Skip to main content Skip to navigation


Below are some useful Channel swimming /open water swimming books - enjoy (and all other recommendations welcome). I've linked as many as possible to Amazon, where you can find publication details and, hopefully, vendors.

Many thanks to Mark Robson for generously allowing me to pilfer the scanned covers on his blog to get this reading resource section started.

The Great Swim The Crossing Cold in the Channel Text Book of Swimming
swimming the Channel swimming to antarctica Nyad cover Dover solo cover
 Waterlog cover  black masseur  history of OW  Whale
America  Webb Two Faces  Penny Lee Dean 
Hetzl Nothing great is easy young_woman_and_the_sea.jpg Pugh cover
Swim art_of_swimming.jpg    

What I'm reading ....

Contested Waters

Jeff Wiltse's (2007) book explores the history of US municipal swimming pools. The book highlights the ways in which this history embodies gender, race and class - for example, racial segregation.

snowboarding bodies

Holly Thorpe's (2011) study of snowboarding is an excellent example of bringing together social theory with a detailed study of the lived and embodied practices of snowboarders. In many ways, this is a good model for me in terms of writing up the swimming research, with lots of interesting substantive overlaps.

fighting the current

Lisa Bier's history of American women's swimming in the 50 years leading up to Gertrude Ederle's Channel swim is a timely reminder that Ederle, whilst pathbreaking in her own way, was also part of a wider legacy of early women swimmers who knocked down barriers left and right, and for whom swimming was also part of a much broader project of emancipation. A wonderful book.

Hahn 2007

Tomie Hahn's book, published in 2007, is an engaging ethnography of learning how to perform Japanese dance. She shows how the senses are engaged in complex ways to transmit embodied knowledge and to enable the individual to move from simple repetition to embodied performance. For the research, it's really helpful in thinking about how we learn to swim, and to swim for a long time.

Learning C

Greg Downey's book, Learning Capoeira (2005) is a fabulous experiential, phenomenological account of learning this Brazilian combination art form of dance, martial arts and ritual. He shows how the work and training involved not only transforms capacities within the game, but also impacts on how players walk, hear and interact in everyday life.


Following the death of her husband, Clive, in 2002 from prostate cancer, Rosie Swale Pope set off on a journey to run around the world. This is one tough woman...I felt cold just reading it (at the time of writing, she's going through Siberia). Amazing.


This biography of Gertrude Ederle by Glenn Stout is an absolute treat. It makes you realise just what a pioneer she was, not just in terms of swimming, but also as a woman - starting at a time when even where wearing a one-piece swimming costume was deemed outrageous, never mind swimming the Channel.