Swimming to Antarctica: Book summary and reviews of Swimming to Antarctica by Lynne Cox

Swimming to Antarctica

Tales of a Long-Distance Swimmer

by Lynne Cox

Swimming to Antarctica
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  • Published in USA  Jan 2004
    336 pages
    Genre: Biographies & Memoirs

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Book Summary

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.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"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." - Publishers Weekly.

"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." - Booklist.

"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." - Library Journal.

"An otherworldly existence brought hugely to life." - Kirkus Reviews.

"[Cox has] done things the rest of us only imagine--and she's written a book that helps us to imagine them with clarity and wonder." - The Boston Globe.

"More than the story of the greatest open-water swimmer, Swimming to Antarctica is a portrait of rare and relentless drive. . . .Gripping." - Sports Illustrated.

"A tale of remarkable physical prowess and heart." - Vogue.

"Fetching and pitch-perfect . . . Full of perilous, preposterous-if-they-weren't-true scenes." - Outside Magazine.

"An instant classic of adventure writing." - Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

"The only things more impressive than her heroics are her magnanimous spirit and ability to bring people together." - Miami Herald.

"A triumph of a positive outlook, hefty preparation, and raw courage." - The Economist.

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Reader Reviews

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Noursein

Believe in Yourself
Cox is a girl with a dream and wishes to do it, but she was afraid at the beginning, but also she was believing in herself and trying to support herself and make her more confident. Also her crew were believing in her and supporting her and giving her advice to make her reach her goal. She faced many problems, but she proceeded. She knew her body very well and knew that if she does this what will happen - the water she was swimming in was so cold that she couldn't feel her skin. At the end after she made her dream come true she was really proud of herself and also her team were the same. This is really a good inspiration to follow because she really faced hard problems while swimming but she pretended not to see them because she was looking forward to her dream that was coming true.

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Author Information

Lynne Cox Author Biography

Lynne Cox was born in Boston, Massachusetts, and grew up in Los Alamitos, California, where she still lives. She is the author of Swimming to Antarctica and Grayson. Her articles have appeard in The New Yorker and the Los Angeles Times Magazine, among other publications.

At age 9, she began her swimming career in Manchester, NH with the Manchester Swim Team. Her coach was Ben Muritt, the Harvard University coach. At age 12, Lynne moved with her family to Los Alamitos California where she began training with Don Gambril, coach of four US Olympic Swim teams.

In 1971 at age 14 Lynne swam across the Catalina Channel with a group of teenagers from Seal Beach, California . They swam a distance of 27 miles in 12 hours and 36 minutes.

In 1972 ...

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