Swimming to Antarctica (Paperback)

Tales of a Long-Distance Swimmer

By Lynne Cox

Mariner Books, 9780156031301, 384pp.

Publication Date: March 7, 2005

Other Editions of This Title:
Prebound (3/7/2005)
Hardcover (1/13/2004)

List Price: 15.95*
* Individual store prices may vary.


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, where she swam five miles in thirty-eight-degree water in just a swimsuit, cap, and goggles. In between those accomplishments, she became the first to swim the Strait of Magellan, narrowly escaped a shark attack off the Cape of Good Hope, and was cheered across the twenty-mile Cook Strait of New Zealand by dolphins. She even swam a mile in the Antarctic.

Lynne writes the same way she swims, with indefatigable spirit and joy, and shares the beauty of her time in the water with a poet's eye for detail. She has accomplished yet another feat--writing a new classic of sports memoir.

About the Author

LYNNE COX has set records all over the world for open-water swimming. She was named a Los Angeles Times Woman of the Year, inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame, and honored with a lifetime achievement award from the University of California, Santa Barbara. She is the author of Swimming to Antarctica, which won an Alex Award. She lives in Los Alamitos, California.

Praise For Swimming to Antarctica: Tales of a Long-Distance Swimmer

"This would make a great story even if Cox couldn't write. But she can . . . She's done things the rest of us only imagine-and she's written a book that helps us to imagine them with clarity and wonder." -THE BOSTON GLOBE

"What emerges here is an athlete whose determination is so fierce that it seems almost exotic. She is fit. She is focused. She is Lance Armstrong with body fat."-USA TODAY

"More than the story of the greatest open-water swimmer, Swimming to Antarctica is a portrait of rare and relentless drive . . . Cox's understated style makes for gripping reading."

Thrilling , vivid, and lyrical, an inspiring account of a life of aspiration and adventure.

— Oliver Sacks

"All of [her] superhuman escapades are vividly detailed in Cox's absorbing memoir."

— Minneapolis Star Tribune

"An absorbing, well-written memoir. The paperback edition is even better than the hardcover, with more maps and photographs."

— Portland Oregonian

Gripping reading...Swimming to Antaritica is a portrait of rare and relentless drive.

— Sports Illustrated

Conversation Starters from ReadingGroupChoices.com

  1. What goals could Lynne's memoir inspire you to pursue? At the moment, what is your Antarctica?   
  2. Discuss the various obstacles you perceive in reaching that goal. Is there a common denominator among them? As a group, develop detailed action plans for overcoming these obstacles, using the short-term and long-range approaches described in the book.  
  3. What do the italicized passages tell us about Lynne's techniques in coaching herself? Arranging your discussion group in pairs, create messages for one another that echo Lynne”s realistic but encouraging self-talk.  
  4. In the first chapter, Lynne recalls asking a childhood friend for the secret to becoming a fast swimmer. Joyce replied that she simply did what her coach asked of her. How can we discern whether a coach or mentor is trustworthy? Whom will you invite to be part of your team of "life coaches"?  
  5. Swimming to Antarctica provides much insight into the art of persuasion. What techniques did Lynne use to persuade others, from Soviet officials to New Zealand fans, to share in her dream? Discuss the toughest naysayer in your life. Through role-playing, enlist other group members to explore the process of changing this person's point of view.  
  6. In her afterword, Lynne shares an anecdote about a schoolboy who asked her how she would respond to failure. Her solution is not to lower the bar; she even suggests that in such situations, perhaps the bar hasn”t been raised high enough. She prescribes learning from a defeat and then persisting in new attempts. What past defeats still trouble you? How would it feel to revisit this attempt, raising the bar even higher next time?  
  7. Lynne often dispelled stereotypes about gender and body type in her encounters around the world; her physiology was actually ideal for the challenges of long-distance swimming. Have you ever been "mislabeled" in a gym setting? How would you characterize your best athletic attributes? What forms of exercise come naturally to you?  
  8. Choose a physical-fitness goal that you would like to achieve six months from now. Choose an additional one that will require two years to achieve. How can you apply Lynne”s process and timelines to these aspirations? Her steps include acclimating herself, training in waters similar to the final course, and finding experienced navigators. What similar steps will you need to take on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis? What role model will you choose within this field? What world record would you most like to set?  
  9. For safety as well as inspiration, measurement and mathematics were essential to Lynne”s progress, from assessing her speed to undergoing numerous medical tests. Before embarking on any fitness program, you should consult a physician. But the consultation should provide you with more than anecdotal information; it's an opportunity to begin tracking all of the data related to your health. Create a notebook or electronic database that combines both your "vital statistics" and the progress of your athletic goals. Who will be on your team of statisticians?  
  10. From swimming in a hailstorm as a child to watching twenty-foot waves crest at the Cape of Good Hope, Lynne is continually drawn to the most dramatic conditions nature has to offer. How does nature become both her companion and her competitor? What do you think accounts for the distinction between athletes who excel in these rugged, unpredictable settings and those whose milieu is an indoor lane or court? What workout settings do you prefer?  
  11. Lynne relies solely on her body's own capabilities in reaching her goals, swimming without a wetsuit and carefully guarding her health before each event. What enables her to avoid the temptations of steroid use or other performance enhancers? In your opinion, what separates "purist" athletes from the rest?
  12. Choosing from the many locales visited in Swimming to Antarctica, assign a destination to each of your group members to research. In a subsequent meeting, share travelogues discussing cultural customs, cuisine, weather conditions, topography, and other interesting features.  
  13. The challenges described in the book range from the concrete (sharks, fog) to the abstract (distrust, lack of imagination on the part of her sponsors). What challenges were particular to each location?  
  14. Create a timeline of Lynne's swims. How have political conditions changed (if at all) in each of these settings since she visited them? What accounts for the distinction between stability and instability in these regions? What made Lynne's long-distance swims such a politically charged endeavor in some locations but not in others?  
  15. Lynne writes that her experience in Egypt taught her how to recognize her own limitations. What did the outcome of this particular trip also teach her about nationality, gender perceptions around the world, and preparing for international travel in general?  
  16. If you had an unlimited budget, which of the book's locations would you most like to visit? What would your itinerary look like? What items would you pack? Which traveling companions would you bring?