In 1970s Cincinnati, Kim's overwhelmed, financially stressed parents dragged her and her four younger siblings into swimming--starting with a nearby motel pool--as a way to keep them occupied and out of their way. When Kim was eleven, they began leaving the kids at home with a sitter while they traveled the Midwest, where they sold imported wooden ornaments from their motorhome. But when Kim's six-year-old brother crashed his new Cheater Slick bike and the babysitter deserted the children, what started as an accident became a pattern: Mom and Dad leaving for weeks at a time and the kids wrestling with life's emergencies on their own.
As Kim coped in the role of fill-in mother while dealing with the stresses of elite swimming, she struggled to shape her own life. She eventually found strength, competence and achievement through swimming--and became the second female swimmer to win a full ride to the University of Southern California, where she earned two national titles. Swimming for My Life
is a peek into the dark side of elite swimming as well as a tale of family bonds, reconciling with the past, and how it is possible to emerge from life's toxic and lifesaving waters.