Lynne Cox is an elite athlete who broke many world records, among them swimming the English Channel at fifteen, being the first woman to swim across Cook Strait (eighteen miles), and being the first to swim off Antarctica in 32-degree water--for twenty-five minutes --all without a wetsuit.
And that's where Swimming in the Sink begins--at a laboratory at the University of London, with Cox's hand in ice-cold water, hooked up to thermocouples and probes, with three scientists trying to make sense of her extraordinary human capabilities. The test results paved the way for new medical and life-saving practices.
As an athlete, Cox had put her heart into everything she'd ever accomplished. In turn her heart gave her great physical strength and endurance.
In the midst of becoming the embodiment of a supreme endurance athlete, Cox took care of her elderly parents, both of whom passed away in quick succession, followed by the death of her beloved Labrador retriever, leaving Lynne in shock from loss and loneliness and soon literally suffering from the debilitating effects of a broken heart.
On the edge of a precipice, Cox was diagnosed with atrial fibrillation (AFib). As the prognosis went from bad to worse, Cox was in fear of living out a lesser life as an invalid with a pacemaker and a defibrillator and the real possibility of her own death was before her. Cox writes of her full surrender to her increasing physical frailty, to her illness, her treatment, her slow pull toward recovery.
In Swimming in the Sink we see Cox finding her way, writing about her transformative journey back toward health, and slowly moving toward the one aspect of her life that meant everything to her--freedom; mastery; transcendence--back to open waters, and the surprise that she never saw coming: falling in love.
- ISBN-13: 9781101947623
- ISBN-10: 1101947624
- Publisher: Knopf Publishing Group
- Publish Date: September 2016
- Page Count: 240
- Dimensions: 8.1 x 5.2 x 1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 0.85 pounds
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2016-07-25
- Reviewer: Staff
Champion long-distance swimmer Cox (Open Water Swimming Manual) has been inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame and holds open-water swimming records around the globe. The author swims, sans wetsuit, in some of the most frigid waters on Earth, including Antarctica and the Cook Strait between the North and South Islands of New Zealand. In her new memoir, Cox chronicles how her deep grief (following the deaths of both parents and her Labrador retriever) and a startling diagnosis of arterial fibrillation precipitated a severe health and emotional crisis in her life. “It seemed like I had to start all over again,” she writes. “I had prided myself on being an elite athlete, and now I had to start from zero. It was sad, sobering, and scary.” Cox vividly explains her struggle to recover after facing the options of death, a heart transplant, or life as an invalid. Two years later Cox began training again in open water, which began her return to emotional and physical health. Friends, faith, meditation, and counseling all helped as well. Cox’s narrative is straightforward and intimate, and she never succumbs to self-pity. This satisfying journey through a world-class athlete’s heart-centered crisis is a warm tale of recovery and even finding love. (Sept.)
Beyond treading water
Swimming in the Sink is a comeback tale told straight from the heart—the big, intrepid heart belonging to Lynne Cox. In refreshingly candid style, the legendary open-water swimmer details her many achievements and sets the stage for her greatest challenge. From setting a world record crossing the English Channel (at the age of 15) to swimming in Arctic waters without a wetsuit, she swims with a purpose, whether promoting peace between Argentina and Chile or calling attention to environmental concerns. In 1987, her swim across the frigid Bering Strait helped to ease Cold War tensions between the Soviet Union and the United States.
As an elite athlete with a unique ability to acclimatize to cold, Cox also participated in scientific research studying the body’s response to extreme cold, helping to refine surgical and emergency treatment for cold-related traumas. When it came to recovering from the deaths of her beloved elderly parents, however, Cox found herself suddenly helpless, gravely ill and frightened by her damaged heart. Its fitting diagnosis: broken heart syndrome. Medications for atrial fibrillation, along with exercise and dietary restrictions, reshaped everything she knew about her body. Her swimming life seemingly over, Cox despaired: “I did not know what I was. I didn’t like the way I was. I didn’t like what was happening to me.”
With the help of good friends and caring physicians, she uses the mind-body connection to lower her heartbeat and restore proper breathing. She tries to swim again—beginning, improbably, in her kitchen sink. Mindfulness and positive thinking, added to her athletic grit, help Cox learn what it takes to swim—and love—all over again.