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Swimming to Antarctica: Tales of a Long-Distance Swimmer

4.07  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,509 Ratings  ·  483 Reviews
Now in paperback, with photos and maps added especially for this new edition, here is the acclaimed life story of a woman whose drive and determination inspire everyone she touches.

Lynne Cox started swimming almost as soon as she could walk. By age sixteen, she had broken all records for swimming the English Channel. Her daring eventually led her to the Bering Strait, wher
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Paperback, 359 pages
Published March 7th 2005 by Mariner Books (first published 2004)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Alissa
Jan 25, 2008 Alissa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When I first heard of the book I was sure the title was figurative and poetic, but it turns out to be quite literal: the author is a distance swimmer who set her goggled sights on the Antarctica and made it happen.

What's more, she didn't make a grand production of it; probably wisely assuming that the experience in itself would bring its own grandness. Instead of gearing up in the latest advancement of wetsuit technology or other innovation of the boom in extreme athletic consumerism, Cox kept t
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Patti's Book Nook
I LOVED THIS AND YOU WILL TOO!
I was on my neighborhood swim team in elementary school. I wish I'd had the opportunity to continue, or enough self-awareness to ask my parents to find an indoor pool at the end of the season. Fast forward to this summer when I joined the YMCA and began lap swimming again as my kids go through swim lessons.

I'm embarrassed it's taken me this long to get back to the water. My form needs work and my breathing is atrocious, but I'm thrilled to be experiencing the joy
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Sarah
Oct 30, 2012 Sarah rated it it was amazing
Swimming to Antarctica
By Lynne Cox
323 Pages

Swimming to Antarctica is an absolutely amazing book. It’s incredibly inspirational. Lynne takes you on a journey starting in New Hampshire when she was merely twelve years old and shows you some of her most amazing swims. I’ve never found swimming to be overly exciting and she showed me the water through different eyes. Her absolute enthusiasm is infectious. Being able to see Lynne’s experiences through her eyes also helps you to see how humble she re
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Jennifer Lane
Dec 01, 2013 Jennifer Lane rated it it was amazing
What an amazing story showing the strength and fortitude of women. How Lynne Cox manages to swim in icy waters I'll never know. I remember hiding from my high school swim coach when the pool heater would break, and I can't imagine WILLINGLY diving into the ocean surrounding Antartica!
Janet
Oct 14, 2010 Janet rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: open water swimmers, anyone seeking inspiration
Shelves: autobio, water
I had to give this book five stars as I am in total awe of Lynne Cox. Before cracking the book I assumed that the title was a metaphor - no, she actually swam in Anarctica and get this: she swam in just a speedo as in "look Ma, NO WETSUIT!" Her ability to withstand subfreezing water temps underscores that she is obviously a unique physical specimen but more compelling is the mental toughness and singleness of purpose she displays in the pursuit of her open water swimming goals.

If I had one crit
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sendann
Feb 21, 2015 sendann rated it it was amazing
It wouldn't be a stretch to say that I get a little bit excessive in my enthusiasm for some of the books that I read. Fine. This book is INSANE. I actually cringed, gagged, screamed, and closed this book in terror several times while reading. As an athlete I found it deeply motivational and inspiring, in the inhaling the spirit sense of the word. And just as a person, it's so, so well told and exciting. This book is hard to stop reading, like one of those premium cable tv shows you watch all in ...more
John
Jan 11, 2013 John rated it liked it
I agree with another reviewer -- if I could give this book 3.5 stars, I would. Lynne Cox is an amazing inspiration -- she's the kind of woman you want to have dinner with. She's interesting, she's driven and she's experienced a lot more than most people will in their lives. She's swam in waters off Alaska, in a lake in Iceland, a filthy Nile River and of course, near Antarctica. Her drive, internal motivation, and overall zest for life were amazing.

I enjoyed learning about the early part of her
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Stacia
Apr 14, 2012 Stacia rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of adventure/outdoor non-fiction
Shelves: 2012
I'd really give this 3.5.

I (finally) finished "Swimming to Antarctica: Tales of a Long-Distance Swimmer" by Lynne Cox. Even though I enjoyed it, for some reason, I feel like it took me a long time to read it.

I was thoroughly swept away reading about Lynne Cox's swims in rivers, lakes, & oceans around the world. Wow. Her swimming feats are totally amazing. I do wish there would have been a few maps in the book to detail some of the bodies of water where she was swimming. Also, there were a f
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Tom
Sep 01, 2010 Tom rated it liked it
Shelves: page-turner
If the entire book read like the Prologue, titled A Cold Day in August, the reader could simply not put it down. This piece, published previously in the New Yorker, puts the reader in the freezing cold water of the Bearing Strait struggling to swim through the dense fog--wow! For me it evoked the treatment Sebastian Junger gave drowning in The Perfect Storm: a visceral experience conveyed so deftly that the reader becomes the subject struggling to survive.

Overall, I enjoyed learning how Lynne C
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Joanna
This engaging and well-written memoir puts the reader right in the water with long-distance (and cold-water) swimmer Lynne Cox. Every time I set the book down, I felt like having a hot shower or a hot beverage to warm up. The author does a great job of describing her mental state, her thoughts and feelings during a swim, and the crew required to make her swims possible.

At the same time, the author provides almost no information about her life other than the described swims. There's no descriptio
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Andy
Sep 23, 2009 Andy rated it really liked it
For someone who is not entirely enthralled with non-fiction, this was one novel that definitely moved me and inspired me in many ways. The writing was not top of the line, but when can a non-writer write a book with the tenacity and grace as some of the finest authors in the world? Exactly. So, going in thinking that this book is just going to be a good read and incredible, is the right frame of mind to be in. Being a swimmer, and someone who aspires to great heights, this is almost essential re ...more
Anna
Nov 13, 2012 Anna rated it really liked it
You have to read it to believe it - Lynne's swimming tales defy what anyone would believe is humanly possible. (Every time I shared stories from this book with my husband he asked me if I was sure the book was non-fiction.) Lynne broke the world record for swimming the English Channel at age 15 and went on to accomplish many first-ever swims around the world, including Cook Strait and the Bering Strait. She swam miles through foul pollution, blinding fog, stormy eight-foot waves, actual whirlpoo ...more
Don Becher
Jun 03, 2013 Don Becher rated it it was ok
I would actually rank this as 2 1/2 -- but not an option. I admire the author's determination and her feats of open water swimming are amazing, but unfortunately the book struck as on of those Scholastic Books we used to get in the 5th grade -- which is about the reading level the book appears to be. The events related surrounding her swimming career are, however, truly fascinating.

As a small aside, I wonder a little about the detail in which she describes her swims. Unless she kept a journal o
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Caitlin
May 04, 2015 Caitlin rated it really liked it
I am not what you call a swimmer. I know how to swim, but I've never swam competitively. Needless to say, I was skeptical about reading this book. I wasn't sure how I would feel about this book because from what I could tell, it was all about swimming. I was afraid I wouldn't understand a lot of the swimming terminology or connect to any of the events in the book. Soon after starting the book, I realized that I did not have to be a swimmer to connect to the author's life. Lynne Cox, the author o ...more
Jaylen Frisby
Jan 16, 2015 Jaylen Frisby rated it it was amazing
This book was a perfect depiction of a determined swimmer destined for great things. In the beginning of the story she goes into detail as to how her dream started, growing up in a family supporting swimming. Her brothers and sisters both participated in swimming on a swimming team but Lynee was different. She was always described as a great swimmer with body fat. She could not lstay in one lane, every time she progressed and moved up a lane surpassing every young swimmer she encountered until s ...more
Peter Rock
Aug 31, 2014 Peter Rock rated it liked it
3.5. I mean, you cannot contend with Lynne Cox as a swimmer; her feats are historic, epic, crazy. But the structure of the book is a little tired--each chapter takes up another swim, more or less, and much time is spent on logistics and planning and difficulties. Very little time is put into describing the swimming, or to reflecting on just what it is that makes a woman want to swim these distances, and in these temperatures.

It's also curious how what begins as a love of open water swimming and
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Maggie
Jul 09, 2014 Maggie rated it liked it
This was a terrifying, inspiring and amazing story. Given Ms. Cox's relative anonymity, I was ashamed to learn of the breadth and depth of this woman's accomplishments. What a courageous role-model and gritty individual, I felt like going out and exercising after just a few chapters.

The only barrier for me was the actual writing. It reads a bit too "matter of factly" for my taste. Descriptions are a bit too simplified. For example, when she describes overcoming the pain of a long-distance swim,
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Susan
Sep 05, 2015 Susan rated it really liked it
I knew Lynne Cox when we were young swimmers in Manchester, NH. She moved after 5th grade and went on to achieve great things. We learned of her breaking the English Channel swim record, then busting it again. I knew of her swim across the Bering Sea. What I hadn't realized until I read this book was (i) how many other record shattering swims Lynne achieved from the Cape of Good Hope to the Cook Straight and Antarctica; and (ii) how Lynne remained Lynne. The voice, personality and (near) humblen ...more
Christina Dudley
Oct 31, 2015 Christina Dudley rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Is it possible to admire someone, while at the same time thinking they're almost insane? I had those mixed feelings several times, reading Lynne Cox's memoir about her long-distance, open-water swims, as she set harder and harder goals, fighting hypothermia, political barriers, financial barriers, weather, and even wildlife.

The book opens with her mid-swim in the Bering Strait, of all places, not wanting to call it quits because glasnost and the Cold War ending depend on her finishing. I rolled
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Jacki
Apr 30, 2008 Jacki rated it it was ok
You'll like this book if you're a swimmer, an athlete, or need some encouragement to chase your dreams. While I consider myself an athlete (somedays) I was lost at times, not feeling any inward affection for the character to reach her goals, when they were goals simply to be achieved, ie, had no other purpose. But that being said, it was fascinating to see how her body adapted to the extreme tests she put it through, and to see her survive a trip to Egypt.
Diane
Mar 29, 2008 Diane rated it really liked it
Recommended to Diane by: Amberly's sister Kaitlyn
Lynne Cox's story of her mulitple swims in challenging conditions was inspiring. She was born to do what she does--that is, swim long distances (or even relatively short distances) in cold, open water. But how she has used that to bring countries closer together is the truly amazing part. Her humility in her accomplishments and her acknowledgement of the support her "team" gave her on each of her swims is a rarity in American athletes.

Chad
Jun 23, 2008 Chad rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone who has open-water experience or lofty goals of achieving an open-water experience.
Recommended to Chad by: Emily Scott
Lynne Cox was a very ambitious child and I can't recall ever reading of someone more couragious at such a young age. The writing isn't stellar, but I think that helps to portray the honesty that comes out of this book--like she has been holding it in for years and now all she has left are the essential details.

There are many of those essential details left.
Robin Hartman
Jul 21, 2015 Robin Hartman rated it really liked it
Nice easy read but very exciting! She swam the English Channel and set the record (for everyone, not just women)! TWICE! Lynne Cox is an incredible human being who was seemingly engineered to swim long distances in cold water or somewhat long distances in freezing water. The most entertaining parts of the book are her descriptions of her swims. It is hard not to imagine being in the boat next to her as she avoids sharks, swims with dolphins, and almost gets sucked into a whirlpool in the Strait ...more
Marty
Aug 01, 2008 Marty rated it it was ok
Man, Lynne Cox comes across as conceited and self-aggrandizing. I really hoped to enjoy this book, but was really disappointed. She glosses over many things that I'd really wished she'd given more details about. Redeeming factor: google Lynne Cox and watch her flop into the water during the 60 Minutes II interview she referrs to in the book.
Allison
Aug 16, 2007 Allison rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: swimmers
The author is completely crazy - she is physically capable of keeping her body temperature high enough to stay submerged in water at 32 degrees for an hour. But as a distance swimmer I can understand her drive to a disturbing degree. If you are an endurance athlete of any kind, then this is an inspiring story.
Mjtg
Aug 07, 2015 Mjtg rated it liked it

I enjoyed this book much more than I expected to - until she made her swim around The Cape of Good Hope

in Africa. She writes well, which I'm a little embarrassed to admit, surprised me. What I didn't like about

the book was the fact that a couple of her swims make her look, to me, selfish and rather stupid. The Africa

swim was dangerous. I can't even imagine going into twenty foot waves breaking on shore. The people

around her weren't thrilled with it and I feel like she was putting them at
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Michael
Interesting first person account of the swimming adventures of long distance swimmer Lynne Cox, who swam the English Channel in record time as a teenager and then graduated to other challenging swims, most involving very cold temperatures, such as crossing the Bering Strait and swimming a mile in Antarctic waters. It is an engaging story and makes you think about what motivates an athlete to take on challenges that are not only physically arduous, but are also life-threatening. The book is well- ...more
Jessica
Aug 16, 2015 Jessica rated it really liked it
I was frankly shocked at how much I liked this book. I just really like endurance sports and I loved that Cox was such a female trailblazer. Good, readable writing. It was one of those books that I was telling everyone about. Recommended.
Kathryn
Aug 23, 2015 Kathryn rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed Lynne Cox's book, Grayson, about the encounter the open water swimmer has with a whale off California. In this book Cox tells of the many swims she's done in open, very cold ocean water. She has dedicated much of her life to swimming in open water and conditioning her body to manage swims that would be impossible for most.

As with Grayson, I was very taken with Cox's commitment and love of swimming. Her passion comes through in both books. In this book you'll travel the world wit
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Jana
Jan 10, 2008 Jana rated it really liked it
True autobiography of "Lance Armstrong with body fat." This woman has swum some of the coldest, most dangerous, and longest distances of any swimmer ever. AMAZING. Fairly well-told, too.
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Lynne Cox is an American long-distance open-water swimmer and writer.
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