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Swim: Why We Love the Water

3.72  ·  Rating Details ·  354 Ratings  ·  91 Reviews
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 wit ...more
Hardcover, 232 pages
Published April 3rd 2012 by PublicAffairs
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Streamline by Jennifer LaneSwim Recruit by Jennifer LaneOf Poseidon by Anna BanksEverblue by Brenda PandosTangled Tides by Karen Amanda Hooper
Swimming Books
17th out of 66 books — 130 voters
Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary MantelWhy Nations Fail by Daron AcemoğluIron Curtain by Anne ApplebaumFreedom's Forge by Arthur HermanUnfinished Empire by John Darwin
The Economist - Books of the Year 2012
45th out of 55 books — 11 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 833)
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Rachel Wagner
Jun 18, 2012 Rachel Wagner rated it it was amazing
I don't know if non-swimmers would find it interesting but I loved it. Just the kind of non-fiction I love. They take a part of my life and elaborate on it. Reading these type of books for me is so validating.
Lynn Sherr shares her love affair with swimming and the water, particularly open water swimming. Then she includes tons of interesting trivia and history on the sport.
I just loved it
My favorite quote:
“Swimming is my salvation. Ask me in the middle of winter, or at the end of a grueling da
Marlene Rockmore
Jun 19, 2012 Marlene Rockmore rated it really liked it
Swimming is my sport. I swim 5-10 miles/week easily in the summer. But this year I lost my inspiration. It was hard to swim alone, so I played more tennis and went to group dance classes. And then I read Lynn Sherr's book on the history of swimming, her love of the water, her interest in technique. Lynn is a 65+ ABC News Journalist who swam the Hellespont from Asia to Europe. She analyzes this swim, the legend of Hero and Leander that inspired her swim; she dissects technique (Did you know that ...more
Jun 06, 2012 Janet rated it really liked it
Enjoyable read. She feels just the way I do about living in swim and filled me in on all kinds of trivia and history.

"Swimming is my salvation. Ask me in the middle of winter, or at the end of a grueling day, or after a long stretch at the computer, where I'd most like to be, and the answer is always the same: in the water, gliding weightless, slicing a silent trail through whatever patch of blue I can find."

*the silky feeling of liquid on skin
*the chance to float free
* as close to flying as I'l
Jul 29, 2016 Qi rated it really liked it
This book has ranged the swimming from a historic/anthropological strand as well as a chronicle of the author's own experience and achievement as a high-level amateur swimmer. It is not a training manual, although there are technical details from breathing to swimming attires. Its central idea is swimming as a delight for human body and mind. Our largest organ is skin, how does one feel if our skin is immersed in the womb-like support of water? And the sun and wind, the gravitational release, th ...more
Kelly Kittel
Oct 26, 2015 Kelly Kittel rated it really liked it
As a water-lover who claims to be part fish, Swim was the perfect summer read for me as I swam daily in my beloved ocean. Indeed, to quote the author, we were fish ourselves hundreds of millions of years ago! "The fish part of us is really very deep, and it's written inside of the basic structure of our bodies," says Neil Shubin who led the team in the Canadian Arctic in 2004 that found the missing link between our aquatic ancestors and land-based mammals, namely a 375-million-year-old fossil fi ...more
Julie H.
May 08, 2012 Julie H. rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, swimming
Sherr's book is a charming little read--part meditation, part memoir, and part history of swimming. The chapters are brief and each includes some update (in an italic font) of the author's progress across the Hellespont, accounts of the various and sundry folks she traveled the globe to interview, consult and/or train with, marvelous post cards and other 19th- and 20th-century images of bathers and bathing costumes. (It's really surprising that more people didn't drown wearing such astounding am ...more
Jun 09, 2012 Allyson rated it it was amazing

I loved reading and holding this book. I would have wished it longer but it was also perfect just like this. Initially her palpable sense of humor seemed a little too goofy but I find now I will miss her voice. From the gorgeous cover to the cool graphics, it was just great.
Swimming has also been my salvation and obviously I am biased, but she presented everything compellingly and interestingly which left me wanting even more- an almost perfect reading experience. Historical facts, goofy anecd
Jenna Fisher
Feb 20, 2012 Jenna Fisher rated it liked it
This book was chalk full of crazy fun facts about swimming:

Women first competed in Olympic swimming in 1912, but not the US didnt allow women to compete without long skirts until a couple years later.

Goggles weren't permitted in the Olympics til 1976.

Michael Phelps' armspan is longer than his height.

Despite the encyclopedia/fun fact nature of it, I wanted the book to be a more. I think the author tried to do that by interlacing the story of her own personal swim journey as she raced across He
Jan 28, 2014 Naomi rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I used to love to swim, before my muscular and coordination loss prevented me from that pleasure. I had a little of that former joy reading Lynn Sherr's _Swim: Why We Love The Water_, a lengthy meditation with a good dose of history and art and sports wisdom. The concentration swimming demands means it is where some of us are fully present in the moment, learning from swimming what we might learn through other spiritual practices. Indeed, I know many people whose best time to meditate or pray is ...more
Feb 21, 2014 Bookworm rated it it was ok
Part-memoir, part swimming history, Sherr takes the reader though swimming and its place in history. Honestly, I couldn't understand the appeal of the book. It caught my eye since I swam in high school, but the book couldn't decide what it wanted to be. A memoir by the author, a history lesson, part travel-louge, etc.

At first it started off well as a memoir, but quickly flips to Romans and swimming. I found the book a little schizophrenic in that way, jumping from topic to topic without a trans
May 08, 2012 Shari rated it really liked it
A good book and a fast read. Written by a swimmer, about swimming, for swimmers. Tends to jump around a bit, but still entertaining.
Sep 18, 2015 Renee rated it really liked it
Really adorable and interesting book. 4.5 stars. Well-written, well-researched, and enjoyable.
Robert K
Jul 04, 2015 Robert K rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Swimmers have a certain mind-set & understanding of life in the water that other people just don't get. Lynn gets-it! In spades. I can only imagine the rush she felt swimming from Europe to Asia across the Hellespont ( the Dardanelles). Her wonderful insight into the history of the sport & what it feels like to put on a racing suit is something only swimmers, real swimmers understand. I always respected Lynn as an ABC journalist/reporter. She is talented in many ways & my only regret ...more
Oct 11, 2013 AR rated it liked it
Things I liked about this book:

- I learned a lot about the history of swimming, famous swimmers and a little about swimming training and techniques. Most of this stuff I didn't know beforehand although I swim for exercise.

- I found myself pausing to look up more information about things mentioned in the book on the internet: the finger worn device for counting laps, pictures of famous swimmers, silent movies with swimming on YouTube. The book opened me up to a whole world of information that I c
Sep 02, 2013 Mike rated it liked it
Story of the author swimming across the Hellespont, her training to do so, and the highlights of the history of swimming. For swimmers, an entertaining read, I would guess less so for landlubbers.
Key message - everyone needs to learn to swim. 2nd message - swim more often.
Most interesting was learning about Annette Kellerman, an Aussie swimming champion at the beginning of the 1900s. She arrived in the States to see women swimming in shoes, stockings, bloomers, skirts, even corsets and was horr
Sep 02, 2012 Megan rated it really liked it
I enjoy the sort of book that takes a particular subject and explores it from multiple angles. In this book, Sherr writes just such a book about swimming. She explores the history of swimming in Western culture, with its waning and waxing popularity. She covers the development of the bathing suit and the various strokes now used in competition. She shows the science behind how swimming works, looking at both physics and biology. Chapters are occasionally punctuated with amusing sidebars, and She ...more
Christina Dudley
Nov 02, 2015 Christina Dudley rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
I really enjoyed this book! Part memoir, part history, part books and music and movies. Author Sherr weaves her own story of swimming the Hellespont into the story of swimming in general. It made me want to do a few laps at the pool, and I really ought to, after reading her chapter on swimming's many health benefits.
Sep 07, 2016 Nora rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone
Recommended to Nora by: Library
A fantastic read for swimmers and non-swimmers alike. Sherr uses literature, psychology, science, and mythology in an attempt to get to the heart of the matter: why do we love the water so much??? She also shares her personal quest to swim in open water between two continents, as well as quotes from many past and present, famous and not-so-famous swimmers.
Oct 06, 2015 Laura rated it it was amazing
Shelves: just-cuz
I wouldn't call myself a passionate swimmer. I swim for peace of mind and exercise. Swimming prepares me for the activities I love to do. But reading this book was a nice education on the history of the sport, from its mythical beginnings to its current occupation in competition and recreation. Fascinating (a look at daring swimmers), hilarious (bathing machines! WTF?), relevant (its relation to pop culture, etc) and well written. Definitely worth reading if you simply want an appreciation of th ...more
Lisa Creane
Jun 05, 2012 Lisa Creane rated it it was amazing
I loved the clever little swimmer on the bottom of the pages tracking how far you've gotten in the book; the interesting sidebars; the historical context; the science of swimming; the story of Lynn's quest to cover the strait between Europe and Asia called the Hellespont; the color pictures; the cultural references; the cover; the highly accessible and yet never base language; the references to other books on swimming. But most of all, the book did what it tried to, which is urge me, nay direct ...more
Ann Xiang
Sep 22, 2014 Ann Xiang rated it really liked it
A casual history of swimming full of interesting anecdotes, interwoven with the author's own account of swimming the Hellespont. Makes you smile a lot and shiver a little..
Aug 27, 2012 Amanda rated it liked it
I learned some interesting things about the history of swimming from this book, and it's great to read a book that's devoted to my sport of choice (especially since non-swimmers don't seem to pay attention to swimming unless the Olympics are upon us). However, there were a couple of things I found a little irritating: for one, worrying about how a swim cap makes you look and the fact that it still doesn't keep your hair completely dry. I started swimming competitively when I was 11, so a cap jus ...more
Aug 09, 2012 Debbie rated it liked it
This book is rather unusual, which is why I liked it. Ms. Sherr certainly did a lot of research, and she happily shares some interesting history and facts that most people probably do not know. She clearly loves swimming, and her love for it makes this book a joy to read.

I'm not sure if it would hold the interest of non-swimmers. However, I do think that nearly everyone could find a little something to enjoy since she covers a broad range - from historical figures to swimming attire to humorous
Jan 29, 2013 Jules rated it really liked it
As an avid fan of the water and all things related, including swimming, bathing, and just being in water, I did not need anyone to tell me why I love the water. But Lynn Sherr's brief book was still a great read. Part auto-biography, part social and cultural history of swimming, part guide on how to improve your stroke, and part antidote it provided lots of interesting information and made me reconsider joining the Y just so I could swim during the winter months. I haven't actually done this yet ...more
Apr 27, 2013 Beth rated it really liked it
This sits on my bedside table again. It's been there before. I've placed it on the shelves, but when it came time to do some soul searching for Casey's confirmation quote, I pulled it from the shelf and set it on the bedside table once more. We decided to go with a bible quote about water. Casey is as much a water baby as I am and reading through this book once more, I'm struck by how Lynn Sherr gets it. She understands me in ways most will never be able to, because of her relationship to water. ...more
Oct 04, 2015 Kate rated it it was amazing
This book was a joy to read. I've been a swimmer forever and the words and passion on the pages could have come from my own head.
Yi-hsin Lin
Aug 09, 2012 Yi-hsin Lin rated it it was ok
More sugar than substance in this book. It provides a very high-level history of various elements of swimming- the evolution of the strokes, swimming in popular culture, the history of the bathing suit, etc- but none of them very deeply. Admittedly most of these topics probably don't have enough depth to warrant a more comprehensive treatment, but for some it was distinctly lacking. In the chapter about technological innovations in swimming, I would have liked more detailed descriptions of the f ...more
Oct 21, 2012 Corinne rated it really liked it
This book was recommended by a swimmer friend who loves the water and swimming. I wasn't sure if I would really love it as much as she although I do like to get a good swim in once in a while. That being said, I quite enjoyed it. It's gives a thorough history of swimming poetry, swimsuits and gear, the evolution of swim styles, great names in swimming and much more. This story interweaves with the author's own search to find the meaning and attraction to swimming while she crosses between to con ...more
Oct 28, 2012 Katie rated it it was amazing
Avid swimmers will really enjoy this book. Non-swimmers will wonder how a whole book could be written about swimming. Lynn Sherr, an award-winning broadcast journalist (ABC News) and writer, has had a life-long passion for swimming, and has crammed into this book probably everything that can be written about this sport and past-time. In Swim, she writes about the history of swimming, the culture, technique, the science, and the training she personally undergoes for her long-distance, open water ...more
Jun 06, 2014 Caite rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: swimming
Fun little book to pass the time - if you like swimming. Lots of facts and thoughts. Very evocative.
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Broadcast journalist and writer Lynn Sherr has been swimming since she was a toddler, learning first by watching frogs in a Pennsylvania lake. She has since expanded both her strokes and her waterways. For more than thirty years, she was an award-winning correspondent for ABC News. She is the author of many books, including Tall Blondes: A Book about Giraffes; Outside the Box: A Memoir, and Failur ...more
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“Curvy people float better than lean beans, and women more than men, because even at our slimmest, we have an extra layer of fat distributed throughout our bodies.” 0 likes
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