Marathon Journeys

The Outdoor Swimmers' Library

Swimmer Peter Hancock gives us part two of the The Outdoor Swimmers’ Library, Marathon Journeys



Stepping out of the water after a long distance swim is just the final step in a series of events that have often taken years to plan. Funding, support teams, routes, permits, all need to be arranged prior to the swim. Then there is the endless training in all weathers to prepare the body for the rigours of swimming long distances- unless you are like Sean Conway and can learn on the way.

Books in this section of The Swimmers Library delve into the physical hardships, logistical nightmares, and mental agony that must be overcome to swim longer distances. These are books by the swashbuckling ultra-marathoners of swimming, who have failed repeatedly, but never give up until they achieve what they set out to do.

Books by English Channel swimmers will feature in their own special section of The Swimmers Library, so stay tuned.

Swimming to Antarctica: Tales of a Long-Distance Swimmer - Lynn Cox

Lynn Cox has done some amazing swims: crossing the Bering Strait, breaking records for English Channel crossings, crossing the Straits of Magellan, and many more. This book gives a fascinating insight into Lynn’s determination, the trials she overcame, and her elation at each success.

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The Man who Swam the Amazon: 3,274 Miles on the World's Deadliest River - Martin Strel

At the end of his 3274 mile swim, Martin Strel had survived drug runners, crocodiles, piranha, and had enough near-death experiences to write a book. So that’s what he did. This book describes Martin’s swim down one of the world’s most infamously dangerous rivers.

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Hell and High Water: One Man's Attempt to Swim the Length of Britain - Sean Conway

Sean Conway didn’t start out as a swimmer, but by the end of this excellent book he’d worked it out.  This is the story of Sean’s swim along the length of Britain. Armed only with a beard, he fended off jellyfish, and won over the doubters to complete the swim in 135 action-packed days. My copy of this book is dog-eared and ragged, and is still being passed around among my swimming friends with enthusiasm.

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Man vs Ocean - Adam Walker

Adam Walker modified his swimming stroke after damaging his shoulder crossing the English Channel. He then went on to become the fifth person in the world to complete the Ocean’s Seven, which includes crossings of Cook Strait, Tsugaru Strait, the Strait of Gibraltar, and others. This book takes the reader on through the storms and rough seas that Adam swam.

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Find a Way: The Inspiring Story of One Woman's Pursuit of a Lifelong Dream- Diana Nyad

Diana Niad became the first person to swim from Cuba to Florida without a cage. It took her 53 hours and she was 64 years old. However, Diana first attempted the crossing 36 years ago. This is a book about Diana’s tenacity at not letting go of her dream.

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