"Where the Crazy People Swim" - new book about marathon swimming

South End Rowing Club member and recent North Channel soloist Steve Walker has written a book about marathon swimming:

Where the Crazy People Swim: Outrageous goals, failure, and success

Here's the Amazon description:

Cold-water ultra-marathon swimming is about as tough as it gets. When looking at swims, you ask if anyone has done it, if there are jellyfish, and if anyone has died trying it. On most swims, failure is more likely than success. What drives a person to swim long distances in cold water? Why attempt something could kill you? Where the Crazy People Swim lays bare the mind of a swimmer who honestly and candidly describes his fears, his motivations, and his ultimate goal—not only in swimming, but in life. While covered by a veneer of swimming and honesty about failure both in the water and out, this book is about setting outrageous goals and the definition of success.

I asked Steve to write a brief intro for Forum members, and here it is:

This book is written for anyone aspiring to swim long distances in cold water. For anyone who has done a channel or another similar long swim (or many of them), the stories will resonate. The community around this small sport is incredible but so spread out around the world—it is really great to know that there are others who share this crazy obsession of ours.

The book describes setting outrageous goals, a lot of failure along that path, and as a direct consequence, some amazing swims. In addition to the story, there are a handful of appendices on swimming in cold water, feeding, swimming in the dark, and preparing for a swim. There is also a good discussion of hypothermia, and sections on training and the mental side of the equation.

If you read it, let us know what you think!

[Buy on Amazon]



  • CathyInCACathyInCA Martinez, CASenior Member

    I love Steve's honesty about the feelings and physical pain that go along with marathon swims. I was chatting with him last week before I actually finished the book (we were chatting while coming in from the opening at Aquatic Park so an appropriate venue for discussing open water swimming) and told him how I really like the way the book is written. It's in plain, easy to understand English. Also on the real life end it shows how you can accomplish your goals while working out your life struggles on land.

    I don't totally agree with his views on nutrition but I believe if it works for him then let it be. Personally I work with a registered dietitian because I have had so many dietary problems in my past. That is another book in itself.

    I LOVE the title of the book which is what actually caused me to buy it and start reading.

  • I really enjoyed Steve's book. He keeps it real and doesn't sugar coat the challenges..both in out of the water. Steve has a matter of fact way of sharing his journey as 'just swim' and getting 'it' done. I enjoyed his perspective of giving back to others and and then having his children experience giving to others as well. I see that he is donating all the proceeds from his book to his charity. I say, "Good for you Steve!"

    The title of the book is quite catchy. While I was reading the book out in public I had several people ask me what that book was about (actually I was reading the book during breaks at a conference on Trauma! ...oh my).

  • phodgeszohophodgeszoho UKSenior Member

    I know this will have very little impact on other people's reading experience but as a graphic designer with slight OCD tendencies I found the poor quality of the typesetting a constant distraction... :-/

    Apart from that I did enjoy reading his EC and NC experiences. Thanks for sharing. :-)

  • dpm50dpm50 PA, U.S.Senior Member
    edited November 2016

    Reading it now w/ my phone Kindle app. Not too far into it yet, but very much enjoying it!

  • just got it!

  • Readin

  • DeborahDeborah Lee-on-the-SolentMember

    I've just ordered it. Looking forward to reading it, and all of the blogs and posts on here. So much information, one post leads to another and then another. What a great forum! My EC is next year and know all of this will help me greatly.

  • Bought it. Saving it for my Xmas break

  • DeborahDeborah Lee-on-the-SolentMember

    Christmas reading.


  • brunobruno Barcelona (Spain)Senior Member

    I got the book for Christmas, just finished it. I liked it very much: the candid approach; the mix between swimming goals and life goals, which seem to flow together along the story; the first hand thoughts while swimming...

    I've been shocked by the matter-of-factly way to tell (and to approach, or so it seems) swims like Catalina and Juan de Fuca, and other 5 and 8 hours swims in SF, just as training for more ambitious goals. For us mere mortals, a 5 hours swim is a long-run 1-year-at-least-preparation goal. In other threads I've read things like "you should swim Catalina as a training to EC", but I don't think I would be able to put such ambitious swims sort of diminished inside a bigger plan, just as part of the training.

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