Why We Love the Water
By Lynn Sherr
PublicAffairs, Hardcover, 9781610390460, 212pp.
Publication Date: April 3, 2012
Swimming enthusiast Lynn Sherr explores every aspect of the sport, from the biology of swimming to the fame of Esther Williams; from turquoise pools and wild water to the training of Olympians; and she reveals the secret of buoyancy so that anyone can avoid the example of the English poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, who lamented, "Why can't I swim, it seems so very easy?" When his friend, the biographer Edward John Trelawny, said, "because you think you can't," Shelley plunged into Italy's Arno River and dropped like a rock. With Swim, you can avoid that happening to you.
“Lynn Sherr’s book, SWIM, will help water be your friend and it will be the best friend you'll ever have. I'm proud to be a part of that.”
“A collection of swimming traditions and anecdotes wrapped in a celebration of the pleasures involved…. Her enthusiasm propels the book forward. That enthusiasm bleeds over into her history of swimming, which has a gratifyingly great sweep. From start to finish, she searches for the essence of why swimming has touched so many, be it Oliver Sacks (‘I never knew anything so powerfully, so healthily euphoriant’) or Chairman Mao (‘Do you swim? Water is a good thing’). Sherr sends a sweet valentine, with enough background to keep it interesting, to a love that has never let her down." Wall Street Journal“What is there to say about such a solitary and inward experience? Plenty, as it turns out. In Swim: Why We Love the Water, Lynn Sherr… pulls us into the subject … and interweaves it within her version of a quest romance: Can this 60-something grandmother achieve her goal and swim the Hellespont—the legendary strait that runs between the Aegean Sea and Turkey's interior? ... Ms. Sherr writes personably and moves her reader through her narrative at a pleasing pace … What Ms. Sherr does best is describe the pleasures of the water, of finding yourself while losing yourself, giving yourself up to the supporting medium. … and every chapter of the book builds her personal narrative while placing it in the context of often fascinating mini-treatises on subjects that reach beyond the water. … She writes interestingly about women and bathing suits (Diana Vreeland pronounced the bikini "the most important thing since the atom bomb") and about the effects of water on women's hair, topics that become, with her attention, more than merely peripheral.” Sports Illustrated“A witty and informative celebration of her sport, as well as an inspiring tale of personal challenge and discovery…. [Sherr] immerses the reader in the history, lore, science and trivia of swimming. In barely 200 pages of buoyant prose illustrated with photos, diagrams and swimming art, Sherr presents an enormous amount of aquatic info—from the origins of strokes and the evolution of swimwear to the physiology of Olympic swimmers; from the skinny-dipping habits of John Quincy Adams to whether giraffes can swim. (Yes, just not well.) Best of all, Sherr captures the physical thrill of the one human activity that takes place in a completely alien element. Dive in.” Town & Country“A delicious, inspiring love-letter to swimming from former ABC correspondent Lynn Sherr. In between tales of swimsuits past and present, the stellar performances of Annette Kellerman and Esther Williams, and the magic of champion swimmers, Sherr chronicles her own attempt to swim across the Hellespont from Europe to Asia, following mythological lover Leander and romantic poet Lord Byron.” O Magazine“From the evolution of our ‘aquatic ancestors’ to the trauma of bathing suit shopping, these essays examine the sport of swimming from every angle.” Open Water Swimming, Steve Munatones“A joy to read … and re-read…. Each chapter moves smoothly and swiftly like the swimming strokes of the most graceful aquatic heroes and heroines. Looking down on each page of Lynn’s book is similar to swimming over a coral reef: you are not quite sure what you are going to come across next, but you are sure enough to enjoy it when you do. Lynn literally covers thousands of years of history, along with nearly 100 photos, engravings and images that like perfectly placed currents gently pushing the reader towards the end of an extraordinarily well-written and deeply researched page turner.” Cleveland Plain Dealer“Charming… Swim is a book-length love letter to [Sherr’s] favorite sport.” Boston Globe“[A] breezy, amiable meditation…. [Sherr’s] enthusiasm for the subject —‘I have never had a bad swim,’ she writes at one point — buoys us along as she interviews competitive swimmers, biologists, and the president of the International Swimming Hall of Fame.” Chicago Tribune“Swimming may be Sherr's salvation, but one needn't be an enthusiast to be charmed by this graceful memoir.”
“In Swim, a joyful plunge into the history, lore and legend of swimming, US journalist and avid swimmer Lynn Sherr explores the pleasures of gliding through cool waters while preparing to follow Leander and Byron and cross the Hellespont herself.”
The Economist“Ms. Sherr weaves notes from her year of magical training for the Hellespont swimathon into a highly readable celebration of man’s water history and the lure of the blue—what Wallace Stevens called ‘the basic slate, the universal hue’—that has attracted swimmers from Neptune to Nemo.”