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Swim: Why We Love the Water

3.65 of 5 stars 3.65  ·  rating details  ·  293 ratings  ·  83 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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20th out of 59 books — 124 voters
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44th out of 55 books — 7 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 692)
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Marlene Rockmore
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
Janet
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
...more
Rachel Wagner
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
...more
Julie H.
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
Allyson


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
...more
Jenna Fisher
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
...more
Naomi
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
BooksAndTea
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
...more
Kelly Kittel
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
Shari
A good book and a fast read. Written by a swimmer, about swimming, for swimmers. Tends to jump around a bit, but still entertaining.
AR
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
...more
Mike
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
...more
Megan
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
Laura
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
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
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..
Amanda
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
Debbie
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
...more
Jules
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
Beth
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
Yi-hsin Lin
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
Corinne
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
Katie
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
Caite
Fun little book to pass the time - if you like swimming. Lots of facts and thoughts. Very evocative.
Wendy Hall
This book was extremely well-researched. Some of it I found absolutely interesting and other parts of it were quite boring to me. However, I have to say that it helped me define my relationship with the water and was just good to be reassured there are others out there who have a life-long passion with swimming and how that helps shape their lives. I would only recommend it to my swim-junkie friends, but I am really glad I read it this summer. I was actually a little proud that I got it a bit we ...more
Jessica
I enjoyed this short history of swimming and Sherr includes some amusing anecdotes and shares her own story of swimming the Hellespont between the Asian and European shores of Turkey. She references swimming stars from the mythological Leander to the nearly mythological Michael Phelps, and traces swimming as sport, recreation and Hollywood inspiration.

This was a light and fun read and I sped through three-fourths of it on a sleepless night. The only problem is Sherr is sort of a pedestrian write
...more
Elalma
L'ho comprato d'impulso, perché amo nuotare, ma è anche stata una lettura molto piacevole: mentre lo leggevo avevo voglia di correre subito in piscina, dato che trasmette immediatamente tutto l'entusiasmo, l'amore per l'acqua come elemento quasi naturale. Nuotare, infatti, è un po' come viaggiare alla ricerca di se stessi. Fa stare bene non solo nel fisico, ma anche nella mente. Ho provato una grande invidia per l'autrice, che ha sfidato se stessa, attraversando l'Ellesponto.
Erica
It took me a long time to get into this book, but once I did it was a quick and easy read. It's great for people who love swimming, and it might convince some others to jump in the water. My main issue with it was the jumping around on topics - some were extremely ripe for further discussion (such as how blacks in the United States used to swim at much higher rates but segregation destroyed that). Sherr would briefly touch on issues like these (and others!) for a few pages and then flit on to so ...more
Pablo
A wonderful topical book. Found myself highlighting passages on practically every page
Paul Carr
Enjoyed this book that captured the allure and pleasure of swimming and water.
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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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