Off the Deep End: The Probably Insane Idea that I Could Swim My Way Through a Midlife Crisis-and Qualify for the Olympics

Front Cover
Algonquin Books, 2008 - Biography & Autobiography - 209 pages
15 Reviews
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.

What people are saying - Write a review

User ratings

5 stars
4 stars
3 stars
2 stars
1 star

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - winecat - LibraryThing

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 ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - tyroeternal - LibraryThing

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 ... Read full review

Other editions - View all

About the author (2008)

W. Hodding Carter is a contributing writer for Outside magazine.

Bibliographic information