13 Great Books About Swimmers

When we think about the best place to read, water is often involved. Ideally, we’re on a pool float, lounge chair, or beach towel and able to dip our toes in the water as we turn the pages.

Our book recommendations today are highly-rated novels with characters who find swimming to be an important part of their life. At the end of the list, you’ll find a bonus book written by an Olympic-winning swimmer.

open book poolside
Sea Sisters Swimming Club book cover

Book Summary

At 50, Fran planned to continue her work as a police officer for a few more years. But then she had a heart attack right in the middle of dancing the night away in a sequin dress.

Instead of staying home and feeling sorry for herself, Fran heads to the Welsh coast to relax in a seaside village. The Sea Sisters, a local ocean swimming group, adopt her into their flock and challenge her to face her lifelong fear of the sea.

While in Llanbryn, she also meets Wyn. While he appears to be the local troublemaker, the more she gets to know him, the more she’s drawn to him.

Kindle Unlimited as of: 05/19/2024
We Came Here to Shine book cover

Book Summary

In this novel, the main characters are Maxine, who dreams of being a journalist for the New York Times, and Vivi, who wants to be an actress in LA.

When Vivi is given a chance to be the star of the Aquacade synchronized swimming spectacular at the World’s Fair, the lives of these two big-dreaming women collide. They navigate a summer of opportunity and adversity together as friends who want to achieve so much more than society expects.

Shelly Bay Ladies Swimming Circle book cover

Book Summary

In the seaside town of Shelly Bay, Australia, four very different women begin meeting for a daily swim.

Elaine is lonely after arriving in Australia with her husband, leaving her adult children and friends behind in England. Theresa’s husband is more interested in the local pub than their family. Leanne is a young nurse and new swimmer without close friends. Marie is a widow with a lifelong habit of taking a daily swim.

Over the two years covered in this novel, the women open up to each other and bond during their daily swim, sharing much more than an exercise routine.

The Book Girls Say…

Some readers say this book starts off slow as you learn about each of the four main characters, but that the pace picks up as you get further into the book. Additionally, many mention that the book is deeper and more emotional than they expected.

Rom-commers book cover.

Book Summary

Emma has spent her life as an aspiring (and talented) screenwriter, but a past family tragedy keeps her in Texas as a full-time caregiver. However, when the opportunity of a lifetime is presented, it may be her turn to pursue her dream career.

Emma’s screenwriting idol, Charlie Yates, has written his first romance script – and it’s terrible. His agent wants to bring in Emma to help with the rewrite, but there are problems. Charlie is cranky, he doesn’t work with co-writers, and he doesn’t believe in love.

Can Emma convince him that romance and love exist? And, can her younger sister handle caring for their dad while she is away?

The Book Girls Say…

While Emma is in California, she develops an important swimming routine in Charlie’s pool. Despite it being his pool, Charlie fears the water.

While this is a rom-com by every definition, be warned that there are also enough meaty topics to make it a good summer book club pick. The final chapters are especially lovely, with a perspective on grief that is likely to trigger some reflection.

Wednesday Morning Wild Swim book cover

Book Summary

Ettie is a warm and sunny 30-year-old who works in a vintage clothing shop. She loves helping others, even though that often creates problems in her own life.

Dominic owns a piece of property that includes a lake, and despite forbidding wild swimming, a group meets there each week. As the group grows, it becomes clear that more than their physical health is benefiting from their weekly swim. In fact, Ettie might be just the person Dominic needs to help turn his estate into a hotel.

The Book Girls Say…

This is a feel-good read with a fun group of eclectic characters covering a wide variety of ages. It’s a simple plot, but the perfect refreshing summer read!

Black Cake book cover

Book Girls’ Readers Rate This Book

93% Would Recommend to a Friend

Book Summary

Black Cake opens in present-day California shortly after Eleanor’s death. She has left behind a voice recording for her two adult children – Byron and Benny. She’s also left them a traditional Caribbean black cake that she tells them to share “when the time is right.”

Her children, it turns out, only know a small part of their mom’s life story. Posthumously, Eleanor is finally ready to share her truth so that Byron and Benny can truly know and understand their family history.

As the story unfolds, everything that her children thought they knew about their lineage and themselves will be rocked to the core, and by the time they finally share the black cake, another person will be joining them at the table.

The Book Girls Say…

Although Eleanor has already died when this novel begins, through her voice recordings, this novel traces the story of her life (swimming is very important to her story) and shows how the choices she made over the years impacted not only her future but also those of everyone in her family.

Angela rated this book five stars and highly recommends the audiobook version because the accents really bring the story to life.

Black Cake has been adapted into a steaming television series on Hulu.

Ladies' Midnight Swimming Club book cover

Book Summary

Set in a small Irish village, this is the story of three women from different backgrounds, each in a different stage of life. Together, they find that there’s no better way to distract from their worries than a midnight dip in the cold waters of the Atlantic. As they swim, they form a close bond and provide support to one another.

This story is told in five monthly parts, spanning April to August, each from a different point of view. This allows you to get to know each of the characters on a more intimate level.

The Book Girls Say…

Although it touches on many emotional issues (you may need to keep tissues nearby), the book’s overall vibe is described as heartwarming and uplifting.

Kindle Unlimited as of: 05/17/2024

Also Featured on These Book Lists:

25 Books About Friendship for Adults

Mornings with Rosemary book cover

Book Summary

Rosemary has lived in London her entire 86 years, and she’s distressed by all the changes that have recently happened. The library she worked for closed, the grocery store became a trendy bar, and worst of all, the outdoor pool she’s swum at daily since it opened is being threatened by a developer. 

The pool was where she met her husband, it was her respite during WW2, and it’s where she found community after her husband passed away. 

Kate, a twenty-something reporter, has been assigned a story about the pool’s closure. As she investigates, it becomes clear that the entire story can focus on Rosemary’s lifetime of swimming and how the pool has changed her life again and again. As Kate and Rosemary visit for the story, their bond develops well beyond a reporter and subject and they both have their lives transformed in surprising ways.

The Book Girls Say…

This book was previously published under the title The Lido.

Also Featured on These Book Lists:

Books With Characters in Their 80s

Starfish book cover

Book Summary

Fifth-grader Ellie loved swimming until she didn’t anticipate the consequences of wearing a whale swimsuit to her Under the Sea birthday. The other kids quickly connection the whale to her weight.

She is tired of being fat-shamed by other students and her mom. Luckily, she has some allies, and their support helps her regain her confidence.

The Book Girls Say…

This Printz Honor winner is a middle-grade book but receives high ratings and praise from adult readers. It’s written in verse, making it a quick yet powerful read if you’re short on time.

Also Featured on These Book Lists:

Books with a Child Protagonist (Bildungsroman Novels)

Florence Adler Swims Forever book cover

Book Girls’ Readers Rate This Book

100% Would Recommend to a Friend

Book Summary

Each summer, the Adler family rents out their Atlantic City home to vacationers and moves into the cramped apartment above their bakery. Their daughters are now young adults, with Florence home from college and Fannie on bed rest during pregnancy following the loss of a baby. Florence plans to spend the summer training for her plan to swim the English Channel. 

The small space becomes even more crowded when the father, Joseph, takes in a woman he helped emigrate from Nazi Germany. When a tragedy strikes, mom Esther begins a web of lies in an attempt to protect her daughter Fannie, but will this really help in the long run?

The Book Girls Say…

This is a slower read with some sad moments, so while it’s set beachside during the summer, the mood is more matched to a rainy summer day.

Kindle Unlimited as of: 03/04/2024
Our Best Intentions book cover

Book Summary

Babur “Bobby” Singh lives in an affluent New York suburb and dreams of success in America. He’s a single parent and has a fledging small business as a driver. His daughter Angie uses swimming as an escape from the discomfort she feels as an immigrant’s daughter. 

Over the summer, Angie is walking home from the pool when she finds Henry, a popular and wealthy classmate from a prominent family on the football field. He’s been stabbed, and the knife is still in his abdomen. Angie immediately calls 911, and her life changes forever. And it’s not only her life that is impacted. The police immediately suspect Chiara, a Black classmate who had run away from her family to live with her aunt. 

The perspectives in this book change and you see how father and daughter try to find their place in the community and with each other.

The Book Girls Say…

This would be a great pick for fans of Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng.

Night Swim Book Cover

Book Summary

True crime podcaster Rachel has become someone that families turn to as a last hope when the authorities haven’t been able to solve their case. Her latest season is focused on a rape trial in a small town, where the town’s Olympic-bound star swimmer has been accused of raping the police chief’s granddaughter. 

As Rachel heads to the town to conduct her own investigation, a mysterious note appears on her windshield begging for help with something that happened 25 years earlier. A young girl, Jenny, reportedly drown, but the person leaving the notes insists that she was murdered. As more notes appear, Rachel is unsettled but also intrigued as the past and present of this small town begin to collide.

Also Featured on These Book Lists:

Books Like We Were Liars

Tweet Cute book cover

Book Summary

Perfectionist Pepper is the swim team captain and an overachiever at school. Outside of normal teen activities, she’s also helping her family’s fast food chain, Big League Burger, by running their massive Twitter account. 

Classmate Jack couldn’t be more different. Instead of being a leader, he’s the class clown at school. However, he is also involved in his family’s business – a deli. While he isn’t passionate about school, he does get fired up when Big League Burger steals his grandma’s recipe. This leads to a social media war with them…on Twitter. 

While Pepper and Jack duke it out with memes in public, they’re also falling in love behind the scenes on an anonymous chat app Jack built. Were they just destined to interact and become more than enemies?

The Book Girls Say…

This YA romantic comedy was a Goodreads Choice nominee for best YA fiction in 2020.

Also Featured on These Book Lists:

Rom Com Books Set in New York

Just Add Water book cover

Book Summary

In this memoir, Katie Ledecky shares her journey from Bethesda, Maryland where she fell in love with the pool, to her world championships, seven gold Olympic medals, and the incredible record of winning more Olympic races than any other female swimmer.

She’s often asked what it takes to compete successfully at an elite level, and her book shows the endless work she put in, the support of her family, and the wisdom of her coaches along the way.

The Book Girls Say…

If you’re looking for a non-fiction read that meets our Books About Swimmers prompt in the Summer Reading Challenge, this new release would be a great pick!

Join the Summer Reading Challenge

Our free self-paced reading challenge will keep you reading engaging books all summer long. To make it easy and fun, we include highly-rated book recommendations for each of the six summer reading prompts.


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