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Swimming to Antarctica: Tales of a Long-Distance Swimmer Paperback – March 7, 2005
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Just about every other person in the world seems like an unfocused dilettante compared to long-distance swimming legend Lynne Cox. Soon At the age of 14, after several years of training hard in pools and the open sea, she was swimming the 26 mile stretch from Catalina Island to the coast of California. A year after that, she surpassed a lifelong goal by not only swimming the English Channel but setting a new men's and women's record in the process. Rather than be satisfied, Cox aimed still higher, conquering the Cook Strait in New Zealand, the Strait of Magellan and, the Cape of Good Hope, none of which had been swum before. Being the first to swim the Bering Sea from Alaska to what was then the Soviet Union is perhaps Cox's most impressive achievement, requiring a phenomenal amount of physical strength and endurance to withstand the chilly waters and diplomatic persistence to gain permission from Gorbachev during the Cold War. Swimming to Antarctica is Cox's remarkably detailed account of her major swims and all that went right and wrong with them. While there are plenty of highs, as one might expect in a memoir by so impressive an athlete, all is not sunshine and roses for Cox. She overcomes extreme physical hardship, predatory sharks, and a swim through a sewage-soaked Nile while suffering from dysentery. There is plenty in Swimming to Antarctica to encourage even non-swimmers to work hard to achieve the seemingly impossible, but Cox, a skilled and highly readable writer, sticks to the swimming, leading the reader by example. For thrills and inspiration, it's hard to find anyone better than Lynne Cox. --John Moe --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
From Publishers Weekly
Cox, one of the world's leading long-distance swimmers, has been a risk-taker ever since she was nine and chose the freezing water of a New Hampshire pool in a storm over getting out and doing calisthenics. After her family moved to California so she and her siblings could train as speed swimmers, she discovered long-distance ocean swimming. Her first open-water event, a team race across the Catalina Channel, convinced her to train for the English Channel. At 15, she broke the Channel record, and decided she needed a new goal. Up to this point, Cox's story reads like a fairy tale of hard work, careful planning and good support, crowned with success. It isn't until she competes in the Nile River swim that the tale turns ugly-she's swimming in raw sewage and chemical waste, fending off the dead rats and broken glass, so sick with dysentery she lands in the hospital. Undeterred, she plans more ambitious swims-around the shark-infested Cape of Good Hope, across Alaska's Glacier Bay-to prepare for her big dream, a swim from Alaska to the Soviet Union across the Bering Strait. While offering herself to researchers studying the effects of cold on the human body, her political goals are even larger: to bring countries and peoples together, using swimming "to establish bridges between borders." Cox ends her story with her swim to Antarctica, where she finishes the first Antarctic mile in 32-degree water in 25 minutes. Even though readers know she survived to tell the tale, it's a thrilling, awesome and well-written story.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Top customer reviews
In addition, the accounts of different locations in which Lynne Cox has traveled is completely fascinating. I've become a little obsessed with different bodies of water and what swimming in them is like, and "Swimming to Antarctica" REALLY offers a great variety of accounts of different areas around the globe and how vastly different water can be in one location compared to the next.
This is a must-read for all those who love to swim, or those who want to understand why it is that some of us are so obsessed with distance swimming. HIGHLY recommended.
This book doesn't require a lengthy explanation for why it is a certifiably enjoyable read: extraordinary physical prowess combines with even more extraordinary strength of will in the person of Lynne Cox, and the results are legendary. Cox's writing skills are not extraordinary, but her down home writing voice combines with a choice of life goals to create a tale in which the sum is far greater than the parts.
You might expect, in a book written by a world class athlete, to hear some eye-popping stories of achievment, and your expectations will be met. What you might NOT expect is that Lynne Cox's unassuming, almost humble, telling of her story will have a lingering affect on you (and me) the reader. Cox's endurance in the water is matched by her endurance in going after a goal, and her persistence in getting permission to do certain feats (swimming the Bering Strait) is almost as astounding as her actual swims. Her never-say-die attitude both in and out of the water has on multiple occasions led me to lace up my running shoes on cold and gray days, or led me to go a few steps further in pursuing a non-athletic goal than I previously would have.
There are many other fabulous tales of athletic achievement out there, from Lance Armstrong's It's Not About the Bike, to the more recently popular Man on Wire (about the gentleman who illegally strung a wire between the Twin Towers, and walked back and forth along it several times). The pleasant steady character of Lynne Cox's biography outpaces both of these books in terms of changing the way we each view our own personal challenges.
If you're a swimmer, this is a must read. If you're not the type that likes to get wet, you'll still find yourself immersed in, charmed by, and changed by Lynne Cox's wonderful story.