For some reason I can’t quite put my finger on, swimming scenes in books I’ve read fail to convince. There are swimming scenes in Jennifer Egan’s Invisible Circus, in Lee Child’s Persuader, and in Ransom Riggs’ Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, which I’m currently reading. These are three very different authors and three very different books (a mainstream family story, a thriller, and a fantasy). The swimming scenes serve different purposes in the plots. Yet somehow, none capture the experience of swimming for me. Perhaps tactile details are lacking?

Can you recommend a great swimming scene in fiction?

Here’s my true-life swimming story:

When I was eleven, my parents sent me to Camp Cardinal for the summer. The camp, in northern Ohio, was for girls only and boasted horses, archery, hiking through the beautiful countryside, and swimming and boating on Lake Cardinal. The camp was perched right on the shore of the lake, which is a narrow, deep body of water carved out by an Ice Age glacier. We could step out of our cabin and walk a few steps to the beach.

We were instructed never to swim alone.

Naturally, when I had the opportunity, I swam alone. Everyone else was off learning archery. I hated archery. The bowstring always slapped my forearm. That hurt!

I dove into the lake, swam to the center, and tread the sunlit green water. Then I took a deep breath and allowed myself to sink. Down, down, down until suddenly the water was pitch-black and ice-cold and I could no longer see the surface. A primal stab of fear struck me, and I kicked and stroked powerfully. I regained the surface and burst up into the air just when I’d run out of breath.

It was terrifying. It was also thrilling.

I sank twice more and burst up, the fear and the thrill unabated. Then I swam to shore and went to my cabin and dressed in warm clothes. I was shivering. I never did that again. And I never told anyone. The counselors would have been angry and frightened. They probably would have forbidden me to swim at all. I kept my mouth shut.

The next summer, my parents took me on a family vacation to Washington D.C. The hotel had a great swimming pool, turquoise and well-lit. I headed for the nine-foot deep end. I wanted the experience of sinking, then bursting powerfully up. I could sink to the pool’s bottom, look up and see the sunlit surface, and push up off the concrete, regaining the surface, taking a deep breath, and sinking again. I performed this move maybe half a dozen times, thoroughly enjoying myself, when a man suddenly appeared in the water beside me. He seized me in an armlock and hauled me to the shallow end. When I could stand, I said to him with irritation, “What are you doing? I was playing a game.”

He looked at me, outraged, and said, “I thought you were drowning.”

Oh.

He climbed out, grabbed his towel, and stomped off.

I never played the sinking game again.

Do you have a swimming story?

From the author of Summer Of Love (a Philip K. Dick Award Finalist and San Francisco Chronicle Recommended Book). On BarnesandNoble, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Smashwords, Apple, and Kobo. On Kindle in Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, India, Mexico, and Netherlands.

The Gilded Age (a New York Times Notable Book and New York Public Library Recommended Book). On BarnesandNoble, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Apple, Kobo, and Smashwords. On Kindle in Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, India, Mexico, and Netherlands.

One Day in the Life of Alexa on  US Kindle, UK Kindle, Canada Kindle, Australia Kindle, France Kindle, Germany Kindle, Italy Kindle, Netherlands Kindle, Spain Kindle, Brazil Kindle, Mexico Kindle, India Kindle, and Japan Kindle.

Arachne (a Locus Hardcover Bestseller). On US Kindle, UK Kindle, Canada Kindle, Australia Kindle, Barnes and Noble, Apple, Kobo, and Smashwords. On Kindle on  France Kindle, Germany Kindle, Italy Kindle, Netherlands Kindle, Spain Kindle, Mexico Kindle, Brazil Kindle, India Kindle, and Japan Kindle.

Cyberweb on US Kindle, BarnesandNoble, Apple, Kobo, and Smashwords. And on UK Kindle, Canada Kindle, Australia Kindle, Brazil Kindle, France Kindle, Germany Kindle, India Kindle, Italy Kindle, Japan Kindle, Mexico Kindle, Netherlands Kindle, and Spain Kindle.

Strange Ladies: 7 Stories. On Nook, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Smashwords, Apple, and Kobo. On Kindle in Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, India, Mexico, and Netherlands.

The Garden of Abracadabra On BarnesandNoble, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Apple, Kobo, and Smashwords. On Kindle in Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, India, Mexico, and Netherlands.

Celestial Girl, The Omnibus Edition (A Lily Modjeska Mystery). On Nook, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Smashwords, Apple, and Kobo. On Kindle in Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, India, Mexico, and Netherlands.

Shaken On BarnesandNoble, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Apple, Kobo, and Smashwords. Also on Kindle in Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, India, Mexico, and Netherlands.

Hummers On BarnesandNoble, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Apple, Kobo, and Smashwords. Also on Kindle in Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, and India.

Daughter of the Tao. On US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, BarnesandNoble, Apple, Kobo, and Smashwords. Also on Kindle in Australia,  France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, India, Mexico, and Netherlands.

Every Mystery Unexplained. On BarnesandNoble, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Apple, Kobo, and Smashwords. Also on Kindle in Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, and India.

Tomorrow’s Child. On BarnesandNoble, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Apple, Kobo, and Smashwords. Also on Kindle in Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, India, Mexico, and Netherlands.

The Sixty-third Anniversary of Hysteria. On BarnesandNoble, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Apple, Kobo, and Smashwords. Also on Kindle in Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, and India.

U F uh-O. On BarnesandNoble, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Apple, Kobo, and Smashwords. Also on Kindle in Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, and India.

Tesla, A Screenplay. On US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, BarnesandNoble, Apple, Kobo, and Smashwords. Also on Kindle in Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, and India.

My Charlotte: Patty’s Story. On Barnes and Noble, US Kindle, UK Kindle, Canada Kindle, Australia Kindle, Smashwords, Apple, and Kobo. On Kindle in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, Netherlands, and Mexico.

“Illyria, My Love” is on US Kindle, Barnes and Noble, Apple, Kobo, and Smashwords. Also on UK Kindle, Canada Kindle, Australia Kindle, Germany Kindle, France Kindle, Spain Kindle, Italy Kindle, Netherlands Kindle, Japan Kindle, Brazil Kindle, Mexico Kindle, and India Kindle.

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