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Lynne Cox

Updated on July 10, 2014

Lynne Cox: Open Water Swimmer

The inspirational Lynne Cox is an open water swimmer from America who has written two books about her adventures in swimming around the globe.  Her athletic feats and records broken are varied and numerous, including being among the first teens to cross the Catalina Island channel in California, the fastest English Channel crossing, the first person to swim the Strait of Magellan in Chile and Cape Point in Africa, and swimming more than one mile in Antarctica in an attempt that would kill most people.

In additiion to her swimming feats, Lynne has sought to be an ambassador for world peace and intercultural understanding.  One of her best known accomplishments was swimming the Bering Strait from Alaska to the Soviet Union during the Cold War, which led to international attention and praise from both Ronald Regan and Mikhail Gorbachev. Read on for more about the inspirational swimmer and woman Lynne Cox!

Lynne Cox is an exceptional swimmer and woman, and the best cold water, long distance swimmer in the history of the world. Her athletic feats challenged the limits of the human body, and her continued work to inspire people to reach for their best makes her an inspiration in and out of the water. As a child, Lynne was not necessarily the best swimmer in her family - her parents moved to California so that her more accomplished siblings could receive better swim coaching. Lynne tagged along with them and was coached as well. When she expressed boredom at swimming back and forth in the pool, her coach Don Gambril urged her to try some open water swims off the coast of California. She took his advice and at the age of fourteen, with four other friends, she swam the 31-mile Catalina Channel in Southern California.

Bit by the bug of open water swimming, Lynne aspired to break more barriers. She was the first woman to swim the Cook Strait in New Zealand, between the north and south islands, the first person to swim Skagerrak, between Norway and Sweden, the first to swim the shark-infested waters around Cape of Good Hope, Africa, the first to swim the Strait of Magellan - -an area known as the most treacherous three mile stretch of water in the world - and the first person to swim Lake Titicaca (altitude: 12,500 feet) from Bolivia to Peru.

While in college at University of California Santa Barbara, Lynne studied history and became inspired to use her swims to bring people together. Her father gave her the idea of swimming across the Bering Straits, the area near the Diomede Islands where the United States and Russia met. In 1987, with water temperatures ranging from 38 to 42 degrees Fahrenheit, Lynne completed the swim in two hours and sixteen minutes, making one of the coldest swims every completed in history. More than just an athletic feat, her swim brought together the United States and Soviet Union and contributed towards the growing friendship between the countries. Presidents Reagan and Gorbachov toasted Lynne's swim saying that she "proved by her courage how closely to each other our peoples live". Her swim opened the boarder between the countries for the first time in forty-eight years, and allowed families who had been separated to see each other again for the first time in decades.

In 2002 Lynne became the first person to complete a 1.2 miles in Antarctica, from the ship the Orlova to Neko Harbor in a time of 25 minutes. Her book, Swimming To Antarctica, was based on her career up to that point. In August 2006 she swam across the Ohio River in Cincinnati from the Serpentine Wall to Newport, Kentucky to bring attention to plans to decrease the water quality standards for the Ohio River.

Unusual Body Frame = Unusual Feats!

How Lynne Cox's body gave her an advantage...

Lynne Cox might be considered unusual for a swimmer, as a 5 foot 6 inch, 180-pound frame is larger than average for most swimmers. But Lynne made this work in her favor. Her body density is precisely that of sea water and thus her 36% body fat (normal is 18% to 25%) gave her neutral buoyancy. Because of this, her energy could be used all for propulsion and not to keep afloat, allowing her to swim more efficiently and undoubtedly contributing to her successful career.

Lynne Cox Speaks About Swimming

Swimming To Antarctica by Lynne Cox

Lynne Cox's first book, Swimming To Antarctica, is an autobiography of her career as a long distance open water swimmer. She takes the reader from her childhood days in California all the way to her record-breaking and history-making swims in the English Channel, The Bering Strait, and Antarctica.

Swimming to Antarctica: Tales of a Long-Distance Swimmer
Swimming to Antarctica: Tales of a Long-Distance Swimmer

This book is a must-read for any fan of swimming, or anyone who has overcome seemingly impossible odds to accomplish something extraordinary.


Grayson by Lynne Cox

Lynne Cox's second book recounts her encounter with a baby whale when she was just seventeen years old and swimming off the coast of California's Seal Beach. She helped guide the whale back to its mother, and the experience would change her life and further launch her inspirational swimming career.


If you've ever wondered how super-athletes like Lynne Cox first started out, this book will answer the question for you... and maybe even help you find some inspirational moments in your own life.


Lynne Cox's Skin Care Routine

According to an article in the New York Times, Lynne Cox has developed a personal skin care routine to help minimize the effects of weather and swimming on her skin. Here are some of the products she is said to use.

Aquaphor Healing Skin Ointment 14 oz (Pack of 2)
Aquaphor Healing Skin Ointment 14 oz (Pack of 2)

It is said that Lynne uses this daily.


Poll: What do you think of Lynne Cox?

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    • CruiseReady profile image


      7 years ago from East Central Florida

      Wonderful lens. But I have to agree with insolvelipe about the Antarctic part. I'm a swimmer, but not a cold weather creature at all.

      Anyway - nice swimming lens. I enjoyed it and am lensrolling it to my Swimming with Stingrays lens.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Interesting Squidoo lens, but I do not think swimming in the Antarctic was such a wise or bold move, it is stretching the limit of what a human being can endure, that's why Walrus have all that fat and blubber to protect them from the elements - like many other cold water marine creatures. Great Lens, and great topic for anyone whom was not aware who Lynne Cox was.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      She's a real inspiration. It was wonderful to learn more about her.

    • SusannaDuffy profile image

      Susanna Duffy 

      9 years ago from Melbourne Australia

      She's a powerful swimmer alright and I appreciate your explanation of her body shape. I remember 1975 when she swam the Cook Strait (Raukawa), unbelievably changeable and dangerous waters, I get nervy crossing in a ship! The ferry Aratika was protecting her (with its bulk) from some of the high winds. Great lens

    • FanfrelucheHubs profile image

      Nathalie Roy 

      9 years ago from France (Canadian expat)

      Interesting lens, it's the first time I hear about her. She is a high lever athlete, because it must be much much more difficult to swim in open water with all the weather and cold condition.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Great job.


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