Swimming to Antarctica by Lynn Cox

I read this after I signed up for the Big Shoulders Swim in Chicago.  My swim was 2.5 k in 62 degree water.  Lynn Cox’s swims ranged from 26 miles in 62 degree water to 1 mile in 33 degree water.  So she basically made me feel like a wimp, but I still enjoyed her story.  She defies human capability in terms of temperature.  Most people die at temps far higher than what she can swim in, but somehow her body can do it.  The book opens when she’s about 10 or 12  swimming at an outdoor pool where the temperature is cold and a storm is blowing in.  All the other kids are shivering and turning blue, begging the coach to let them get out, but she begs him to let her stay in for another two hours.  Soon after that she joins a group that trains in the pacific, where the warm up swim is a mile or two and then the workout begins–all this in water that ranges from mid 50s to maybe mid 60s.  The book then chronicles her swims–from the English channel (twice) to the Amazon River to the Bering Sea and many places in between.  She set records in most of them, and in the case of the Bering Sea swim, she swam as a way of connecting with Russia during the Cold War.  For any swimmer or endurance athlete, hers is an inspirational story.  Plus, you learn a lot of geography along the way.

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