For listeners of Unbroken and The Boys in the Boat comes the inspirational, untold story of impoverished children who transformed themselves into world-class swimmers.
In 1937, a schoolteacher on the island of Maui challenged a group of poverty-stricken sugar plantation kids to swim upstream against the current of their circumstance. The goal? To become Olympians.
They faced seemingly insurmountable obstacles. The children were Japanese-American, were malnourished and barefoot, and had no pool; they trained in the filthy irrigation ditches that snaked down from the mountains into the sugarcane fields. Their future was in those same fields, working alongside their parents in virtual slavery, known not by their names but by numbered tags that hung around their necks. Their teacher, Soichi Sakamoto, was an ordinary man whose swimming ability didn't extend much beyond treading water.
In spite of everything, including the virulent anti-Japanese sentiment of the late 1930s, in their first year the children outraced Olympic athletes twice their size; in their second year, they were national and international champs, shattering American and world records and making headlines from LA to Nazi Germany. In their third year, they'd be declared the greatest swimmers in the world, but they'd also face their greatest obstacle: the dawning of a world war and the cancellation of the games. Still, on the battlefield, they'd become the 20th century's most celebrated heroes, and in 1948 they'd have one last chance for Olympic glory.
They were the Three-Year Swim Club. This is their story.
©2015 Julie Checkoway (P)2015 Hachette Audio
The true story of plantation workers' kids from Maui making it to the US swim finals and Olympics is remarkable. Lots of history. Rewarding story.
The story of the coach.
He did not study the Hawai'ian language and slaughtered words and place names. Listening to that aspect for me was a nightmare.
I have complained before to audible that many of their readers when reading a foreign language have no knowledge and consequently hurt their listeners' ears with mispronunciations.
I loved hearing the stories since they were similar to those I heard in HI while I was growing up. But listening to them was painful to my ears so I could only stand to listen in little snips.
However, how hard he tried, Alex Chadwick mangled many of the Japanese and Hawaiian words. His English pronunciation was fine so he may be a great reader for a book without those foreign words.
Being from Hawai'i and just one generation out from the events in this book, I loved the book. It held me rapt the entire time. The only criticism I have is that the publishers should have chosen a more appropriate reader. The narration was full of mispronunciations that were galling in light of the discrimination the swimmers and coach faced. The reader never even pronounced the name of Soichi Sakamoto correctly.
Beyond that, the story is an important one and Julie Checkoway did a wonderful job of retelling it.
Practice Makes Perfect
Towards the beginning when they had a meet in Honolulu and they actually beat the existing favorites.
Great narration, good tone, perfect inflections and pacing.
I was in awe of Soichi's commitment and determination to give these kids the chance to rise above their circumstances. I learned a lot about the hardships and slavery surrounding the plantation workers and the rise and fall of the sugar industry in Hawaii.
This story needed to be told and Julie Checkoway did a brilliant job of telling it. It has a smooth blend of what it means to become a champion and what can happen to a person when they are not prepared for the limelight. The historical facts support the story in a way that gives the reader a perspective into the decisions of the main characters.I would recommend this book to anyone.
A wonderful story! It is amazing what a difference one person can make in another persons life. I loved that he saw something special in the kids and set out to give them a dream. Well told!
This book could prove to be a bit fact laden for a non swimmer. But to an avid fan of the sport it was extremely interesting. I recognized and know of several of those mentioned. Also very interesting was the background of modern swimming techniques. Great inspirational story for anyone , swimmer or not!
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