help yourself.

Is he swimming toward the Olympics or simply swimming away from the realization that we get older and certain physical limitations are imposed, limitations that can be minimized and managed but not totally transcended. Is he swimming against the notion of death and seeking some fountain of youth to regain lost youth through swimming? One wit once said, "The older I get, the better I was."

Anyone who has set - or thought about setting - big hairy audacious goals will enjoy Carter's book and the self-revelatory candor that he packs inside. I'm rooting for his wife, his kids and his family. They don't give gold medals for devotion to family, but the achievement doesn't lose its luster.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Gray Water on October 24, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you are in your 40s, for that matter 30s or 50s and struggling to keep up to what you physically could do before-this book is an inspiration. It is funny, a quick read, and really is a good chance to look inside yourself and see if you are trying as hard as ou can. I highly recommend it. For non swimmers, the author does not get lost in swimming jargon or discussions, and when he comes close, he apologizes. great book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Lance Rodman on October 28, 2008
Format: Hardcover
As a fledgling swimmer who is close in age to the author, I can't say enough good things about this book. I absolutely loved it. I think non-swimmers will enjoy it as well, though swimmers will surely be able to appreciate it that much more. And while the literature on swimming is no doubt a bit thin, this surely ranks as one of the best books ever written about swimming. Bravo!
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