Swimming to Antarctica


I just finished reading the autobiography of Lynne Cox – Swimming to Antarctica: Tales of a Long-Distance Swimmer. She is a remarkable athlete with an incredible ability to swim long distances and withstand hours in freezing water. Her accomplishments start in 1971, when at the age of 14, Lynne swam across the Catalina Channel with a group of teenagers from Seal Beach, California. They swam the 27 mile crossing in 12 hours and 36 minutes. She held back waiting for her teammates. But the seed was planted for her bigger adventures.

At age 15 Lynne swam across the English Channel and shattered the men’s and women’s world records with a time of 9 hours and 57 minutes. When that record was broken, she returned the next year and broke the world record for the English Channel a second time with a time of 9 hours and 36 minutes.

She went on to bigger and bigger adventures, breaking more swimming barriers. Her writing is very matter of fact. Sometimes just a brief mention of some crazy swim. The book fails to get at the core of what motivates her and interests her in swimming long distances. Her remarkable achievements carry you through the narrative.

The last swim in the book gives the book its name as she swims a mile from a ship to the Antarctic shore. The more interesting swim is across the Bering Strait at the end of the Cold War. She swims five miles in thirty-eight-degree water in just a swimsuit, cap, and goggles from Little Diomede Island in Alaska to Big Diomede Island in the Soviet Union.

Although the writing is a bit plain, it is filled with joy and a sense of adventure. All of the tales are stirring and heart-warming. A worthwhile read.