Swimming to Antarctica: Tales of a Long-Distance Swimmer by Lynne Cox

Photograph by Martin Schoeller.

The story

They say that you’re more likely to get struck by lightning, killed by a mosquito or hit by a Bachelorette Party bus* than get eaten by a shark. But if you’re Lynne Cox, these odds shift dramatically in favor of the snack-happy shark. This book recounts the swimming career of Lynne Cox, a woman who set the fastest world record for crossing the English Channel twice (male and female), who crossed the Bering Straight to make peace between the Soviet Union and the US (all in a days work), and who swum a mile of icy water in Antarctica without becoming a rigor mortis iceberg. How? She’s got superpowers. Dressed in only a bathing suit, Lynne has swum through waters that I wouldn’t want to travel in a boat. She’s fought off tiger sharks, had pods of dolphins come to her rescue, and once punched her arm through a rotting dog corpse while swimming in the Nile. Her pursuits are clearly crazy, but Lynne’s writing is sensitive, accessible and down-to-earth.

* Statistics may be fabricated, but careering Bachelorette Party busses do seem to be on the rise.

The lessons I learned

  • How hard can it be to sail the seas in a boat: this woman swims them! In fact, how hard can it be to do any other adventure?
  • Sharks really aren’t all that interested in eating humans (except for that one time with the tiger sharks near the Cape of Good Hope).

Best quote

“Thank God (or Ben & Jerry’s) for my body fat; it’s insulating me from the cold.”

More True Story Books That Have Changed My Life:

Maiden Voyage by Tania Aebi

The Last American Man by Elizabeth Gilbert

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5 Response Comments

  • Sheryll  January 24, 2011 at 11:35 pm

    Wowwwww! I need to add this to my reading list ASAP!

  • The Rhythm Method  January 25, 2011 at 8:32 am

    The biggest attraction with this book is not so much the destinations (although they are remarkable), but her mode of travel. Swimming!! That is hard core. Nothing between you and the ocean but … well, nothing.


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