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Extended Audio Sample Swimming: A Novel Audiobook, by Nicola Keegan Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (680 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Nicola Keegan Narrator: Aya Cash Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: July 2009 ISBN: 9780743597586
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A ferociously original novel, sparkling with wit and blazing with emotion, from a gifted new novelist.

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.

Swimming 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.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “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.” 

    Judy Blume

  • “Ravishing…[Keegan’s] less interested in anatomizing championship swimming than in surveying the emotional landscape of her singular participant, which she maps with gorgeous technique and a life-giving quotient of snark.” 

    New York Times

  • “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.” 

    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.” 

    Washington Post

  • A 2009 Time Magazine Top 10 Book for Fiction

Listener Opinions

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Caitlyn | 2/20/2014

    " The book was well-written for what it was but it is very odd. The story parts were as disjointed as the main character. Clearly the point and a process that gave the character a really crazy persona. The problem is I tend to like books that have a flow, especially if I am listening to the on audiobook as I was with this one. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Erin | 2/1/2014

    " I really enjoyed the first 3/4 of this book. Then . . . .I don't know what happened. I just thought it started wandering aimlessly and never really came back. It's too bad because up until then I was loving this story. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Linda | 1/25/2014

    " First book, stunning. I really liked it. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Antonio Mariani | 1/12/2014

    " I am looking forward to read another book of this writer. I am a swimmer, but I can feel like Philomena not only because of this... "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Ann Longo | 1/11/2014

    " I read this book a year or two ago and just re-read it recently to try and break myself out of my post-Olympic depression. (Yes, I harbor an addiction to the Games often finding myself up at 5am watching canoe slalom or ping pong... er... table tennis). Anyway, this book is a fantastic story of a "damaged" champion. I found it hilarious and heart-breaking. The writing is incredibly innovative and thoughtful. Loved loved loved it! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Juanita Pryor | 12/26/2013

    " Swimming was an introspective & fascinating look inside the mind of a professional athlete. It's a heavy book, if not depressing, with bits of triumph woven here and there. Fairly well written, but the end drags on and on. Overuse of the "F" word annoyed me. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Alena | 12/19/2013

    " I loved this book for its differences. It moves back and forth in time just like the inside of Philomena's mind. Even though it spans 12 years, I was very much "in the moment" with her. For so many pages I thought she would jsut keep swimming back and forth and not moving anywhere emotionally. Then the breakthrough is so sudden and moving. Her life is not solved but she moves on into the unknown. Very satisfying. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Penny | 12/11/2013

    " Not even finishing it. TOO slow for me. I have been reading it a week and only on page 79. Maybe I just don'e get it. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Courtneyreedjenkins | 11/28/2013

    " Intense book. Started out slow with a strange voice. The voice didn't grow on me, but the story pulled me in. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Kammy | 11/28/2013

    " I liked the writing OK, and the story was OK. I thought the main character was interesting, and there are some pretty passages. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Julie | 11/27/2013

    " Only about 1/3 was about swimming. The beginning and end were more about her thoughts and family life. I thought it got very strange at the end, and it didn't end the way I had hoped. I would recommend it for anyone who swims competitively though. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jen | 9/7/2013

    " Excellent, very well done. Very different from other fiction. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Jessica | 5/13/2013

    " It felt strangely fabricated in a way I didn't appreciate. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Mary Rohrbeck | 8/24/2012

    " The beginning of this book was excellent and so well written but the last third just went on and on and on..... finally I put it down with 100 pages left because it just didn't interest me anymore. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Wisteriouswoman | 8/17/2012

    " Hated it after the second chapter. Just couldn't read any more. Totally weird writing style that kept the book from having an easy flow. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Marion | 4/8/2012

    " Still reading ; about midway. I'm pulled into the story but not enthralled. Pip's emotional roller coaster can be exhausting, but I still am intrigued enough to continue. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Selma | 3/13/2012

    " Well written and deeply boring. I just can't get interested in the world of competitive swimmers. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Ak. | 1/5/2012

    " man this started out SO strong. I was in awe of her writing, the way she chose to carry her narrative, and how richly painted her characters were, which carried over to even the secondary characters. but i all but gave up near the end. I found i couldn't stand Pip anymore. Bummed. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Anne | 9/27/2011

    " As a parent of a competitive swimmer, I probably appreciated this book more than others might. But I think this book could have benefited from some tighter editing. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jayne | 5/25/2011

    " The language is beautiful, and the details create an authenticity that connects character and reader. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Juanita | 5/19/2011

    " Swimming was an introspective & fascinating look inside the mind of a professional athlete. It's a heavy book, if not depressing, with bits of triumph woven here and there. Fairly well written, but the end drags on and on. Overuse of the "F" word annoyed me. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kelly | 5/5/2011

    " A fantastic debut novel that covers everything imaginable - love, loss, friendship, enemies, stardom, death, school, religion. Philomena's voice is strong and clear i this coming of age novel,and her her sense of humor, wit, and sarcasm add great depth to the story. This book is a treat to read. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Kammy | 4/23/2011

    " I liked the writing OK, and the story was OK. I thought the main character was interesting, and there are some pretty passages. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Gina | 4/1/2011

    " I enjoyed the writing, but I didn't really like the characters. I swam in high school and if I hadn't, I'm not sure that I would have liked the book as much. A solid three stars. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Chris | 3/6/2011

    " Enjoyable, but mixed. The narrator's voice is entertaining and mixed, but at times the plot lags - especially toward the end, when she is trying to find her way out of competitive swimming. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Whit | 3/2/2011

    " I stopped reading this. I'm not sure what all the accolades were for. I found the main character unappealing. I simply didn't care about her. The best character with the most promise was her father. Sadly, he wasn't in too much of the book. VERDICT: Don't bother. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kasurls | 2/17/2011

    " I so wish I could do 1/2 stars. This book gets 3 1/2. I really liked it, I thought it was well written and had some beautiful phrases. A young girl in a dysfunctional family dealing with death at a young age, and also a lot about swimming. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Courtneyreedjenkins | 1/25/2011

    " Intense book. Started out slow with a strange voice. The voice didn't grow on me, but the story pulled me in. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Julie | 12/30/2010

    " Tried to read this but the writing was so small and didn't really seem to be going anywhere. It may well be a great read but I didn't have the inclination to continue with this to find out. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Camille | 10/11/2010

    " Interesting getting inside the head of a swimmer. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Gretchen | 10/11/2010

    " I enjoyed this book on many levels - one being the reminder of what it is like to be in the pool practicing day after day...miss those days (in some ways), but also brought back memories of riding the bus to meets...cranking Ozzy Osbourne and Queen. "

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About the Author

Nicola Keegan, born abroad and raised in America, now divides her time between Ireland and France with her husband and children.

About the Narrator

Aya Cash is an American actress, the daughter of poet and novelist Kim Addonizio and Buddhist teacher Eugene Cash, and the granddaughter of Wimbledon champion Pauline Betz Addie and sportswriter Bob Addie. An alumnus of the San Francisco School of the Arts as well as the University of Minnesota, she has appeared on television series such as Brotherhood, Mercy, and three Law & Order series. Most recently she has appeared in The Newsroom, and Martin Scorcese’s The Wolf of Wall Street.