This is mostly not a book about swimming to Antarctica though that story is the culminating one in this book. This is mostly about Lynne Cox, a notable distance and cold water swimmer, describing what motivates her and some of her better-known swims. I had wanted to read this book ever since reading the article she wrote for the New Yorker, but I sort of wish I had stopped there. Being a good swimmer doesn’t necessarily make you a good writer. While I found most of these stories interesting, Cox has an almost Asperger’s-like way of telling these stories, always telling you what her core body temperature was and what she ate and drank before each swim and repeating these detals almost verbatim each time. The author she reminds me the most of is Temple Grandin. Also, depite having a team of doctors on her team with her, she talks a lot about her own folk remedy ideas like how maple syrup is good to drink before a swim because maple trees “use sap as energy” and I found this a little odd after a while.
I was sort of hoping I might learn more about Lynne the person and how she balanced living a real life along with all this high-intensity training and exercising but it seems like the answer is: she doesn’t. She has a small website without much personal information, she apparently lives at home or near her parents. She went on a corporate speaking tour where she commands fees in the five figures range. She doesh’t have a significant other of note. She has a dog. So, as a swimming book, for people who want to know what it’s like to do cold water swimming in open water, this book is great. If you want to get at the personalities or the science behind some of this -- besides the pretty basic “how to avoid hypthermia” -- you’ll have to go elsewhere.