“Not knowing how to swim here, is like not knowing how to drive at the Indy 500,” wrote Lynn Sherr in her newest book, “Swim: Why We Love the Water.”
The former WABC television correspondent was speaking of the East Hampton area, which she calls home for most of the summer. Also given praise in the book was the town’s junior lifeguard program, which made headlines this week when one of its trainees saved a drowning swimmer. “I am so impressed with them,” she said on Friday.
Ms. Sherr used the lifeguarded, marked waters of Albert’s Landing Beach in Amagansett to train for the iconic Hellespont open water swim from Europe to Asia that she entered last August, in Turkey. She participated in the geographically and culturally significant event, “because I wanted a challenging swim,” she said. Water flows in both directions along the three-mile strait from the Sea of Marmara to the Aegean Sea.
She was also drawn to the history of the Black Sea region, including such events as Lord Byron’s 1810 swim across the strait inspired by the Greek myth of Leander. The legend had the swimmer cross the stretch to reach his lover, Hero, a priestess of Aphrodite, who lived on the European side.
The race, she said, was “one of the most fun things I have ever done.” The book gives a glimpse into the race through her thoughts while swimming it. Interesting tidbits from ancient times and historic quotes demonstrate a timeless passion for swimming. She covers President John F. Kennedy’s noontime naked swims in the White House pool, built by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt for treatment of his polio. The fun, light read also muses on the Zen of swimming and its health and longevity benefits.
Ms. Sherr’s other books cover topics far from her work life, where she covers politics. They are written about “things that make me happy,” she said. An ongoing project is her study and scripting of the life of Susan B. Anthony, about whom she has written a memoir and is working on a one-woman play. While on safari in Africa, she said, “I fell in love with giraffes.” That resulted in “Tall Blondes: A Book About Giraffes.”
Ms. Sherr will talk at BookHampton on Saturday at 5 p.m., touching on her passion for swimming, her experience of the Hellespont, and a range of other subjects from Egyptian hieroglyphics to Michael Phelps.
The author encouraged other passionate swimmers to follow golden rules such as “Nobody should swim alone ever, ever, ever.” In rough water, she said, “you ought to have a very strong swimmer with you.” Most important, she said, is advice from the film “Finding Nemo”: “Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming.”