For thousands of years, humans have been enchanted by the water. We swim in freezing Arctic waters and piranha-infested rivers to test our limits. We swim for pleasure, for exercise, for healing.

But humans, unlike other animals that are drawn to water, are not natural-born swimmers. We must be taught. Our evolutionary ancestors learned for survival; now, in the twenty-first century, swimming is one of the most popular activities in the world.

New York Times contributor Bonnie Tsui, a swimmer herself, dives into the deep in her new book Why We Swim. From the San Francisco Bay to the South China Sea, she investigates what about water—despite its dangers—seduces us and why we come back to it again and again.

Why We Swim is propelled by stories of Olympic champions, a Baghdad swim club that meets in Saddam Hussein’s palace pool, modern-day Japanese samurai swimmers, and even an Icelandic fisherman who improbably survives a wintry six-hour swim after a shipwreck.

Q&A With Bonnie Tsui

We caught up with Bonnie to learn more about her love of swimming, her writing process, and her advice for those of us who don’t have access to water as a result of COVID-19.

Praise for Why We Swim 

“A beautifully written love letter to water and a fascinating story. I was enchanted.”

—Rebecca Skloot, bestselling author of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

“The only thing better than reading Bonnie Tsui’s writing about swimming is swimming itself—and both are sublime. Why We Swim is an aquatic tour de force, a captivating story filled with adventure, meditation, and celebration.”

—Susan Casey, New York Times bestselling author of The Wave and Voices in the Ocean

“This is a jewel of a book, a paean to the wonders of water and our place within it.”

—James Nestor, author of Deep: Freediving, Renegade Science, and What the Ocean Tells Us about Ourselves

Win a Copy of the Book (Giveaway Closed)

To celebrate the launch of Why We Swim, we’re giving away TWO prize packs on our social media! You and a friend will each win a free book, towel, backpack, and one-of-a-kind collector’s tile. Enter the giveaway on Instagram or Facebook

Must be 18 or older to enter. Giveaway ended Monday, May 11 at 12:00pm EST. U.S. entries only.

Add Why We Swim to your reading list! Purchase the book here. Use code MYSWIMPRO20 for 20% off through June 4, 2020!

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