I just finished the book after reading in it for 6 weeks. This means, it is not exactly a thriller. But it is interesting enough to always come back to it until it is finished.
Ian tells the story of his comeback to swimming in 2011/12 and his 18 month preparation for the Olympic Games in London. In between, there are flashbacks to his entire swimming career and his childhood. This is indeed not the structure of a thriller. The value of the book is more in its honesty. It is not written as the success story of a world class athlete (what it could have been), but a honest status report about his life with many reflections about what he did, why he did it, what was good and what went wrong. It reads as if it has been written for his personal diary and publication has been decided later - although this is not the case, because Ian used a ghostwriter.
Coming back to honest, it is very interesting to learn from Ian about the flip side of fame: the invented stories, the chases and the besiegements of his home by journalists, the loss of private life. One story related to that is about his problems to find a pool and an appropriate daytime to swim, without immediately drawing the attention of the media to him. He even writes about the depression, that followed him during most parts of his swimming career. Disturbing, given his world class results that most people would associate with a happy and glamorous life. This is, what I would like our daughter to read, who - like many of her age - dreams of becoming Germanys next superstar.
My main driver to read this book was of course my admiration for Ians elegant swimming style. It was fun to read that he and his trainer even have a name for it: "Easy Look Good". I liked to read his comments about swimming and his feeling for the water flowing around him. This is spread all over the book and if you are a swimmer, this is what you are looking for. But don't expect a lesson of even a drill description. You will also not learn about a swimmers diet or other stuff like that. Ian just reports what is in his mind at his personal level. He does not write for teaching you something about swimming. He writes about the every day life of a swimmer, though. And if you have ever spent time swimming more than 30 kilometers a week, you will certainly understand many of his comments and sentiments. A great book for everyone, who is prepared to read honest comments beyond the everyday headlines and success stories of glossy sports magazines. Highly recommended.
Für jeden der mit Training etwas anfangen kann eine Empfehlung. Eine schöne Geschichte welche auch die psychische Seite eines Athleten genau beschreibt. Durch seine präzisen Beschreibungen wie er sich im Wasser fühlt, wie er das Wasser empfindet, wie er die Strömung und schlechte Schwimmzüge spürt, ist auch für jeden Schwimmer genügend dabei.
Interesting. If you want to understand Ian Thorpe's mind you get an idea. The book is somehow difficult to read as he himself is a difficult person. You are not provided by great ideas and the book will not broaden your knowledge about mankind. It is a self-centred account of a lonely person. Do you have to read it? No.