Swimming (Hardcover)

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“I loved Swimming. It’s the most original novel I’ve read all year. I can’t get Pip’s voice out of my mind. Give yourself a treat this summer—read this book.”
—Judy Blume

A spectacular debut about the rise of an Olympic champion—a novel about competition, obsession, the hunger for victory, and a young girl with an unsinkable spirit struggling to stay afloat in the only way she can.

When we first meet Pip, the extraordinary heroine of Nicola Keegan’s first novel, she is landlocked in a small town in the center of Kansas, literally swimming for her life. Pip is tall and flat and smart and funny and supernaturally buoyant. On land, she has her share of troubles: an agoraphobic mother, a lost father, a drug-addled sister, and a Catholic education dominated by a group of high-energy nuns. But in the water, Pip is unstoppable. In the water, her suffering and rage are transmuted into grace and speed and beauty.

is the story of Pip’s journey from a small Midwestern swim team to her first state meet, her brutal professional training, and the final, record-breaking swims that lead to her dizzying ascent to the Olympic podium in Barcelona. It’s the story of a girl who discovers, in the loneliness of adolescence, in the family tragedies that threaten to engulf her, the resilience of the human spirit and the spectacular power of her own body.

A ferociously original novel, sparkling with wit and blazing with emotion, from a gifted new novelist.

About the Author

Nicola Keegan divides her time between Ireland and France with her husband and three children.

Praise For…

Praise for Nicola Keegan’s Swimming

“I loved Swimming. It’s the most original novel I’ve read all year. I can’t get Pip’s voice out of my mind. Give yourself a treat this summer—read this book.”
—Judy Blume

“Deadpan hilarious . . . fun and imaginative. . . . An ambitious and exhilarating novel about a girl for whom swimming is as vital as breathing. . . . The muscular energy of Keegan’s prose . . . works in bursts—short, punchy clauses and chapters—and Pip’s voice is wryly comic, even when events turn tragic.”
—Radhika Jones, Time

“You don’t have to be a swimmer to respond to this story; you don’t even have to be into sports (heck, I spent all of high school PE hiding in the marching band and I loved this book). . . . [The] tension between exuberance and despair is what gives this novel such reckless buoyancy. . . . Completely absorbing. . . . The book delivers some knockout scenes at the Olympics, enriched by Pip’s quirky humor about her competitors and the media’s inanity.”
—Ron Charles, The Washington Post Book World

“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.”
—Diane White, The Boston Globe

“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.”
—Rivka Galchen, author of Atmospheric Disturbances

“Nicola Keegan has pulled off a coup with her first novel. Swimming is as entertaining as it is deeply moving, a story of loss that is—against all odds—also a jubilation.”
—Lauren Groff, author of The Monsters of Templeton

“Keegan takes on death, religion, relationships and coming-of-age in her gorgeously stylized and irreverent debut about a rising Olympic swimming star. . . . Keegan's linguistic playfulness moves the story at a fast clip. . . . This is worth reading for the prose alone.”
Publishers Weekly

“A troubled child finds her natural element, swimming her way to the Olympics, in this shimmering debut. Young Pip relays her tale with such insight, you’ll feel you’re floating beside her.”
Good Housekeeping

“A fine debut novel about the making of a Olympic champ.”

“Nicola Keegan’s sleek–as–a–porpoise debut novel.”
—Cathleen Medwick, O, The Oprah Magazine

“[A] stroke of genius.”
Daily Candy

—Jan Blodgett, Library Journal

“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. And who hasn’t?”
—Ann La Farge, Hudson Valley News

Product Details
ISBN: 9780307269973
Publisher: Knopf
Publication Date: July 14th, 2009
Pages: 320