A Boy in the Water
Mr B's review
Mr B’s Christmas Catalogue Review 2018
Was it an inspirational coach that persuaded an 11 year old boy to attempt to swim the English Channel in 1988 – or a deranged one? Tom remembers the gung-ho training which took him from swimming pool endurance sessions to freezing cold open water in the Lake District. The epic swim that took him almost 12 hours to complete is described in all its mind sapping and stamina challenging detail – and yet there’s something about the tomato soup refuelling that’s strangely nostalgic.
**Winner of the William Hill 2018 Sports Book of the Year Award**
A Sunday Times Book of the Year and Telegraph Best Book of 2018
‘Extraordinary’ Clare Balding
The poignant, life-affirming story of a determined boy, a visionary coach, and how the dream of a record-breaking Channel swim became reality
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.
A compelling story of dedication and commitment. It’ll make a great movie, but you should read the book first. * sportsbookofthemonth.com * This book really struck a chord with me and I couldn’t put it down until I read it all . . . amazing, a must read * Amazon * A Boy in the Water is an uplifting and truly remarkable story of innocence, dedication, and commitment * Amazon * A memoir about the power of a good teacher, about family, about loss, about growing into the man you are meant to be — Lemn Sissay * Radio 4 * an 11-year-old boy slaps on the grease, adjusts his goggles and plunges into a grey, cold sea in an attempt to become the youngest person to swim the Channel. This is Tom Gregory’s true story about the events that led him to this chilly endeavor — Susan Jeffrey * Daily Mail * The gruelling, awe-inspiring feat is recounted with poignancy and affection here, and this becomes a thrilling and moving tribute to the joys and perils of open-water swimming, too. Gregory’s devotion to his incredibly tough challenge is remarkable — Charlotte Runcie * Radio Choice * Just part of a story that began at a swimming pool in south London, where one man changed countless young lives * RadioTimes * A lifelong journey begins with an incredible swim * RadioTimes * Reading this, you have to remind yourself that this was just a little boy, smothered in grease, who was bobbing about in one of the world’s busiest maritime routes, battling the tide, waves and wind. — Helen Davies * Sunday Times * ‘Reading this and it’s extraordinary. The challenge and the exhilaration of open water swimming brilliantly evoked. A really different and interesting read.’ Clare Balding * Twitter * Charming and different; a lovely, brilliant memoir. What a boy! What a feat! — Victoria Derbyshire “I am absolutely in awe; a mindblowing and phenomenal feat. A Boy in the Water will challenge ideas of what is possible”. — Chrissie Wellington ‘Written beautifully through the eyes of a child yet to enter his teens, ‘A Boy in the Water’ resonated strongly taking me back to my own childhood. A fascinating story full of innocence, achievement, ambition and trust.’ — Ellen MacArthur