Book Review: Swimming to Antarctica

I liked this book so much, the first time I sat down and wrote a review of it I wrote a book report without even realizing it (yes, I am/was that girl).  Anyway, here is the condensed version…

When I get in to something, I get IN to it.  I love learning, researching, reading, and pouring my time into whatever it is.  And I really love to read about personal stories related to my interests – whether it be endurance sports, hiking, cooking or yoga.  So when Erin posted something about a long-distance swimming novel on instagram I had to read it (thanks for the suggestion, Erin!).


What I had expected with Swimming to Antarctica is the “standard” endurance athlete novel – overcoming something to reach an outlandish personal goal, etc.  However, what Lynne Cox delivered was so much more.  I didn’t realize her swims weren’t all for records and times, but many were for political purposes, to bridge gaps between countries and to collect scientific data.  I was so impressed with how she morphed a skill and the use of her body in a way that would positively impact the world.  In one of the YouTube videos I watched, they dubbed Lynne “one of the world’s greatest athletes that you probably don’t even know.”  Very true.

Lynne leads the reader through her progression of life as a young swimmer with such detail that you can see, feel, and smell each swim.  I loved that her recounts told not only  about the swim, but also of the people and the countries that made them happen.  She took me to far away corners of the globe and appealed to my sense of adventure.  As young adult, Lynne’s goals and dreams continued to grow, and she sets her sights on swimming in near-freezing conditions between Alaska & Russia to bridge the two countries which will require her swimming for 2 hours in 43-44 degree water.  Later, she even sets her sights on Antarctica where she swims over a mile in 33 (!) degree water.   [Last winter when the pool heater broke at the outdoor pool in I swim at, the air temperature was in the 40’s and the water temperature was 72-degrees.  I stayed in for the 1-hour practice and was SO cold the rest of the morning and even a little nauseous from the cold water getting into my ears.  I simply cannot fathom what Lynne did; and I have no desire to have that discomfort if not necessary!]. 

This book left me with inspiration and a new perspective – Lynne used her body and talents to positively impact the world.  She had a really BIG dream and a bigger purpose, and her kindness, compassion and humbleness helped her along the way.  Though they are not nearly as majestic, this book made me question my own dreams and goals in life.  What will I do to make this a better place, how can I change lives?  I also appreciated that Lynne took pride in that her body was different and was able to protect her from these cold conditions; she had unique muscle to body fat ratio that enabled her to do these swims – it was a great “love your body” reminder.  Swimmer or non-swimmer, I really enjoyed and would recommend this novel to you!

One thought on “Book Review: Swimming to Antarctica

  1. Great write-up! So glad you liked it! It’s a must read, and I think I will read it before every IM for inspiration and to remind me that I’m strong + capable of anything I put my mind to 🙂

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