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Swimming

3.18 of 5 stars 3.18  ·  rating details  ·  869 ratings  ·  212 reviews
Born in a landlocked town in the center of Kansas, Pip is tall, flat, smart, funny, and supernaturally buoyant. On land, she has her share of troubles: an agoraphobic mother, a lost father, and a school full of nuns who just want her to sit still. But in the water, Pip is unstoppable. Swimming her way from a small Midwestern team to the Barcelona Olympics, Pip’s journey is ...more
ebook, 304 pages
Published July 14th 2009 by Vintage (first published January 1st 2009)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,834)
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Erk Wyatt
Go Swimming.

There are certain books that make me into S-L-O-W Man. Stories that I don't want to end: Unbearable Lightness of Being. The Shipping News. The Wind Up Bird Chronicle. I don my goggles, stick my head in a bucket of amber and suspend time- trying to read as slowly as humanly possible. Add Swimming to this sticky note.

Ms. Keegan does a great job drawing the reader into her pool, letting us swim, and sink, with her heroine, Philomena, a.k.a. Pip.

Readers will need to keep up with the ace
...more
Katie
I wanted to rate this a "4" but I started liking it less towards the end. As Philomena (the lead character) got more mentally unstable, the text got more stream-of-consciousness-y and it started to lose my interest. I see where the author was going with that, but I just really wasn't following it as well (perhaps I refused to be dragged down into madness with her!) and I lost track of which parts were real and which were imaginary. That part started to seem like work and not pleasure reading.

BUT
...more
Linda Reminger
After reading the first chapter, I thought the book had a lot of promise. There was one great description after another of Pip as a baby.

"I have 7 chins varying in size and volume; crevasses things get stuck in that my mother has to excavate carefully after each bath."

"She leans towards me with a cotton ball dipped in baby oil, two purple sandbags of fatigue carefully holding down her eyes, and I karate-kick the open bottle out of her hand."

"If I fall asleep listening to the beat of my mother's
...more
Amy
At various points my opinion of "Swimming" traversed a roller-coaster veering from one to five stars: down, up, and down again. "Swimming" defies easy categorization, and is certainly not a typical sports bio. The swimming itself, and especially the Olympic experiences, are not the focal point of the book by any means. That is important to know, because I think that for most readers, their enjoyment will be in part based on how well the book matches their expectations.

Nicola Keegan writes in a h
...more
Denise
3.0 out of 5 stars Live to swim and swim to live..., June 1, 2009

This review is from: Swimming (Hardcover)

I finished this book a couple of days ago and had to give it some thought and reflection before I commented on it.

This novel, about a girl who lives to swim and swims to live, has a lot of ambition but somehow it falls short and sort of left me depressed. It's an incredibly complex tale of a young girl's sad coming of age and her relentless pursuit of Olympic gold in swimming. The story is
...more
Ashley
Okay, so it's a book about a (fictional) Olympic gold medalist in swimming. Hmmm. Snooze. Sports bio? Blech. But not so fast... the thing that some crankypants on goodreads don't like--that the book is not really all "about" swimming--is what I like about it best. Swimming forms an exquisite backdrop for what is really the story of being Philomena, seeing the world as she sees it. There are healthy doses of family drama here. I'd recommend it for anyone who liked Jenny Downham's Before I Die or ...more
Rachel Jones
Nicola Keegan writes Swimming exactly the way a person thinks when he or she is logging long hours in the pool. If you've ever swam competitively, you'll know what I'm talking about. Every thought, every memory, every conversation plus the taste of chlorine blends together in an internal dialogue that no one else can respond to.

This book is written entirely in that stream of consciousness style, which isn't one I typically like, but it works well here. I'm giving this book 3 stars on the streng
...more
Karen
I was disappointed in this book. I feel like the description on the book cover was misleading. As the title suggests, the book is about a girl that becomes an Olympic champion in swimming. It follows her life from like 8 years old to 28 years old. The book cover made it sound like it was very much about the swimming world and competing and the Olympic experience. But that was hardly covered. It was more just about her thoughts and feelings and relationships -- swimming was such a back story even ...more
Robin
After reading a number of positive reviews about this novel, I was sure to order it for my library's collection. And I was excited to get it and start reading it. But right from the beginning, I was having trouble getting into it. Maybe I had spent the summer reading teen novels and easier to understand fiction but I was having trouble getting through this novel of just over 300 pages. When I looked at the book again and I saw a piece of a review that mentioned the author as being the imaginary ...more
Cynthia
Pip is born large and loud. This big baby has a talent for swimming, though, that author Nicola Keegan explains well.

(page 7)"All I know is that when I kick, it moves me, so I kick again, liberated from my fleshy prison of gravity."

The side story of Pip's sister Bron's illness is told well and from differing viewpoints. We feel Bron's anger, her indifference and her frustration with her dysfunctional family.

(page 41) "The moon waxes, the moon wanes, Lake Shawnee's vivid green deepens into brown,
...more
Amy
There was a point last weekend where I was ravenous for this book. You know that feeling where you're kind of annoyed at life getting in the way of reading? That's where I was. I think it might have been one of those serendipitous reads because it pulses with a dull ache and sadness, but doesn't overwhelm you with it. And last weekend I was totally into diving in and wading around in the gloom and anguish. (See what I did there? I'm a cheeseball and I couldn't resist.)

I must say, the last 75 pa
...more
zan
I didn't think I would give this book five stars. At first it felt too cluttered, a bit pretentious, and a bit too precious. But reading this book was like running downhill - at some point it becomes so exhilerating, so terrifying, and so wonderful that you have to exclaim out loud.
Terry
WHY do children have to raise their parents?
Kate Z
I read this book to be inspired, to catch at little bit of "Olympic Fever." I hoped to get a glimpse into the life of Olympic hopeful, a taste of the Olympics. Instead I was depressed and brought down by the overwhelming weight of the world that tends to creep into ordinary lives - even Olympians, it seems, have family problems and trouble liking themselves.

The fact that the abstract of this book here on GoodReads is a gushing quote by Judy Blume just about sums up my experience of the book. Tee
...more
Angela
In a stunning three-hundred page novel, Keegan is able to pull together the struggles of a world-class, Olympic champion swimmer. From deaths of family members at a young age, the sufferings of a Christian school, the stressful training brought on by an elite coach, Philomena Ash kicks through her life like a dolphin accidentally born human. She is charismatic, spirited, and intelligent, bound for great successes regardless of her families seemingly unsolvable problems. As a no-name Kansan, Pip, ...more
Allison
The first two-thirds of this book were right on the mark: it's a book about swimming, family dynamics, and growing up. We follow the main character, Pip, through her childhood and adolescence as she deals with her sister's debilitating illness and depression, her mother's agoraphobia, and her father's virtual withdrawal from the family by catapulting herself into the world of competitive swimming.

Having been a swimmer myself, I found the various passages describing swimming and the feeling of "h

...more
Marci
I read a review of this book in Time magazine, and just knew I had to read it! It it told from the point of view of Philomena, an Olympic gold-medalist in swimming, at one point the fastest female swimmer in the world. It isn't just from her point of view, the entire book is told from her internal monologue (stream-of-consciousness, if I remember right from English class?)

The book follows her from her early years, to her young adulthood and rise as a world-class competitive swimmer. She grows up
...more
Izzybizzy
Also eigentlich wollte ich mit dem Buch längst fertig sein. Aber schon nach kurzer Zeit stellte sich heraus, dass es nicht möglich ist, mal eben ein paar Seiten zu lesen. Wenn man das Buch zur Hand nimmt, muss man voll dabei sein, um alles zu erfassen.
Der Klappentext verrät zu diesem Buch:
"Boo, Mena, Phil oder Pip – Philomena hat eine Menge Namen und keinen leichten Stand: Ins Haus eines Fledermausforschers hineingeboren zu werden ist das eine. Dort – und noch dazu in Kansas – inmitten einer exz
...more
Eric Gillis
Génial ! Un univers et une écriture d'une grande cohérence. Ai dévoré les 425 (grande) pages (et petits caractères) de ce récit en 48 heures, presque d'une traite (deux ans qu'il traîne dans la grande pile de livres à lire). Bien sûr c'est tragique, des fois burlesques, tiré par les cheveux, trop construit. La mélodie du Bonheur est très loin. La religion est proche, la campagne US aussi, loin de tout. La fuite, l'évasion en haute profondeur dans le bleu chaud et doux d'un bassin olympique, la v ...more
Elizabeth
I first read about "Swimming" in Poets and Writers magazine. Nicola Keegan was featured in the magazine's "First-Fiction Annual.” I read the opening paragraphs there and was intrigued by the voice of the character Philomena (a.ka. Pip). This was a good thing, as the whole of “Swimming” seems to take place within Pip’s head. But more on that later.

“Swimming” chronicles Pip’s rise as a swimming superstar-- over the course of the book she makes it to three Olympics and pulls in an unprecedented nu
...more
Bethany Miller
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Amy
Apr 17, 2014 Amy rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: no one.
This book is not about swimming, the sport. It is about swimming around in your own head as you deal with undiagnosed mental health issues.

Sure, there are a handful of pool scenes. But nothing that resembles anything written by someone who has swam.

Most of the book is comprised of Catholic guilt scenes and general reverberations from an education by nuns, followed by the revelation in the back half that she may suffer from some of the same mental health issues as her mother and together, but o
...more
Carla
I had a love, hate, really-love relationship with this book. The somewhat cryptic reviews grabbed my curiosity. This is definitely a unique story and it is told in a unique way. First, it is about a young girl with a complicated family life that finds swimming as her salvation. She loves to swim and it ultimately saves (and then, perhaps, fails) her. Then, the focus of the uniqueness of this novel is that the story is told from the perspective of the adolescent girl, Philomena=Pip, as she is agi ...more
Christy
Apr 21, 2011 Christy rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Christy by: Random House newsletter
“I’m going to live each day as though it contains meaning.” This is what sustains 12-time Olympic gold medalist swimmer Philomena Ash. When she’s a teenager, she loses her older sister and her father in a short time. In order to cope, Pip (ironic nickname due to her 6’ 2” height) throws herself into swimming while her family collapses around her. In a largely dysfunctional family, swimming is her only reprieve. Keegan delves into a family coping with depression in their own ways, mostly through ...more
Claire
Carrie just wrote a review that talked about how "...everything is just sort of bleak. None of the characters ever seem to feel much emotion and they have these empty lives and constantly fail to truly connect with each other. Since my life doesn't feel like that, this book didn't really resonate with me." This is much how I felt with this book.
It also felt like the whole book takes place underwater- which, I guess, is an admirable feat for a book about swimming. But it just really made every f
...more
Jennifer
3 and a half stars. Nicola Keegan has a very unique style of writing and her similes are absolutely amazing. She really made me stop and think quite a few times with sentences such as "death can waltz into life with a sharp pair of scissors, cutting someone out so neatly that all that's left is an empty space". Wow.
Keegan's first novel follows the life of Philomena, a water baby bound to break world records and swim her way to three Olympics. Mostly, though, it is the story of her highly dysfun
...more
Katie
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Joe Fraser
This beautiful book evoked every emotion I have, but what I loved most was the author's genius for getting deeply into her heroine's character. She presented Mena's point of view from a variety of unique angles, all with an authentic feel, beginning with the very first chapter when I saw the world through an infant's eyes.

While on one level, Swimming can be summarized as the rise and fall of an Olympic champion, it's really a story about a dysfunctional girl from a dysfunctional family. Tragedy
...more
Rachel C.
I picked this up because I thought it'd be a fun read during the Olympics.

The underlying story is that swimming is a refuge for Philomena when her family life is a landfill of tragedy. Yet, despite this premise (and, um, the title of the book), the author doesn't seem very interested in swimming at all. Philomena doesn't get to her first Olympics until halfway through the book. The Barcelona Olympics is covered in a scant 15 pages. Most of the time, you don't even know what event she's swimming
...more
Rachel
The author seems obsessed with female genitalia for no obvious reason. She also has a problem with fat people. Beyond those two rather significant turnoffs I thought the book was badly written and confusing. Too many characters to keep straight - badly inserted flashbacks. I do not recommend.
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