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In the Swim

A new book goes deep into mankind's connection with water

A veteran correspondent for ABC News and the author of books on subjects ranging from Susan B. Anthony to giraffes, Lynn Sherr is many things, including a lifelong swimmer. In Swim: Why We Love the Water (PublicAffairs) she has produced a witty and informative celebration of her sport, as well as an inspiring tale of personal challenge and discovery.

Sherr frames the book with an account of her attempt, in 2011, to swim the Hellespont—the turbulent strait, featured in myth and poetry, separating Europe from Asia—vividly conveying the scope of her journey from her local lap lanes to those storied waters. Along the way she immerses the reader in the history, lore, science and trivia of swimming.

In barely 200 pages of buoyant prose illustrated with photos, diagrams and swimming art, Sherr presents an enormous amount of aquatic info—from the origins of strokes and the evolution of swimwear to the physiology of Olympic swimmers; from the skinny-dipping habits of John Quincy Adams to whether giraffes can swim. (Yes, just not well.) Best of all, Sherr captures the physical thrill of the one human activity that takes place in a completely alien element. Dive in.