People and Water: “Why We Swim”

Why I Read Why We Swim


I spotted this book quite a while ago as a new & noteworthy book on Lithub.  I put it on my list at one of my libraries, and weeks later it popped up as being available.


I wanted to read it because I like swimming.  I actually haven’t really swum in quite a long time, and this book encouraged me to want to try it again. 


To be honest, I wasn’t sure I would like it, but I did.


Why you Should read Why We Swim


This book is just the perfect thing if you read it in the middle of the summer, when I did, and it’s burning hot.


The book isn’t too long, but it’s long enough to give you the detail you want…or that I wanted anyway.


It has several sections that each deal with a different aspect of swimming, and one of the things I liked is that the section on competition is just one of many.


I like to swim, and I’m reasonably proficient at all the strokes…I’m old enough to even be a pretty good diver (they don’t teach it as much now as they used to because of safety concerns…but I learned to dive off a high dive at camp).  I never really liked swimming competitively though, and the one time I joined a team, I didn’t last long enough to make it to a meet.


But this book focuses on so many more ways to use swimming.  The two that interested me the most are open water swimming and swimming as a martial art.  No kidding!! 


I never really thought of open water swimming as something I personally could do even though I read Swimming to Anarctica years ago and loved it.  I live in an area with a lot of open water, incidentally, but it’s even ocean or narrow, passage like rivers and canals that are more suited to boats.  But I’m moving somewhere new, and I can see myself trying it.


I sincerely wish that I had known that the Japanese have a water martial art during the six years I actually lived in Tokyo.  When I read this section, I though, “Of course the Japanese have a freaking water martial art” because those people do have a lot of water, and they are very good at figuring out the “one best way” to do everything. 

Suijutsu (水術 or suieijutsu 水泳術, the Japanese water martial art. Click image for source.

Suijutsu (水術 or suieijutsu 水泳術, the Japanese water martial art. Click image for source.


It my sound weird to hear this, but this book is the perfect nonfiction book for a beach read.  I am long past the stage when I can stand to read anything that isn’t well written, and this is well written, but as I said, the author hits just the right level so that it isn’t dry nor is it too shallow.  And weirdly enough, for something that is essentially factual in nature, it is almost poetic in its style.


Which is what swimming is to me too.  It’s flying, but it’s not.  It’s exercise, but it’s relaxing.  I don’t suppose it should be, but it is.


More from The Lois Level about Swimming

Mermaids are not mythological, and they make great writers. Read on for proof.

They may seem cheesy and old fashioned, but I just love a good Esther Williams movie.

A real Disney classic…the Depression, Coney Island, swimming, and horses. It’s a true story too. Sometimes I think the Depression should have been called the Desperation because so many people were driven to do so many desperate things to survive.