“A fascinating and beautifully written love letter to water. I was enchanted by this book." —Rebecca Skloot, bestselling author of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

Humans, unlike other animals that are drawn to water, are not natural-born swimmers. We must be taught. Our evolutionary ancestors learned for survival; now in the twenty-first century we swim in freezing Arctic waters and piranha-infested rivers to test our limits. Swimming is an introspective and silent sport in a chaotic and noisy age; it’s therapeutic for both the mind and body; and it’s an adventurous way to get from point A to point B. It’s also one route to that elusive, ecstatic state of flow. These reasons, among many others, make swimming one of the most popular activities in the world.

Why We Swim is propelled by stories of Olympic champions, a Baghdad swim club that meets in Saddam Hussein’s palace pool, modern-day Japanese samurai swimmers, and even an Icelandic fisherman who improbably survives a wintry six-hour swim after a shipwreck. New York Times contributor Bonnie Tsui, a swimmer herself, dives into the deep, from the San Francisco Bay to the South China Sea, investigating what about water—despite its dangers—seduces us and why we come back to it again and again.

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Bonnie Tsui

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Review quotes

 “A beautifully written love letter to water and a fascinating story. I was enchanted.”
Rebecca Skloot, bestselling author of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

“The only thing better than reading Bonnie Tsui’s writing about swimming is swimming itself—and both are sublime. Why We Swim is an aquatic tour de force, a captivating story filled with adventure, meditation, and celebration.”
—Susan Casey, New York Times bestselling author of The Wave and Voices in the Ocean

“This is a jewel of a book, a paean to the wonders of water and our place within it.”
James Nestor, author of Deep: Freediving, Renegade Science, and What the Ocean Tells Us about Ourselves

“Magnificent. Only a truly great story can hold my attention and Why We Swim had me nailed to the chair . . . I love this book."
Christopher McDougall, bestselling author of Born to Run and Natural Born Heroes

Why We Swim is a gorgeous hybrid of a book. Bonnie Tsui combines fascinating reporting about some of the world's most remarkable swimmers with delightful meditations about what it means for us naked apes to leap in the water for no apparent reason. You won't regret diving in.”
—Carl Zimmer, author of She Has Her Mother's Laugh: The Powers, Perversions, and Potential of Heredity

Product Details
Categories
Number of pages
288
Publication date
April 14, 2020
ISBN
9781616207861