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Splash Reviews

Splash by Howard Means


Howard Means

Score pending

1 review

Category: Non-fiction
Imprint: Allen & Unwin
Publisher: Atlantic Books
Publication date: 2 Jul 2020
ISBN: 9781911630821

Splash! weaves a 10,000-year-old tale that begins in a bone-dry cave in the remote southwest corner of Egypt, winds its way through ancient Greece and Rome, flows mostly underground through the Dark and Middle Ages, and then reemerges in the wake of the Renaissance before ending on the runway of the Tokyo Olympics.

4 stars out of 5
Katy Guest
17 Jun 2020

"... (a) fascinating history of how, where and why humans swim."

In a cave in Wadi Sura, in the southwest corner of Egypt, there is evidence that one of the driest corners of the Earth used to be flowing with water. The Cave of Swimmers (famous from The English Patient) is covered in paintings of little human figures that appear to be doing doggy paddle. They suggest not only that the Sahara desert was once crossed by rivers and lakes but that, about 8,000 years ago, people were swimming in them. And apparently loving it.

So begins this fascinating history of how, where and why humans swim. It is perfect reading for those missing a splash-about during the lockdown. Howard Means, a lifelong swimmer and coach, explains that swimming “remains deeply encoded in our biology”, and sees it not only as a panacea but also a leveller for humans. Water “forgives our infirmities, physical and otherwise,” he writes. “It frees us to dream. Swimming is an equal playing field.” Or, at least, it should be.