Swimming is the harmony of floating in motion. Much like running, it is a form of moving meditation. As a kid, I used to spend most of my days in, around, or near rivers, lakes, and the ocean. From building rafts with friends that would make Huckleberry Finn proud to jumping into the water with immaculate cannonballs from trees along the shoreline or simply swimming against relentless swell in hopes of catching the perfect wave. Water is freedom. Moving in water is the closest to feeling free we humans can experience. Recently, a wonderful soul gave me Why We Swim with a warm recommendation. I look forward to learning more from Tsui about our relationship with water. Understanding the psychology and philosophy behind overcoming our natural fear of water seems to me a worthwhile endeavor. Swell caught my attention because it tells the history of swimming with a focus on equality. Swimming used to be reserved for men only. Landreth tells the story of how fearless women challenged the status quo and fought for equal access to swimming. These women paved the path for many incredible female athletes. One of these incredible female athletes is Penny Lee Dean. Her autobiography Just Try One More chronicles the highlights of her life and her many adversities, but perhaps more intriguing she tells the reader that you can do it too. Lastly, a guide about books on swimming can’t live without the greatest swimmer of all time: Michael Phelps. His 2009 book No Limits takes the reader through the trials and tribulations of an olympian. It’s a blend between autobiography and revisiting his most spectacular successes at the Olympic Games.
Ballistic books is a series to present literature of interest. Each edition is dedicated to a specific topic. I found it challenging to discover and distinguish good from great literature. With this series, I aim to mitigate that challenge.
1. Why We Swim by Bonnie Tsui
Bonnie Tsui is a longtime contributor to the New York Times and an accomplished writer. She lives, swims, and surfs in the San Francisco Bay Area. You can find Bonnie Tsui on Twitter @BonnieTsui
2. Swell: A Waterbiography by Jenny Landreth
Jenny Landreth is a writer, script editor, and was the main contributor to the Guardian’s weekly swimming blog. You can find Jenny Landreth on Twitter @JennyLandreth
3. No Limits: The Will To Succeed by Michael Phelps
Michael Phelps is an American former competitive swimmer. He is the most successful and most decorated Olympian of all time. His foundation focuses on growing the sport of swimming and advocating for mental healthcare. You can find Michael Phelps on Twitter @MichaelPhelps
4. Just Try One More by Penny Lee Dean
Penny Lee Dean is an American long-distance swimmer and author. You can find Penny Lee Dean on Facebook.