Lynne Cox: Swimming to Antartica

As it is book review month on the blog I thought  I would write a review of the first book I read about open water swimming – the wonderful ‘Swimming to Antarctica: Tales of a Long-Distance Swimmer’ ‘ by the amazing Lynne Cox.


It has been a little while now since I have read the book but there are some memories that really stuck with me after reading it and here they are:

  1. Swimming the Catalina channel is on the to do list

The first major swim Lynne did when she was just a teenager was the Catalina Channel.  Lynne’s description was really amazing and made me really want to attempt the swim.  I keep trying to persuade Manda but she says too many sharks, jellyfish etc!

  1. Swimming costume technology has come a long way since the 1970’s

Lynne’s tales of 1960’s / 70s swimming costumes make me glad for the invention of Lycra.  Lynne writes about wearing costumes and cut into swimmers so badly they had to pull them down around their waists when swimming long distances in the sea.  Puts a little bit of wetsuit rub into the shade!

  1. Reg Brickell is a channel swim legend

Lynne’s pilot when she did her channel swim in 1972 was Reg Brickell who was the pilot when I did my first relay in 2000.  He’s had a long career!  Lynne was still only 15 when she did the swim and she set a record time of 9h 57 mins.

  1. Learning about hypothermia 

I learnt from Lynne that it is when your hands and feet stop feeling cold you have to start worrying!

  1. Never swim in the Nile River

It is fair to say Lynne’s tale of putting her hand though a dog carcass while swimming in the Nile has stayed with me.  No wonder she was too sick to finish the swim.

  1. Swimming the Bering Strait

What I really remember from reading the book is Lynne’s passion and determination to make the almost impossible happen.  It takes a very special lady to swim from the Little Diomede in Alaska, USA to Big Diomede then part of the Soviet Union across the Bering Strait.  Not only was the water cold (6 – 7c) but it was during the Cold War!

  1. Don’t ask for a Babushka in Russia

At the end of the Bering Strait swim Lynne asked for a babushka thinking it was a blanket.  She was actually sent a grandmother (babushka is Russian for grandmother) who got into her sleeping bag with her to warm her.  We mermaids now always say we need a babushka when we get out from a cold swim.

  1. Repeating Lynne’s wise words

For months after reading the book I bored all my friends by constantly starting sentences with the phrase ‘in her book Lynne says….’

Overall this was an amazing and inspiring book and I would recommend that anyone interested in open water swimming gives it a read.

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