Swimming in the Sink (2016) is a bit of a departure for Lynne Cox. Perhaps best known for authoring books on her cold open water swimming feats, here Cox shares her journey from broken heart to recovery. Some swimming is included of course—flashbacks to a few of her prior adventures, but especially because “swimming” in her sink is how Cox builds back to ocean swimming.
This is a quick read, shared in Cox’s eloquent, quiet, but powerful writing style. Although it traces her journey from her incredible wellness of an endurance athlete to serious heart condition back to wellness, the narrative never gets too bogged down by complex medical issues or terminology. In fact, I now have a much better grasp of my beloved cat’s life-long heart condition, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, and why his heart meds have stressed out his kidneys, which are now failing.
Swimming in the Sink was a little tough for me to read at points. I am still processing my father’s death of past May, so the subject matter (her broken heart stems from the long decline then death of both her parents and her cherished dog in quick succession), was a little too close to home at the moment. Yet, the book was more often helpful, particularly how Cox handles many of the similar emotions, questions, and struggles I have had over the past few months. Most important, for me at least, is the very vivid example Cox presents that high level, chronic stress needs to be managed to avoid serious health consequences.
My quibbles with Swimming in the Sink are few and minor. Foremost, I understand that it’s an autobiography, with Cox still living her life (hooray!), but the conclusion feels abrupt and non-ending-ish. Second, I would have liked more on Cox’s condition and recovery—does she too believe in the notion of “broken heart” syndrome? Did her heart return to its original shape? And, what exactly did she do per meditation, “dietary changes” and such?
Quibbles or no, Swimming in the Sink is a terrific read, both to further understand Cox’s drive to test herself via cold open water, and of one common element of human nature—coping with loss. Cox is currently on tour with speaking engagements booked, be sure to check with your local libraries and bookstores! I’d love to see her in person too, but alas, so far she is not scheduled to appear near Reno.