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Download The Three-Year Swim Club: The Untold Story of Maui's Sugar Ditch Kids and Their Quest for Olympic Glory Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample The Three-Year Swim Club: The Untold Story of Mauis Sugar Ditch Kids and Their Quest for Olympic Glory, by Julie Checkoway Click for printable size audiobook cover
0 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 5 0.00 (0 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Julie Checkoway Narrator: Alex Chadwick Publisher: Hachette Book Group Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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For readers of Unbroken and The Boys in the Boat comes the inspirational, untold story of impoverished children who transformed themselves into world-class swimmers.

In 1937, a schoolteacher on the island of Maui challenged a group of poverty-stricken sugar plantation kids to swim upstream against the current of their circumstance. The goal? To become Olympians.

They faced seemingly insurmountable obstacles. The children were Japanese-American, were malnourished and barefoot and had no pool; they trained in the filthy irrigation ditches that snaked down from the mountains into the sugarcane fields. Their future was in those same fields, working alongside their parents in virtual slavery, known not by their names but by numbered tags that hung around their necks. Their teacher, Soichi Sakamoto, was an ordinary man whose swimming ability didn’t extend much beyond treading water.

In spite of everything, including the virulent anti-Japanese sentiment of the late 1930s, in their first year the children outraced Olympic athletes twice their size; in their second year, they were national and international champs, shattering American and world records and making headlines from LA to Nazi Germany. In their third year, they’d be declared the greatest swimmers in the world, but they’d also face their greatest obstacle: the dawning of a world war and the cancellation of the Games. Still, on the battlefield, they’d become the twentieth century’s most celebrated heroes, and in 1948, they’d have one last chance for Olympic glory.

They were the Three-Year Swim Club. This is their story.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “An inspiring true tale of grit and determination…Checkoway skillfully weaves vivid scenes into a larger narrative with a varied cast of characters.”


  • “A brightly told story of the triumph of underdogs…exuberant, well-researched…tense, vivid, and inspiring.”

    Kirkus Reviews

  • A 2015 Amazon Best Books of the Year Selection for Sports & Outdoors
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About the Author

Julie Checkoway is an author and documentary filmmaker. She graduated from Harvard College, the Iowa Writers Workshop, and the Johns Hopkins Writing Seminars. She is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts individual artist grant and fellowships at writers’ colonies, including Yaddo. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times, Salt Lake Tribune, and Huffington Post.