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My fascination with the sea and all things in it extends to what I consider the generally nuts people who do long distance open water swimming, my own open water swims are fairly limited to surface swims after mucking up my underwater navigation (14 years and I'm still no good at it!). So with some awareness of the challenges involved in staying on the surface of the water in all sorts of weather conditions I spotted this book in my local branch of Poundland and decided it was worth a try.
Prior to picking up the book I had never heard of Lynne Cox before which is prehaps not surprising given her achievements seem to have recived relatively little media attention in the UK over the last decade.
The book opens describing the first time a young Lynne was left swimming out doors during a storm, and the sheer exhilaration she felt swimming alone during the hail storm.
What follows is an account of an amazing life and sheer determination of a young woman to achieve all she could against incredible odds.
She and a group of other teenagers were the first to swim from Catalina Island to the mainland, she followed this up with twice crossing the English Channel, breaking the record for both men and women in the process, and then more notably being the first to cross the border between Alaska and USSR during a swim from Little to Big Diomede in the Bering Straight (where water temps were around 4c), and finally the swim for which the book is titled when she swam for over a mile in the Antarctic - talking about having to break sections of ice with her arms as she swam as though it's an every day occurrence.
Alongside the tales of the trials and tribulations involved with organising her swims and balancing this with her attempts to live a normal lifestyle as a teenage in high school and then university there are sections dealing with the slightly unusual physiology which Lynne enjoys making it easier for her to endure open water swims in particularly cold waters.
As a debut book I found that the writing was particularly good and in a very engaging style, I took just two sittings to finish this book which is around 340 pages long depending on the version you have. The book as it is a biography does include a small section of photographs, due to the time period involved these are all black and white but show Lynne to be the slighly chubby child she describes herself to be - at one point a rival long distance swimming scoffing at her ability due to her youth and figure!
I paid a mere £1 for my copy from Poundland but the book can be purchased from amazon from as little as 1p (plus p&p) at the moment.