About the book
Eltham, South London. 1984: the hot fug of the swimming pool and the slow splashing of a boy learning to swim but not yet wanting to take his foot off the bottom. Fast-forward four years. Photographers and family wait on the shingle beach as a boy in a bright orange hat and grease-smeared goggles swims the last few metres from France to England. He has been in the water for twelve agonizing hours, encouraged at each stroke by his coach, John Bullet, who has become a second father.
This is the story of a remarkable friendship between a coach and a boy, and a love letter to the intensity and freedom of childhood.
Published by Particular Books
What a fabulous little book! I really didn’t expect to become so emotional while reading the story of the young boy who achieved his dream of swimming the Channel at the age of 11! You really connect with Tom as he shares his memories of the actual Channel swim, alongside his other childhood memories of how he got into swimming, and how it took over his – and that of his family! – life.
Being set back in the 1980’s also means lots of wonderful retro mentions that brought back so many wonderful memories for me, and as I swam a lot too in my younger days it also brought back those memories of early morning training sessions, how big the pool first felt when you first show up and how the bond between a swimmer and their coach becomes so strong and important.
At times you often forget just how young he was to achieve something so spectacular, and it charts his progress in wonderful detail and captures the emotions so well. It’s a book that made me laugh and cry in equal measures and the last chapter especially really connected deeply with me and just shows the importance of youngsters finding people who believe in them and giving up their spare time to help others.
A delight to read! Inspiring, uplifting and highly recommended!