Tag Archives: Why We Swim

Author Event with Bonnie Tsui featuring Des Linden

26 Apr

This event was on my radar for very non-reading related reasons. If you’ve ever heard of Des Linden, you might be as impressed with her as I am. Des won the 2018 Boston Marathon in the worst weather conditions recorded for the event. She’s run in the Olympics and is the first alternate for the US at Tokyo (she came in 4th at Olympic Trials). The week before this event, she broke the World Record for the 50K. To just elevate my fandom even more, she lives and trains in Michigan. So I heard about the event on her Instagram account.

Tsui’s book had been on my periphery for a while. As a swimmer, the title Why We Swim was instantly appealing. A swimmer friend of mine posted about wanting to read it and I had the book on my TBR already. So I thought I’d jump in.

It was clear Tsui is a fan of Des, like me, so they talked about running for quite a while to start off. Des had read the book and posted about how much she liked it on Twitter. Tsui was touched and responded which sparked a friendship. Though Tsui will run, Des is not a swimmer. She described herself as a ‘sinker’ which was part of what appealed to her to pick up the book. She associates the water with being injured because water jogging is where she’ll go for recovery. Her husband is a triathlete and rather than swim with him, she leads him in a kayak. (I had to laugh because my husband follows me in a kayak for many of my lake swims in a similar way.) The two of them will run together, however, along with their dog. Their dog can run a 6:30/mile pace, which just blows my mind!

Enough about Des, even though she was what drew me to the event. Tsui was an engaging speaker. She wanted to talk about swimming in a way that was tangible for people who don’t call themselves swimmers, like Des. As humans, we’re built to excel on land, to run well. But we’re drawn to water. Many animals have the natural inclination to swim, even ones you wouldn’t expect like eagles (whose swimming Tsui called a sort of butterfly stroke) and bats. She wrote the book to get a good understanding of what drives people to pursue water-related endeavors like epic swims and venturing into what could be dangerous waters. The open water is full of life and it makes the pool feel like an artificial environment. Yet we still find pools very comforting.

Tsui commented on how funny it felt to publish a book about swimming during lockdown (especially strict in her native California) when no one could swim. The open water was the only option for many. She wanted to talk about the relief water can give you when it wasn’t available to many people during lockdown. Tsui also mentioned that in her spare time, she reads a lot of fiction because her job as a journalist and non-fiction writer drives her to read so much non-fiction. She needs a little fun to escape work.

This was a fun event to join and thank you to Bookshop Santa Cruz for putting on such a great event! I hope to be able to travel and visit them in person one day.

Until next time, write on.

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