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Off the Deep End

Off the Deep End

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3.19

(1)
|Views: 66|Likes:
Published by Workman Publishing
Hodding Carter dreamed of being an Olympian as a kid. He worshipped Mark Spitz, swam his heart out, and just missed qualifying for the Olympic trials in swimming as a college senior. Although he didn't qualify for the 1976, 1980, 1984, 1988, 1992, 1996, 2000, or 2004 Olympics, he never stopped believing he could make it. And despite past failures and the passage of time, Carter began his quest once more at the age of forty-two. Maybe he's crazy. But then again, maybe he's onto something. He entered the Masters Championships. He swam three to four miles each day, six days a week. He pumped iron, trained with former Olympians, and consulted with swimming gurus and medical researchers who taught him that the body doesn't have to age. He swam with sharks (inadvertently) in the Virgin Islands, suffered hypothermia in a relay around Manhattan, and put on fifteen pounds of muscle. Amazingly, he discovered that his heartbeat could keep pace with the best of the younger swimmers'. And each day he felt stronger, swam faster, and became more convinced that he wasn't crazy. This outrageous, courageous chronicle is much more than Carter's race with time to make it to the Olympics. It's the exhilarating story of a man who rebels against middle age the only way he can—by chasing a dream. His article in Outside magazine, on which this book is based, was the winner of a Lowell Thomas award from the Society of American Travel Writers Foundation.
Hodding Carter dreamed of being an Olympian as a kid. He worshipped Mark Spitz, swam his heart out, and just missed qualifying for the Olympic trials in swimming as a college senior. Although he didn't qualify for the 1976, 1980, 1984, 1988, 1992, 1996, 2000, or 2004 Olympics, he never stopped believing he could make it. And despite past failures and the passage of time, Carter began his quest once more at the age of forty-two. Maybe he's crazy. But then again, maybe he's onto something. He entered the Masters Championships. He swam three to four miles each day, six days a week. He pumped iron, trained with former Olympians, and consulted with swimming gurus and medical researchers who taught him that the body doesn't have to age. He swam with sharks (inadvertently) in the Virgin Islands, suffered hypothermia in a relay around Manhattan, and put on fifteen pounds of muscle. Amazingly, he discovered that his heartbeat could keep pace with the best of the younger swimmers'. And each day he felt stronger, swam faster, and became more convinced that he wasn't crazy. This outrageous, courageous chronicle is much more than Carter's race with time to make it to the Olympics. It's the exhilarating story of a man who rebels against middle age the only way he can—by chasing a dream. His article in Outside magazine, on which this book is based, was the winner of a Lowell Thomas award from the Society of American Travel Writers Foundation.

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Publish date: Jun 10, 2008
Added to Scribd: Sep 03, 2012
Copyright:Traditional Copyright: All rights reservedISBN:9781565126428
List Price: $1.99

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10/01/2014

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9781565126428

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winecat reviewed this
Rated 2/5
I really wanted to like the book. My sister was an Olympic caliber swimmer and I've always enjoyed the sport myself. However the author is just a bit too involved with himself to make this an enjoyable read. I found myself thinking more about the family that he's ignoring than I did about his personal quest.
tyroeternal reviewed this
Rated 3/5
I was sad to find that while funny, I did not enjoy Carter's writing all that much. Much of the story was spent switching wildly back and forth between hoping beyond all hope, and just as quickly turning around and deciding to give up on his quest. While the ups and downs of the story were to be expected it made for a long read. I really wanted to enjoy Off the Deep End, but I just could not get into it.
lalalibrarian reviewed this
Rated 5/5
I laughed throughout this entire book. Carter bravely and honestly recounts his humbling experiences training for the Olympics at age 45. This is a great book about failure and dreaming big. I think this book will stick with me for awhile.

on a side note, he's from Greenville, MS in the delta where we lived for 5 years (one town over). We saw him speak at the YMCA in 2005 when he was beginning to train for the Olympics. (I'm pretty sure I remember him mentioning it at the time, but I think he made it sound like a joke).
cammie_1 reviewed this
Rated 2/5
I received this ARC back in April as part of LibraryThing's Early Reviewers program. The description of the book sounding interesting: middle-aged man decides to train for the Olympic Swim team, in part as a way "through a midlife crisis". When the book arrived, there was a note that one chapter was missing and would be send later. The book was published 2 weeks ago, but I haven't received the pages yet. Since the Olympic swim trials were this week, I decided to read this without the remaining pages. I'm not sure what has been left out -- given the publication date, it doesn't seem likely to have been an epilogue stating whether Carter made the Olympic team -- but I'm not sure that the book would seem any more complete had the absent chapter been included. This book is very uneven: there doesn't seem to be a coherent arrangement to the chapters and the timeline is unclear. Some of the chapters were published previously. Those that haven't been appear less polished. I realize that this is an ARC, but it seems to me that more substantial editing would need to happen. I'm not involved in publishing, but I always thought that ARCs were 'almost ready' for publication and that any substantive editing would have already occurred. Perhaps I'm wrong with this book.Carter adopts a self-deprecating sense of humor in this book, but the book doesn't seem to have an overall consistent tone. The result of the humor, then, reads more like arrogance than self-deprecation. I think that Carter wants the reader to see that he did have a certain amount of arrogance to think that he even had a chance to make the Olympic team, but I was left wondering if that really was his point. The approach of the book is also unclear: parts of it are memoir, parts training guide, parts sports travelogue when he writes about swimming from on Virgin Island to the next, or participating in an 8 hour swim around Manhattan. The audience isn't clear. Is he writing to swimmers? If so, then he shouldn't have included some of the explications about the sport (pool size, standards, etc.). But, if he wasn't intending to target swim enthusiasts, why did he go into such detail (and assumption) about certain swim personalities, not just on an Olympic level that a casual observer of the sport might know, but on the region Masters level. Overall, I found the book disappointing. It could have been so much more. Carter did not qualify for the Olympic Swim Trials. Despite the flaws of the book, I wish that he had. Along with Dana Torres, it would have been quite the story for 2 40-something swimmers to leave younger contenders in their wake.
stonelaura reviewed this
Rated 2/5
Journalist Carter takes a fairly humorous and self-deprecating look at himself as a forty-something trying to qualify for the Olympics after a twenty year hiatus from any competitive swimming. He details his long and frequently embarrassing struggle, beginning in 2004, to get back to (and hopefully surpass) his former conditioning and glory days of college swimming and those details might only be of interest to those with a love of all things swimming, but his sarcastic tone and Dave Barry-esque asides will appeal to a wider audience. Hodding attends swim camp, takes a job as assistant aquatics director at the local Y (an experience almost as humbling as trying to qualify) and takes some hits to his marriage and finances along the way. By the end of the book he has improved his time and is within one-tenth of a second of his best time ever, but that’s still a quantum leap from becoming an Olympian. The final chapter, where Carter reflects on the swimming enjoyment and success of his young children puts a feel-good finish to the tale.
tcrutch_1 reviewed this
Rated 4/5
Go Hoddo, Go! I am a twenty something professional woman and I have little in common with W. Hodding Carter. Despite this fact, I found Off the Deep End to be charming and inspirational. Off the Deep End brings back my memories of being on a swim team as a kid. I fondly remember the aroma of chlorine and the silky cool water gliding across my skin. Although I didn’t have Olympic potential as a kid and I could careless about the Summer Olympics today, I can certainly relate to Carter’s desire to beat the odds and make the cut for the Olympics. I am pullin` for ya Hoddo! I agree with other reviewers that this is no great work of literature and could be improved. However, having read the last few chapters improves my overall rating
jax450 reviewed this
Rated 4/5
I was very excited to dig into this book...being a former Masters Swimmer I thought it was a great adventure to chronicle in a book. And a 40+ man going for the Olympics...even better!But I was disappointed quite early on by Hodding's effort. It was hard to root for an "underdog" who thought so highly of himself. And his name dropping seems gratuitous to the extreme...a reader has no idea who these people are and putting their full names in the book with a laundry list of what they've accomplished seems like a way to boost their ego.I ended up laughing at Hodding Carter...but for all the wrong reasons. At least I was laughing and he does have a light attitude throughout the book. And I have to admit, I cheered a little when he got his. While the book left some to be desired, it's an OK summer read.
talbin_3 reviewed this
Rated 2/5
Off the Deep End, by W. Hodding Carter, describes Carter's attempt - at age 45 - to make the US Olympic swimming team. The book describes the effect this attempt has on his life - he's a husband and father - and on his own psyche. There are several amusing anecdotes along with some musings on how aging affects performance.I was really hoping to enjoy this book. I am also in my mid-forties, and my husband is a former competitive swimmer. However, although I understand I read an Advanced Reading Copy (ARC), the book seems unfinished and very unpolished. A few of the chapters were originally articles in magazines, and those chapters jump out as having been carefully written and edited. The book was also fairly unfocused. It seems as if it needed a central theme - either more about how his training affected his family life or more about the relationship between age and athleticism. According to the publisher, another chapter will be added before the book is published, which may help round out the book. I also hope that an editor can get to it and really help Carter bring some focus to the book because, frankly, it needs it. The book's unevenness seemed to echo Carter's descriptions of his uneven training attempts over the past few years; however, I doubt very much this was intentional. I was really hoping to enjoy this book, and I definitely enjoyed a few parts of it, but overall - in the ARC edition - it was an uneven and ultimately unsatisfying read.
scofer_2 reviewed this
Rated 3/5
Hodding Carter, a 45 year old struggling writer and father of four, is pursuing a place on the 2008 Olympic swim team. The book chronicles his journey, although my advance review copy did not include the last chapter which will let the reader know whether he achieved his goal. Off the Deep End is a quick and somewhat enjoyable read, filled with humor and self deprecation (which is very much deserved). Parts of the book were highly entertaining, including a chapter recounting a trip to the Virgin Islands as part of a story for Outside magazine where Hodding and a friend swim between the islands, carrying their gear by surfboard tethered to their feet. I am pulling for Hodding to secure a spot on the Olympic team despite the fact that the book makes it difficult to identify with or even like Hodding. I can’t help but be honest that the book provides a little too much information that is, frankly, a turn off. For example, Hodding is enamored of his “buff” physique which he discusses quite a bit, including one annoying episode where he is flexing his muscles in the mirror for 15 minutes while Lisa (his wife, a lawyer and breadwinner of the family) is folding laundry nearby. At another point, Hodding is training at an exclusive and expensive swim camp, financed by his wife who is at home taking care of their four kids, and Hodding describes flirting with one of the staff. The mention of ogling women and flirting appears several times, in fact, which I find astonishing since he is honest about his marriage difficulties. But, most disappointing of all, while Hodding clearly loves to swim, it is evident that he is doing all of this in an attempt to secure endorsements. I wish I did not know that. In the end, I hope that Hodding achieves his goals … and grows up along the way.[This book was reviewed as part of LibraryThing's Early Reviewers group]
mmccullough_33 reviewed this
Rated 4/5
Hodding's dream has always been to qualify for and compete in the U.S. Olympic Trials for swimming. An engaging non-fiction book for sports lovers and those who don't believe in putting age limits on what they can accomplish. Hodding shares deep personal emotions, family issues and internal struggles of whether this quest is worth pursuing.

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