Swim: Why We Love the Water

( 6 )

Overview

Swim is a celebration of swimming and the effect it has on our lives. It’s an inquiry into why we swim—the lure, the hold, the timeless magic of being in the water. It’s a look at how swimming has changed over the millennia, how this ancient activity is becoming more social than solitary today. It’s about our relationship with the water, with our fishy forebearers, and with the costumes that we wear. You’ll even find a few songs to sing when you push out those next laps.

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Overview

Swim is a celebration of swimming and the effect it has on our lives. It’s an inquiry into why we swim—the lure, the hold, the timeless magic of being in the water. It’s a look at how swimming has changed over the millennia, how this ancient activity is becoming more social than solitary today. It’s about our relationship with the water, with our fishy forebearers, and with the costumes that we wear. You’ll even find a few songs to sing when you push out those next laps.

Swimming enthusiast Lynn Sherr explores every aspect of the sport, from the biology of swimming to the fame of Esther Williams; from turquoise pools and wild water to the training of Olympians; and she reveals the secret of buoyancy so that anyone can avoid the example of the English poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, who lamented, “Why can’t I swim, it seems so very easy?” When his friend, the biographer Edward John Trelawny, said, “because you think you can’t,” Shelley plunged into Italy’s Arno River and dropped like a rock. With Swim, you can avoid that happening to you.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

Esther Williams

“Lynn Sherr’s book, SWIM, will help water be your friend and it will be the best friend you'll ever have.  I'm proud to be a part of that.”

Lynne Cox, open-water champion; author, Swimming to Antarctica
“I couldn’t put this book down.  It’s a swimming party, with glamorous stars, ancient warriors and lovers, and some of the greatest and wildest swimmers.  It’s a story full of zen and exuberant energy and merriment.  If you love to swim, you’ll love SWIM!”
 
Kirkus Reviews

“A collection of swimming traditions and anecdotes wrapped in a celebration of the pleasures involved…. Her enthusiasm propels the book forward. That enthusiasm bleeds over into her history of swimming, which has a gratifyingly great sweep. From start to finish, she searches for the essence of why swimming has touched so many, be it Oliver Sacks (‘I never knew anything so powerfully, so healthily euphoriant’) or Chairman Mao (‘Do you swim? Water is a good thing’). Sherr sends a sweet valentine, with enough background to keep it interesting, to a love that has never let her down."

 
Wall Street Journal
“What is there to say about such a solitary and inward experience?  Plenty, as it turns out. In Swim: Why We Love the Water, Lynn Sherr… pulls us into the subject … and interweaves it within her version of a quest romance: Can this 60-something grandmother achieve her goal and swim the Hellespont—the legendary strait that runs between the Aegean Sea and Turkey's interior? ... Ms. Sherr writes personably and moves her reader through her narrative at a pleasing pace … What Ms. Sherr does best is describe the pleasures of the water, of finding yourself while losing yourself, giving yourself up to the supporting medium. … and every chapter of the book builds her personal narrative while placing it in the context of often fascinating mini-treatises on subjects that reach beyond the water. … She writes interestingly about women and bathing suits (Diana Vreeland pronounced the bikini "the most important thing since the atom bomb") and about the effects of water on women's hair, topics that become, with her attention, more than merely peripheral.” 
 
Sports Illustrated
“A witty and informative celebration of her sport, as well as an inspiring tale of personal challenge and discovery…. [Sherr] immerses the reader in the history, lore, science and trivia of swimming. In barely 200 pages of buoyant prose illustrated with photos, diagrams and swimming art, Sherr presents an enormous amount of aquatic info—from the origins of strokes and the evolution of swimwear to the physiology of Olympic swimmers; from the skinny-dipping habits of John Quincy Adams to whether giraffes can swim. (Yes, just not well.) Best of all, Sherr captures the physical thrill of the one human activity that takes place in a completely alien element. Dive in.”
 
Town & Country
“A delicious, inspiring love-letter to swimming from former ABC correspondent Lynn Sherr. In between tales of swimsuits past and present, the stellar performances of Annette Kellerman and Esther Williams, and the magic of champion swimmers, Sherr chronicles her own attempt to swim across the Hellespont from Europe to Asia, following mythological lover Leander and romantic poet Lord Byron.”
 
O Magazine
“From the evolution of our ‘aquatic ancestors’ to the trauma of bathing suit shopping, these essays examine the sport of swimming from every angle.”
 
Open Water Swimming, Steve Munatones
“A joy to read … and re-read…. Each chapter moves smoothly and swiftly like the swimming strokes of the most graceful aquatic heroes and heroines. Looking down on each page of Lynn’s book is similar to swimming over a coral reef: you are not quite sure what you are going to come across next, but you are sure enough to enjoy it when you do. Lynn literally covers thousands of years of history, along with nearly 100 photos, engravings and images that like perfectly placed currents gently pushing the reader towards the end of an extraordinarily well-written and deeply researched page turner.”
 
Cleveland Plain Dealer
“Charming… Swim is a book-length love letter to [Sherr’s] favorite sport.”
 

Boston Globe
“[A] breezy, amiable meditation…. [Sherr’s] enthusiasm for the subject —‘I have never had a bad swim,’ she writes at one point — buoys us along as she interviews competitive swimmers, biologists, and the president of the International Swimming Hall of Fame.”
 
Chicago Tribune
“Swimming may be Sherr's salvation, but one needn't be an enthusiast to be charmed by this graceful memoir.”

Financial Times

“In Swim, a joyful plunge into the history, lore and legend of swimming, US journalist and avid swimmer Lynn Sherr explores the pleasures of gliding through cool waters while preparing to follow Leander and Byron and cross the Hellespont herself.”

San Francisco Chronicle
"A thorough celebration of swimming, and what it has taught us over the centuries.”
 

Washington Post
“This book will enchant anyone who’s drawn to water, whether you swim once a week at the local pool or dedicate your life to briny challenges…. Beautifully illustrated with maps, texts and rare images of swimming—from Egyptian hieroglyphs through Hollywood to the Olympic Games. [Sherr] delivers it all in beautiful prose: She is an award-winning writer and broadcast journalist, a well-known face on ABC News for 30 years. This is Sherr in her element, eagerly sharing her life’s passion through an assiduous look at swimming and what it means. Perhaps the tiny swimmer breaststroking over and over again at the foot of each page is Sherr herself…. SWIM is the only book I’ve ever read that gathers together everything we love about swimming in one volume. It’s all here. And its enticing blend of personality and passion will draw you in, just like an irresistible glimpse of a lake on a hot summer’s day.”
 
Jane Brody,  New York Times
“Sherr celebrates the culture, history and physical and mental rewards of this ancient sport."

The Economist
“Ms. Sherr weaves notes from her year of magical training for the Hellespont swimathon into a highly readable celebration of man’s water history and the lure of the blue—what Wallace Stevens called ‘the basic slate, the universal hue’—that has attracted swimmers from Neptune to Nemo.” 

Kirkus Reviews
A collection of swimming traditions and anecdotes wrapped in a celebration of the pleasures involved. Former ABC News correspondent Sherr (Outside the Box: My Unscripted Life of Love, Loss, and Television News, 2008, etc.) is a lifelong swimmer, and her passion for the act, from a lazy bobbing in gentle waves to a hard push across the Hellespont (aka the Dardanelles)--her story of which is tracked at intervals throughout the narrative--issues from each of these pages. Even when her comments are at their most random--e.g., "Swimming…allows you to dream big dreams"--her enthusiasm propels the book forward. That enthusiasm bleeds over into her history of swimming, which has a gratifyingly great sweep. Sherr moves from the deep past, when immersing oneself was only typical during wartime, to Leander and Lord Byron making their own Hellespont dash, to Benjamin Franklin (who wrote, "I thought it likely, that if I were to remain in England and open a Swimming School, I might get a good deal of Money"), to the coming of spandex. With a breezy touch, the author chronicles the evolution of public bathing, in the process revealing the disdain with which some purists view swimming pools: "Swimming under a roof to me is like big game hunting in a zoo. All legitimate fascination goes," said Annette Kellerman, one of swimming's grand dames. Sherr also explores the application of physics on competitive swimming and on miracle fibers in the latest swimsuits. From start to finish, she searches for the essence of why swimming has touched so many, be it Oliver Sacks ("I never knew anything so powerfully, so healthily euphoriant") or Chairman Mao ("Do you swim? Water is a good thing"). Sherr sends a sweet valentine, with enough background to keep it interesting, to a love that has never let her down.
The Barnes & Noble Review

For the nearly all the 15,000 miles I have swum so far in my life, I have followed a black line in a pool. It's hard to explain how simultaneously dull and exciting it has been. My days as an elite swimmer ended just after college, but my love of the sport, that sport, my sport, has always remained. The feel of water-saturated air or the smell of chlorinated water or wintergreen oil (used in rubdowns before competition) sends an endorphin shot into my brain like nothing else ever will.

This coexisting love and addiction to both the sport and the pastime of swimming is what Lynn Sherr has attempted to capture in Swim: Why We Love the Water.

Best known as a correspondent for the ABC news magazine 20/20, Sherr takes a broad brush and methodical approach to an elemental subject. She writes with enthusiasm as she travels from evolution in tide pools to the construction of backyard pools, and from the development of the modern swimming strokes to scientific musings on whether giraffes can swim. It's a lot of ground to cover and makes more for a collection of factoids and vignettes than for a narrative, but there are many high-water marks in the course of the crossing. Illustrations are generously laid into the prose, sometimes on top of one another, and give the work a look that evokes both a school project and an Ode to Swimming Joy.

From the first pages, Sherr dives into the subtleties and nuances of what makes swimming an allure for most and a necessity for many. She rightly and repeatedly points out that we humans evolved from prehistoric fish and opines as to whether or not that fact drives us to take the plunge. She also outlines the reality that the modern application of humans to water can have disastrous results for the unprepared.

There are particularly poignant moments in Sherr's interviews with the select athletes who compete at the top of swimming as a sport. Swimmer-athletes endure grueling daily training and dietary regimens, as well as a unique species of psychological strain caused by swimming's intense, singleminded focus. Technological stretches (think high-tech bathing suits) have combined with modern training methods to lower world records dramatically in the last few decades. The subsequent competition is relentless. The admission by Olympians that they avoid the natatorium completely after retirement says much of the dedication demanded, and reflects something of my own experience.

All told, Swim is a gratifying read that enthusiasts will find buoyant.

Marc Parrish is a marketing executive in technology, an entrepreneur, and an avid observer of the Silicon Valley zeitgeist. He has held senior roles with major brands including Palm and Barnes & Noble, and founded multiple well-known start-ups. You can follow him at twitter.com/marc_parrish_.

Reviewer: Marc Parrish

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781610393331
  • Publisher: PublicAffairs
  • Publication date: 6/4/2013
  • Edition description: First Trade Paper Edition
  • Pages: 232
  • Sales rank: 348,106
  • Product dimensions: 5.70 (w) x 8.10 (h) x 0.47 (d)

Meet the Author

Lynn Sherr

Broadcast journalist and writer Lynn Sherr was an award-winning correspondent for more than thirty years at ABC News. She is the author of Tall Blondes: A Book About Giraffes; Outside the Box: A Memoir; America the Beautiful: The Stirring True Story Behind Our Nation’s Favorite Song; and Failure is Impossible: Susan B. Anthony in Her Words. She coedited Peter Jennings, A Reporter’s Life. She lives in New York.

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Table of Contents

1 Diving In 1

2 Water Babies 15

3 Fish Out of Water 39

4 Different Strokes 57

5 The Fast Lane 79

6 Go with the Flow 103

7 Stream Lines 131

8 Sink or Swim 151

9 The Art of Swimming 163

10 Swim 179

Acknowledgments 189

Selected Bibliography 191

Credits 195

Index 203

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 6 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(2)

4 Star

(2)

3 Star

(2)

2 Star

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1 Star

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Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Posted September 5, 2012

    Highly recommended for swimmers

    I loved this book as an e-book, so I bought the hardcover for a friend who also swims. Lynn Sherr did a great job researching all the facts and fables about swimming. A fun read!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 5, 2013

    K

    Hey im lsp

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 25, 2013

    Didn't get it.

    The pool is my 2nd home.
    I rate this 3 stars because I didn't buy it. Don't look at my star rating and say "Oh. Only 3 stars. It must be okay." Don't do that! I didn't get it. Repeat: Don't take my review into count, I DIDN'T GET IT!
    -Swimmer Forever (SwimGirl)

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 15, 2012

    Brad

    :( im 16 he flips his shiny black hair*

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 19, 2012

    Joey

    Hey

    0 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 19, 2012

    Jenni

    Heyy

    0 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews

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