SPLASH is a unique collection of essays, poetry and excerpts of notable non-fiction aquatic biographies.
Editor Laurel Blossom, a poet and life-long swimmer, brought together a total of 46 diverse writings in this entertaining, educational and passionately produced volume.
The shortest piece by poet and poetry editor, John Ciardi, speaks
to the complexity and imagination of the array of offerings in
SPLASH. Titled, “On Being Much Better than Most and
Yet Not Quite Good Enough:”
“There was a great swimmer named Jack
Who swam ten miles out-and nine back.
Another poem, “400-Meter Freestyle” by Maxine Kumin is
16 lines/laps of interesting prose ending with “TIME:
4:25:9” appropriate enough, since it was first published in
Essays and short stories are written by such luminous authors as
Ray Bradbury, John Cheever, John Updike and Jack London. Bradbury's
“The Women” read as a bit of a mystery to me, being
cleared up, as I read in the acknowledgements that it was
originally published in Famous Fantastic Mysteries in 1949.
The perplexing and somewhat dark, “The Swimmer” by John
Cheever, originally in The New Yorker (July 15, 1964) was
made into the same-titled movie starring Burt Lancaster in 1968.
Compelling reading & viewing.
John Updike's “Lifeguard” originally in The New
Yorker (June 15, 1961) reveals a very complex character.
“The Kanaka Surf” (August 17, 1916) by Jack London is a
delightfully layered story of a couple's reuniting with not only
with the wonderful waters of Hawaii, but also of their love for one
Excerpts from books written by swimmers include selections from
Dawn Fraser (100 meter Freestyle Olympic Gold Medalist 1956, '60
& '64), Don Schollander (1964 4x Gold Medal Swimmer) and
Annette Kellerman (the Original Million Dollar Mermaid). Master
showman, Billy Rose, (the creator of the 1937 Aquacade in Cleveland
1939-40 Aquacade in NYC and the 1940 Aquacade in SF), involved
Eleanor Holm, Johnny Weissmuller, Buster Crabbe, Esther Williams
and many other divers, dancers and synchronized swimmers during the
course of these shows.
Dawn Fraser with Harry Gordon pen, “The Night of the Big, Big
Minute” (Below the Surface: Confessions of an Olympic
Champion, 1965). Dawn Fraser has been to — and won —
three Olympic finals in the 100 Meter Freestyle…her insight
into the big, big minute warrants serious historical cred. Enjoy
this first-rate account. From “Deep Water” (1971) by
Tokyo Olympic Champion Don Schollander with Duke Savage, a fine two
paragraphs taking the reader from pain, to agony, to the top of the
“How to Swim” by Annette Kellerman (1918) is a classic
biography and swim lesson by the first lady of promoting aquatics
sports and activities. In the page included, Annette shares of her
love for the water.
Polly Rose Gottlieb wrote the biography “Nine Lives of Billy Rose” (1968) about her brother.
Rose was a very complex, creative and successful businessman/entertainer, who indeed had nine separate careers including five marriages. The chapter included tells the story of the 'transition' from wife number one, the famed actress Fanny Brice, to the young aquatic starlet and Olympic Gold Medalist,
Open water, marathon swimming is represented by two fine entries:
Dick Powell's Channel Swimming Report of Ted Erikson's two way
crossing of the English Channel (1965) and “Mind over
Water” by Diana Nyad, published in Esquire (October
Lastly, this book begins with a preface by the much praised
journalist, writer, editor and actor George Plimpton (1927-2003).
In his classic narrative manner, names such as Schollander, Spitz
and Nabor, tell insightful and sometimes anecdotal stories,
including those of Plimpton himself.