Swimming to Antarctica Tales of a long-distance swimmer

Lynne Cox, 1957-

Book - 2004

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797.21092/Cox
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2nd Floor 797.21092/Cox Due Jul 12, 2022
Subjects
Published
New York : A.A. Knopf 2004.
Edition
1st ed
Language
English
Physical Description
323 p.
ISBN
0375415076
Main Author
Lynne Cox, 1957- (-)
Review by Booklist Reviews

Cox was a girl when she discovered the joys of swimming in open water. She was good at it, too, blessed with the perfect physique for long, cold swims. She dreamed of crossing the English Channel and, at age 15, set a new record doing just that. More stunning swims followed: New Zealand's tide-whipped Cook Strait, Chile's stormy Strait of Magellan, and South Africa's shark-swarmed Cape of Good Hope. She battled stonewalling Soviets for a decade before gaining permission for a goodwill swim from the U.S. to the USSR in the frigid Bering Strait. Cox is a pleasure. In an era when so many athletes are motivated by greed and ego, she seems utterly genuine. She studies her body like a scientist but writes about water with a winning, simple poeticism. Many passages are grip-the-page exciting, whether she's dodging Antarctic icebergs or Nile River sewage. Her wide-eyed idealism may seem a little corny at first, but by the end we're rooting for her, wondering if brave and mostly solitary acts (huge support crews are necessary) don't bring us together after all. ((Reviewed December 15, 2003)) Copyright 2003 Booklist Reviews

Review by Library Journal Reviews

Cox has swum the 32-degree waters around Antarctica-and the Bering Strait and Lake Baikal, among other chilly places. Here's how she does it-and why. With a 75,000-copy first printing. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

Cox shares with her readers a truly amazing life. She was a gifted swimmer from her childhood, and it quickly became apparent that her strength was in long-distance swimming rather than the comparatively short races of Olympic competition. After setting a record for swimming the English Channel when she was only 15, she longed to make a difference in the world with her skill and realized that swimming from shore to shore symbolically brought the two together. She immediately set her sights on swimming the Bering Strait between Alaska and the then-Soviet Union. Much of the book details her 12-year odyssey to get permission for this swim, but she also eloquently writes of her other record-setting swims, including the Strait of Magellan and around the Cape of Good Hope, where she was nearly attacked by a shark. And, of course, there is her frigid 1.06-mile swim to Antarctica in 32-degree water. The writing is workmanlike at best, but Cox's sincerity and her love for the sport shine through, making this a good addition to all sports collections. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 9/1/03.]-Deirdre Bray Root, Middletown P.L., OH Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

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. (Jan.) Forecast: Knopf plans lots of media for this inspirational book, including a nine-city author tour, a profile in Biography magazine, an appearance on NPR, ads in USA Today and features in women's, sports and travel magazines. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

A noted long-distance swimmer with a love for cold water describes her eventful career in the sport, from her record-breaking English Channel crossing and her 1987 swim across the Bering Strait from America to the Soviet Union to her exploits in the Straits of Magellan, Lake Baikal, and Antarctica. 50,000 first printing.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

A noted long-distance swimmer with a love for cold water describes her record-breaking English Channel crossing, her 1987 swim across the Bering Strait, and exploits in the Straits of Magellan, Lake Baikal, and Antarctica.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

In this extraordinary book, the world's most extraordinary distance swimmer writes about her emotional and spiritual need to swim and about the almost mystical act of swimming itself.Lynne Cox trained hard from age nine, working with an Olympic coach, swimming five to twelve miles each day in the Pacific. At age eleven, she swam even when hail made the water "like cold tapioca pudding" and was told she would one day swim the English Channel. Four years later - not yet out of high school - she broke the men's and women's world records for the Channel swim. In 1987, she swam the Bering Strait from America to the Soviet Union - a feat that, according to Gorbachev, helped diminish tensions between Russia and the United States.Lynne Cox's relationship with the water is almost mystical: she describes swimming as flying, and remembers swimming at night through flocks of flying fish the size of mockingbirds, remembers being escorted by a pod of dolphins that came to her off New Zealand.Lynne Cox has swum the Mediterranean, the three-mile Strait of Messina, under the ancient bridges of Kunning Lake, below the old summer palace of the emperor of China in Beijing. Breaking records no longer interests her. She writes about the ways in which these swims instead became vehicles for personal goals, how she sees herself as the lone swimmer among the waves, pitting her courage against the odds, drawn to dangerous places and treacherous waters that, since ancient times, have challenged sailors in ships.

Review by Publisher Summary 4

Cox was inducted into the Swimming Hall of Fame in 2000, and between her plunges, has written extensively about her adventures. Some of the two dozen essays here have appeared in The New Yorker or The Los Angeles Times . Annotation ©2004 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Review by Publisher Summary 5

• At age fourteen, she swam twenty-six miles from Catalina Island to the California mainland.• At ages fifteen and sixteen, she broke the men’s and women’s world records for swimming the English Channel—a thirty-three-mile crossing in nine hours, thirty-six minutes.• At eighteen, she swam the twenty-mile Cook Strait between North and South Islands of New Zealand, was caught on a massive swell, found herself after five hours farther from the finish than when she started, and still completed the swim.• She was the first to swim the Strait of Magellan, the most treacherous three-mile stretch of water in the world.• The first to swim the Bering Strait—the channel that forms the boundary line between the United States and Russia—from Alaska to Siberia, thereby opening the U.S.-Soviet border for the first time in forty-eight years, swimming in thirty-eight-degree water in four-foot waves without a shark cage, wet suit, or lanolin grease.• The first to swim the Cape of Good Hope (a shark emerged from the kelp, its jaws wide open, and was shot as it headed straight for her).In this extraordinary book, the world’s most extraordinary distance swimmer writes about her emotional and spiritual need to swim and about the almost mystical act of swimming itself.Lynne Cox trained hard from age nine, working with an Olympic coach, swimming five to twelve miles each day in the Pacific. At age eleven, she swam even when hail made the water “like cold tapioca pudding” and was told she would one day swim the English Channel. Four years later—not yet out of high school—she broke the men’s and women’s world records for the Channel swim. In 1987, she swam the Bering Strait from America to the Soviet Union—a feat that, according to Gorbachev, helped diminish tensions between Russia and the United States.Lynne Cox’s relationship with the water is almost mystical: she describes swimming as flying, and remembers swimming at night through flocks of flying fish the size of mockingbirds, remembers being escorted by a pod of dolphins that came to her off New Zealand.She has a photographic memory of her swims. She tells us how she conceived of, planned, and trained for each, and re-creates for us the experience of swimming (almost) unswimmable bodies of water, including her most recent astonishing one-mile swim to Antarctica in thirty-two-degree water without a wet suit. She tells us how, through training and by taking advantage of her naturally plump physique, she is able to create more heat in the water than she loses.Lynne Cox has swum the Mediterranean, the three-mile Strait of Messina, under the ancient bridges of Kunning Lake, below the old summer palace of the emperor of China in Beijing. Breaking records no longer interests her. She writes about the ways in which these swims instead became vehicles for personal goals, how she sees herself as the lone swimmer among the waves, pitting her courage against the odds, drawn to dangerous places and treacherous waters that, since ancient times, have challenged sailors in ships.