Journalist Bonnie Tsui’s relationship with swimming began before she was born. As she recounts in her fascinating consideration of the practice, her parents met in a Hong Kong swimming pool—a “bikini-clad beauty” and a “bronzed lifeguard.” Why We Swim is divided into five sections, each exploring a reason for humanity’s desire to dive in. There is a section on survival, in which Tsui tells the story of a man now known as “the human seal” because he swam in 28-degree water for six hours after his boat capsized. (Hypothermia should have set in hours before he reached shore, and all his fellow seamen perished.) Tsui also explores well-being, community, competition and, lastly, flow—the state of oneness with water that people find when truly immersed in the rhythms of swimming, something that Tsui and her subjects understand deeply.
The 100 Must-Read Books of 2020
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