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Swimming to Antarctica: Tales of a Long-Distance Swimmer


Swimming to Antarctica: Tales of a Long-Distance Swimmer Cover



Reading Group Guide

Critical acclaim for Swimming to Antarctica: "Ultimately, Cox's memoir is about the joy of exploring the impossible. She's done things the rest of us can only imagine-and she's written a book that helps us to imagine them with clarity and wonder."-The Boston Globe "Gripping reading . . . Swimming to Antarctica is a portrait of rare and relentless drive."-Sports Illustrated "Thrilling, vivid, and lyrical, an inspiring account of a life of aspiration and adventure."-Oliver Sacks About the Book Before she turned twenty, Lynne Cox had broken the men's and women's world records for swimming the English Channel, swum from Catalina Island to the California mainland, and braved the dangerous Cook Strait between New Zealand's North and South Islands. But that was just the beginning. Capturing the thrill of a life dedicated to excellence, Swimming to Antarctica tells the remarkable stories behind Lynne's victories, which went on to include swimming across the Bering Strait-a feat that, according to Mikhail Gorbachev, helped diminish tensions between "Thrilling, vivid, and lyrical, an inspiring account of a life of aspiration and adventure."-the U.S.S.R. and the United States-and becoming the first to swim the Strait of Magellan (the most treacherous three-mile stretch of water in the world). As Lynne recalls the vivid details behind these challenging adventures, Swimming to Antarctica also reveals the humble yet undaunted spirit that not only ensured her survival but also opened the hearts and minds of those who cheered her on at every stage. Whether she is recalling her body's transformation in iceberg-riddled waters or a nighttime swim in which flying fish sailed overhead in a giddy cascade, Lynne approaches each memory with a sparkling sense of wonder. Hers is a unique story with broad appeal; there is much to discover about the world, and about ourselves, while following the journey described in Swimming to Antarctica. We hope that the questions and exercises presented in this guide will enhance your experience of Lynne's inspiring memoir. For guides to other great discussion titles, visit us at www.HarcourtBooks.com. Using This Guide Swimming to Antarctica offers a wide range of opportunities for further inquiry and reflection. So that readers may tailor their discussions, this guide presents various categories of topics covering personal growth, physical fitness, armchair travel, and a closer look at the storytelling itself. Championing Your Life: Inspiration for Personal Growth 1. What goals could Lynne's memoir inspire you to pursue? At the moment, what is your Antarctica? 2. Discuss the various obstacles you perceive in reaching that goal. Is there a common denominator among them? As a group, develop detailed action plans for overcoming these obstacles, using the short-term and long-range approaches described in the book. 3. What do the italicized passages tell us about Lynne's techniques in coaching herself? Arranging your discussion group in pairs, create messages for one another that echo Lynne's realistic but encouraging self-talk. 4. In the first chapter, Lynne recalls asking a childhood friend for the secret to becoming a fast swimmer. Joyce replied that she simply did what her coach asked of her. How can we discern whether a coach or mentor is trustworthy? Whom will you invite to be part of your team of "life coaches"? 5. Swimming to Antarctica provides much insight into the art of persuasion. What techniques did Lynne use to persuade others, from Soviet officials to New Zealand fans, to share in her dream? Discuss the toughest naysayer in your life. Through role-playing, enlist other group members to explore the process of changing this person's point of view. 6. In her afterword, Lynne shares an anecdote about a schoolboy who asked her how she would respond to failure. Her solution is not to lower the bar; she even suggests that in such situations, perhaps the bar hasn't been raised high enough. She prescribes learning from a defeat and then persisting in new attempts. What past defeats still trouble you? How would it feel to revisit this attempt, raising the bar even higher next time? Physical Education 1. Lynne often dispelled stereotypes about gender and body type in her encounters around the world; her physiology was actually ideal for the challenges of long-distance swimming. Have you ever been "mislabeled" in a gym setting? How would you characterize your best athletic attributes? What forms of exercise come naturally to you? 2. Choose a physical-fitness goal that you would like to achieve six months from now. Choose an additional one that will require two years to achieve. How can you apply Lynne's process and timelines to these aspirations? Her steps include acclimating herself, training in waters similar to the final course, and finding experienced navigators. What similar steps will you need to take on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis? What role model will you choose within this field? What world record would you most like to set? 3. For safety as well as inspiration, measurement and mathematics were essential to Lynne's progress, from assessing her speed to undergoing numerous medical tests. Before embarking on any fitness program, you should consult a physician. But the consultation should provide you with more than anecdotal information; it's an opportunity to begin tracking all of the data related to your health. Create a notebook or electronic database that combines both your "vital statistics" and the progress of your athletic goals. Who will be on your team of statisticians? 4. From swimming in a hailstorm as a child to watching twenty-foot waves crest at the Cape of Good Hope, Lynne is continually drawn to the most dramatic conditions nature has to offer. How does nature become both her companion and her competitor? What do you think accounts for the distinction between athletes who excel in these rugged, unpredictable settings and those whose milieu is an indoor lane or court? What workout settings do you prefer? 5. Lynne relies solely on her body's own capabilities in reaching her goals, swimming without a wetsuit and carefully guarding her health before each event. What enables her to avoid the temptations of steroid use or other performance enhancers? In your opinion, what separates "purist" athletes from the rest? Globetrotting with Lynne Cox 1. Choosing from the many locales visited in Swimming to Antarctica, assign a destination to each of your group members to research. In a subsequent meeting, share travelogues discussing cultural customs, cuisine, weather conditions, topography, and other interesting features. 2. The challenges described in the book range from the concrete (sharks, fog) to the abstract (distrust, lack of imagination on the part of her sponsors). What challenges were particular to each location? 3. Create a timeline of Lynne's swims. How have political conditions changed (if at all) in each of these settings since she visited them? What accounts for the distinction between stability and instability in these regions? What made Lynne's long-distance swims such a politically charged endeavor in some locations but not in others? 4. Lynne writes that her experience in Egypt taught her how to recognize her own limitations. What did the outcome of this particular trip also teach her about nationality, gender perceptions around the world, and preparing for international travel in general? 5. If you had an unlimited budget, which of the book's locations would you most like to visit? What would your itinerary look like? What items would you pack? Which traveling companions would you bring? A Closer Reading 1. Reread the prologue. What new significance does this scene take, in light of her lifelong journey? How did your initial impressions of her Bering Strait experience compare to your understanding of it toward the end of the book? 2. Discuss the contributions Lynne's parents made to her success. What behaviors did they model for their children? How does her story affect your perception of nature versus nurture in predicting a child's future? 3. How does Lynne balance optimism with naiveté and exhilaration with caution? What lessons does she share about being "fearless"? 4. How do you perceive the spiritual experiences Lynne describes, such as her receipt of a Zulu blessing and the dolphins that guided her to safety after she asked for God's help? 5. Though training was extraordinarily time-consuming, Lynne was dedicated to classroom studies as well, from elementary school through college. To what do you attribute her overall desire for success? Her need for a balanced life? What does her experience illustrate about the keys to academic achievement? 6. Discuss the literary devices that make Swimming to Antarctica such a compelling read. What correlation might there be between Lynne's skill as a storyteller and her skill as a long-distance swimmer? Do those activities share any common ground? About the Author Lynne Cox currently coaches in the corporate arena, delivering motivational speeches before numerous Fortune 500 companies. She was named Los Angeles Times Woman of the Year, inducted into the Swimming Hall of Fame, and honored with a lifetime achievement award from the University of California at Santa Barbara. She is also a prolific writer, with articles appearing in such publications as the New Yorker and the Los Angeles Times Magazine. Born in Boston, Massachusetts, she now resides in Los Alamitos, California, where she has lived for much of her life. Swimming to Antarctica Tales of a Long-Distance Swimmer 0-15-603130-2 $14.00 This book is available at libraries or wherever books are sold. To order additional Discussion Guides free of charge, call Harcourt Customer Service toll-free at 1-800-543-1918. 0-15-603294-5 Swimming to Antarctica Discussion Guide

Copyright © 2005 Harcourt, Inc. Written by Amy Root

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 3 comments:

Bonnie Marie, January 1, 2013 (view all comments by Bonnie Marie)
This is the true story of a long-distance swimmer who repeatedly attempted swims that were deemed impossible. At a young age she swam from Catalina Island to the California mainland, the English Channel, the dirty Nile river, and continued to swim many difficult, if not impossible, swims around the world - setting records as she went. This book is at times a nail-biter and always inspiring. It's certainly worth checking out!
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sea glass , January 1, 2013 (view all comments by sea glass )
Inspirational and empowering!
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luv2read, September 29, 2007 (view all comments by luv2read)
This is an excellent book! I don't think you have to be a water baby to enjoy these tales of soggy adventure. I love that this woman has accomplished amazing physical feats and is nowhere near a size 2! She has used her talents to open doors and build bridges across cultures and politics. She is a wonderful example and embassador to be sure! Well-written too!
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Product Details

A Woman, Her Dogs, and Their Journey North on the Iditarod Trail
Cox, Lynne
Moderow, Debbie Clarke
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Personal Memoirs
Sports - General
United states
Swimmers -- United States.
Cox, Lynne,
Iditarod;dog sledding;husky;Alaska;dog race;Anchorage;Nome;winter;extreme sports
Edition Description:
Harvest Book
Publication Date:
Electronic book text in proprietary or open standard format
Grade Level:
from 9 to 12
31 photos, map
8.25 x 5.5 in 1 lb
Age Level:
from 14

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Related Subjects

Biography » General
Biography » Sports
Sports and Outdoors » Sports and Fitness » Water Sports » General
Sports and Outdoors » Sports and Fitness » Water Sports » Swimming

Swimming to Antarctica: Tales of a Long-Distance Swimmer Used Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$6.50 In Stock
Product details 272 pages Harvest Books - English 9780156031301 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

The first to swim the Strait of Magellan, the Bering Strait, and the Cape of Good Hope, Lynne Cox, from the age of fourteen, began forcing the world's best long-distance swimmers to reconsider what might be possible in the water. Dive in and brace yourself for a thrilling athletic adventure.

"Review" by , "Even though readers know she survived to tell the tale, it's a thrilling, awesome and well-written story."
"Review" by , "An awesome study in immersion from long-distance swimmer Cox....An otherworldly existence brought hugely to life."
"Review" by , "Her wide-eyed idealism may seem a little corny at first, but by the end we're rooting for her, wondering if brave and mostly solitary acts...don't bring us together after all."
"Review" by , "[Cox has] done things the rest of us only imagine — and she's written a book that helps us to imagine them with clarity and wonder."
"Review" by , "More than the story of the greatest open-water swimmer, Swimming to Antarctica is a portrait of rare and relentless drive....Gripping."
"Review" by , "A tale of remarkable physical prowess and heart."
"Review" by , "Even a cursory read leaves one shivering for a warm towel."
"Review" by , "A triumph of a positive outlook, hefty preparation, and raw courage."
"Synopsis" by , Newly Illustrated with Photos and Maps Throughout. Here is the joyful, inspirational memoir of swimmer Lynne Cox. By age sixteen, she had broken all records for English Channel swims, so she set her goals even higher: She became the first to swim the Strait of Magellan, narrowly escaped a shark attack off the Cape of Good Hope, and was cheered across the twenty-mile Cook Strait of New Zealand by dolphins. Her daring eventually led her to the thirty-eight-degree waters of the Bering Strait, which she crossed in her usual outfit — just a swimsuit, cap, and goggles. She has even swum a mile in the iceberg-choked waters of the Antarctic. With a poet's eye for detail, Cox shares the beauty of her time in the water in this new classic of sports memoir.
"Synopsis" by , A captivating memoir of one womanandrsquo;s attempt to complete Alaskaandrsquo;s legendary race, the Iditarod, led by her team of huskies with whom she forms a fascinating and inextricable bond and gains unique insights into canine behavior



"Synopsis" by ,
Lynne Cox, adventurer and swimmer, author of Swimming to Antarctica (and#8220;grippingand#8221; and#8212;Sports Illustrated) and Grayson (and#8220;wondrous, and unforgettableand#8221; and#8212;Carl Hiaasen), gives us in South with the Sun a full-scale account of the explorerand#8217;s life and expeditions.
"Synopsis" by ,
andldquo;This book is as autobiographical as it is biographical . . . a book that juxtaposes two adventurers, one with her own challenges still unfolding and the other with his position fixed in history . . . a book worthy of the centenary celebration of Amundsenandrsquo;s trek to the South Pole.andrdquo;andmdash;San Francisco Chronicle

Today the North and South Poles are home to research stations and film crews, but just a century ago they were forbidding lands seldom seen by human eyes. Those who journeyed there were the last true explorers, and one of the most successful ever was Roald Amundsen. Known as andldquo;the last of the Vikings,andrdquo; the Norwegian-born Amundsen began his career of adventure at age fifteen and by forty had become the first man to successfully navigate the Northwest Passage, and to reach both the North and South Poles.

As a girl, Lynne Cox read of Amundsenandrsquo;s exploits, which inspired her to follow her own adventurous dreams of open-water swimming. Here, she gives an account of Amundsenandrsquo;s life and expeditions while detailing her own experiences swimming (without a wetsuit) in the same polar regions he first explored. At once a biography, history, and memoir, South with the Sun holds something for any lover of adventure.

andldquo;Not to miss . . . It's fascinating to read about the Norwegian hardman through the eyes of Cox.andrdquo;andmdash;Outside

"Synopsis" by ,
A captivating memoir of one womanandrsquo;s attempt to finish the Iditarod, led by her team of spunky huskies with whom she shares a fascinating and inextricable bond

At age forty-seven, a mother of two, Debbie Moderow was not your average musher in the Iditarod, but thatandrsquo;s where she found herself when, less thanand#160;200 miles from the finish line, her dogs decided they didnandrsquo;t want to run anymore. After all her preparation, after all the careful management of her team, and after their running so well for over a week, the huskies balked. But the sting of not completing the race after coming so far was nothing compared to the disappointment Moderow felt in having lost touch with her dogs.and#160;

Fast into the Night is the gripping story of Moderowandrsquo;s journeys along the Iditarod trail with her team of spunky huskies: Taiga and Su, Piney and Creek, Nacho and Zeppy, Juliet and the headstrong leader, Kanga. The first failed attempt crushed Moderowandrsquo;s confidence, but after reconnecting with her dogs she returned and ventured again to Nome, pushing through injuries,and#160; hallucinations, epic storms, flipped sleds, and clashing personalities, both human and canine. And she prevailed.and#160;
Part adventure, part love story, part inquiry into the mystery of the connection between humans and dogs, Fast into the Night is an exquisitely written memoir of a woman, her dogs, and what can happen when someone puts herself in that place between daring and doubtandmdash;and soldiers on.

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