Leanne Shapton’s memoir, Swimming Studies, explores the persistent inequity between swimming and other sports. Like many other swimmers, Shapton felt that no matter how many meets, speed trials or performances she entered, she would always play second fiddle to athletes in other sports.
Despite the fact that no one outside the sport talks about the Swimming Hall of Fame or the latest swimmer endorsements, swimmers know their sport has equal value. The lack of “sports respect” swimmers feel can be discouraging; however, superstars like Michael Phelps and authors like Shapton in Swimming Studies keep demanding the attention their sport deserves.
Shapton, now a Canadian artist and writer, wrote Swimming Studies to examine and remember her experiences as a swimmer. Early in her life, she made it to the Canadian Olympic tryouts in the breaststroke. Her experience gave her the perspective she needed to describe the life of a swimmer as appealing, interesting and deeply rewarding. The narrative dives deep, revealing Shapton’s dreams as a swimmer and analyzing how swimming fits into our human understanding of athletics and life. She supplements her writing with artwork that captures specific swimming movements.
If you want to feel better about being a swimmer and dig a little deeper into the spiritual side of your sport, give this book a try. Who knows? All of Shapton’s Zen reflection on swimming may even cut your lap times. If nothing else, you’ll have some interesting stories to tell your friends. Swimming Studies is available on Amazon for $19.