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Swimming
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Published:
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group 2009
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Born in a landlocked town in the center of Kansas, Pip is tall, flat, smart, funny, and supernaturally buoyant. On land, she has her share of troubles: an agoraphobic mother, a lost father, and a school full of nuns who just want her to sit still. But in the water, Pip is unstoppable. Swimming her way from a small Midwestern team to the Barcelona Olympics, Pip’s journey is the story of a young girl with an unsinkable spirit, struggling to stay afloat in the only way she can.

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Format:
Adobe EPUB eBook, Kindle Book, OverDrive Read
Street Date:
07/14/2009
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780307271952
ASIN:
B002FQOI0U

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Citations

APA Citation (style guide)

Nicola Keegan. (2009). Swimming. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

Nicola Keegan. 2009. Swimming. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

Nicola Keegan, Swimming. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 2009.

MLA Citation (style guide)

Nicola Keegan. Swimming. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 2009.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2022. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.

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Date Added:
Jun 12, 2018 17:16:52
Date Updated:
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      • bioText: Nicola Keegan divides her time between Ireland and France with her husband and three children.
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title
Swimming
fullDescription
Born in a landlocked town in the center of Kansas, Pip is tall, flat, smart, funny, and supernaturally buoyant. On land, she has her share of troubles: an agoraphobic mother, a lost father, and a school full of nuns who just want her to sit still. But in the water, Pip is unstoppable. Swimming her way from a small Midwestern team to the Barcelona Olympics, Pip’s journey is the story of a young girl with an unsinkable spirit, struggling to stay afloat in the only way she can.
reviews
      • premium: False
      • source: The Boston Globe
      • content: "Keegan's energy jumps off the page. . . . Swimming is a wonderful coming-of-age story, a richly detailed account of a young woman channeling her rage, grief and insecurity into a passion to win. The voice Keegan has invented for Pip is sarcastic, thoughtful, elegant, irreverent."
      • premium: False
      • source: The Washington Post
      • content: "Comic and celebratory, full of the narrator's weird blend of goofiness and intelligence. . . . Marvelous. . . . You don't have to be a swimmer to respond to this story."
      • premium: False
      • source: Daily Candy
      • content: "Keegan's medal-worthy prose lingers on the tip of the tongue like a diver on the edge of the platform. . . . Fresh and spirited."
      • premium: False
      • source: Hudson Valley News
      • content: "Told in her own quirky, questioning and super-critical voice, Pip's story of finding her way back to a life on land is inspiring, a must-read for anyone who has, at one time or another, found life to be a challenge."
      • premium: False
      • source: Richmond Times-Dispatch
      • content: "Engaging. . . . An accomplished debut, as much about swimming as about what it takes to win--and lose."
      • premium: False
      • source: The Independent (London)
      • content: "Nicola Keegan's prose is filled with inventive riffs to draw out the poignant turbulences of her heroine, both in the water and out. Reading the book becomes itself like a long, sinuous surge through the pool. . . . A classy fiction about the tenuous relationship of worldly success to the intimate self."
      • premium: False
      • source: January magazine
      • content: "Keegan has caught not only the world of competitive swimming, but the problems professional athletes face when their careers end. . . . The prose is graceful and rapid, as if Keegan set out to write sentences as flowing as the medium she writes of."
      • premium: False
      • source: The Guardian (London)
      • content: "Keegan's shimmering, fluid prose is outwardly playful, yet this is a seriously well-crafted novel."
      • premium: False
      • source: Rivka Galchen, author of Atmospheric Disturbances
      • content: "If Jane Bowles and Gerard Manley Hopkins had a lovechild, she might just possibly write as gloriously as Nicola Keegan. Swimming is a novel for people who love donut holes, or the dead, or dogs, or nuns, or fat people, or world class athletes, or the English language, or pretty much anything. It should be read, re-read, dreamed about, quoted to friends, and enacted as a shimmery odd hilarious mystery play. Swimming is simply magnificent."
      • premium: True
      • source: Publisher's Weekly
      • content:

        May 4, 2009
        Keegan takes on death, religion, relationships and coming-of-age in her gorgeously stylized and irreverent debut about a rising Olympic swimming star. Not even a year after Philomena “Pip” Ash is born in 1960s Middle America, her parents put their rambunctious infant in a pool and watch the remarkable sight of a nine-month-old gliding through the water. With some help from “Olympic Supercoach” Ernest K. Mankovitz, Pip becomes a mercenary swimming machine who wins an unprecedented collection of gold medals in three Olympic games. Though Pip's connection with water is preternaturally intense, she can't relate to people, a dilemma heightened by early encounters with death and her innate awareness of loathsome pain and insecurities. After going through a premature career climax and the subsequent plummet, Pip is forced to deal with emotions she's spent her life ignoring; her sarcastic (and f-bomb laden) musings provide many amusing turns, while Keegan's linguistic playfulness moves the story at a fast clip, even if it sometimes muddles what's going on—particularly toward the end. This is worth reading for the prose alone.

      • premium: True
      • source: Kirkus
      • content:

        July 15, 2009
        Energetic first novel shows a talented athlete moving toward the Olympics and away from a Kansas family crippled by emotional instability and grievous loss.

        We first glimpse protagonist-narrator Philomena, nicknamed Pip, as an infant gradually adjusting to her family and environment. She's precociously skilled at demanding attention:"I've been experimenting with howling like a wolf," she tells us at nine months old. Despite the hovering, intimidating presences of her depressed mom, borderline-flaky dad (a research scientist studying bat behavior) and contentious sisters, Pip is soon garlanded with as many great expectations as was her Dickensian namesake. She's a physically gifted, naturally competitive swimmer who breaks local and state records while competing for her school and church before nabbing gold at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics and moving on to further triumphs. The novel settles into bristling rhythms that contrast Pip's conquests of the swimming world, college and even sex (which she has always dreaded) with successive personal crises and tragedies that shake her confidence, setting her at odds with demanding coaches, dictatorial nuns and frustrating boyfriends as she tests the tricky waters of growing up and making choices. Slightly reminiscent of Lisa Alther's Kinflicks (1976), though the sexual emphases here are more varied, the novel boasts as its best feature insouciant, perky prose offered in a rollicking, present-tense narrative voice. Too bad, therefore, that Keegan lets the story trail away after sending Pip to Paris for a period of self-scrutiny. Her conclusion offers nothing more revelatory than token acceptance of whatever the future holds for an athlete"retired" while still an unfinished woman.

        Flags a little at the finish line, but nonetheless well worth plunging into.

        (COPYRIGHT (2009) KIRKUS REVIEWS/NIELSEN BUSINESS MEDIA, INC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.)

      • premium: True
      • source: Library Journal
      • content:

        June 1, 2009
        Philomena "Pip" Ash's natural element is water. The moment her feet hit the pool in an aqua baby class, she knows joy and security. As her family careens from loss to lossher older sister dies of cancer, her father is killed in a plane crash, and her mother succumbs to a series of nervous breakdownsswimming becomes Pip's haven, allowing her to shut out pain and emotions. But no escape works perfectly; throughout all the training for competitions, making the Olympic team, and winning medals, she is accompanied by the ghosts of her father and sister. It will take leaving the water and moving away from family and friends to break Pip's shell of grief. VERDICT As narrator, Pip is an acute observer of human foibles and believably blind to her resistance to confront her losses. Still, though this highly touted first novel is a well-crafted exploration of grief, Pip's resilience and self-absorption may wear down some readers. [See Prepub Alert, "LJ" 3/1/09; 100,000-copy first printing.]Jan Blodgett, Davidson Coll. Lib., NC

        Copyright 2009 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

      • premium: True
      • source: Booklist
      • content:

        June 1, 2009
        Philomena Ash took to the water from the time she was a tot. For the landlocked Kansan, the local pool provided refuge from the raw realities of childhood: a moody, agoraphobic mother; a well-meaning if ineffectual father; and three sassy siblings, one of whom was dying of cancer. It soon became clear that Philomena had a talent of Olympic proportions. For years, she trained countless hours, endured long days in Catholic school, and crammed carbohydrates. Her father was the only family member to take a seriousinterest; a recreational pilot, he bonded with his daughter on jaunts through the boundless skies. When he died in a crash, Philomena was devastated, but she swam on, eventually nabbing 11 Olympic golds. For Philomena, everything made sense between in the water and between the lanes; it was relationships on terra firma that were troublingmen, friends, a family forever at odds. Though Keegans debut novel occasionally descends into melodrama, readers who have participated in competitive sports will appreciate her portrait of a very human athlete.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2009, American Library Association.)

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