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Swimming to Antarctica: Tales of a Long-Distance Swimmer

4.13  ·  Rating details ·  3,630 ratings  ·  623 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
Paperback, 359 pages
Published March 7th 2005 by Mariner Books (first published 2004)
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Jan 25, 2008 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
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
Jun 12, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2013
This is just the sort of memoir I usually enjoy: a person with a totally different comfort zone than I, achieving something remarkable. But this memoir is not one of the better ones of this type, because unfortunately, Lynne Cox is not an exceptionally good writer, and she lacks insight into what drives her to complete these outrageously dangerous, open water, long distance, cold water swims. She doesn't really talk about her life outside of swimming, and if that is because she lacked a life out ...more
Oct 30, 2012 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
Jennifer Lane
Dec 01, 2013 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! ...more
Jazlyn Perkins
May 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Lynne Cox’s story of her constant determination is something truly special. Lynne starts swimming when she is very young, and I noticed how dedicated she was to being good from the start. Her extremely detailed stories of swimming in freezing cold water for hours at a time are so interesting, and I found that I couldn’t put the book down while reading them. Lynne has set records for open water swimming all over the world. She has even swam in 38 degree waters, which is amazing. Following Lynne t ...more
Oct 01, 2010 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
Apr 30, 2008 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. ...more
Jul 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
WOW! I'm just so impressed by what humans can do and specifically what this human did! Lynne Cox is so inspiring! I was amazed as I read about each of her achievements. It was like, Wow! She beat the English Channel record at 15, but there's more... and more... and more... and more! So incredible!

Also, she made several comments about her weight, like, "Thank God (or Ben & Jerry's) for my body fat..." and later someone commented that she didn't look skinny enough to be a channel swimmer. So I lo
Patricia Burgess
May 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
Cox is/was the premier cold-water swimmer (in temperatures down to 32F), starting at the age of 14 with record-breaking crossing of English Channel. Her memoir more than documents world-breaking swimming venues, including Bering Strait, Lake Baikal, Antarctica, it takes the reader deep with her into her training, the near-impossible swims, the community of people who gathered around the world to support her swims, but even more importantly, the swims she chose to bring community to places in the ...more
Sue King
Jun 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
This book chronicles the amazing swimming feats of Lynne Cox who swam the English Channel, the Bering Strait, and other herculean attempts of open water swimming. In just a swimsuit. Her positivity and her beautiful prose make the book a pleasure to read.
Nov 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
I recommend it. It's autobiographical and amazing how strong and brave she is. I enjoy reading about real women who are able to do things I would never dream of doing.
I wrote the above words eleven years ago on an old blog that I recently re-read. I still remember this book and the positive impact in had on my life.
Kaeli Wood
Jan 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
queen of swimming with a rectal probe and ending the Cold War
Jan 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
Lynne Cox is incredible and so inspiring! I thoroughly enjoyed reading about her experiences and the detail she gives about each swim makes you feel like you are there. It also made me never want to complain about being cold ever again because I’ve never experienced anything as extreme as she did.
Aug 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
Read this for book club, I enjoyed this book much more than I expected to-about an extraordinary athlete and how her swimming broke records and helped bridge the differences between countries and cultures.
Mar 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
Lynne Cox is a long-distance swimmer who has set many records and firsts. This is varied collection of her swimming experiences.

There was something clear-eyed and honest about Lynne's writing. Her ambition and open-heartedness inspire me.
Nov 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir
My boss gave me this book to read as a professional/personal development activity. It took a little while to get around to starting it, given that I have a long line up of books of my own choice to read, however I enjoyed it far more than I anticipated.

Lynne's story is surprisingly well written, and follows a nice structure that has a flow that is not expected in these memoirs of distinct events (the string of swims she writes about). While these swims are all Lynne's own personal and solo dream
Mar 27, 2012 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 few p
Aug 17, 2010 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
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
Jan 11, 2013 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
Sep 17, 2012 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
Sep 14, 2009 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
Jun 30, 2012 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 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
Mar 17, 2008 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.

Aug 16, 2007 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.
Feb 13, 2008 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.
Aug 01, 2008 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. ...more
May 24, 2008 rated it did not like it
Instead of feeling inspired by this book, I found it grueling and hard to relate to. It was recommended by a friend who is a good swimmer with a go-after-it kind of philosophy. I was just overwhelmed.
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Play Book Tag: Swimming to Antarctica / Lynne Cox. 4 stars 10 21 Dec 09, 2020 02:24PM  

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Lynne Cox is an American long-distance open-water swimmer and writer.

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