The Three-Year Swim Club: The Untold Story of Maui's Sugar Ditch Kids and Their Quest for Olympic Glory

Julie Checkoway. Grand Central, $27 (404p) ISBN 978-1-4555-2344-3
This rags-to-riches story revolves around school teacher Soichi Sakamoto, who took a group of Japanese-American children from a poor, segregated Hawaiian sugar plantation and taught them how to be champion swimmers, practicing in one of the plantation's fetid irrigation ditches. If the basis for the book doesn't sound amazing enough, how the story unfolds—Japan vying for the Olympic games, Pearl Harbor being bombed, WWII changing the world forever—allows the story and characters to evolve in uplifting and heartbreaking ways. Debut author Checkoway is equal to the task of telling this moving narrative. From page one, where she writes "Lip-locking lovers perambulated... and holiday makers gathered... under Maxfield Parrish skies," it is evident that Checkoway's ability to set a scene is uncanny and accomplished. Her top-notch skill as a researcher allows her to bring to life the long-forgotten saga of the swim team, which she fears might otherwise "simply disappear." Depicting determination, discrimination, hope, anguish, hard work, and hard choices, Checkoway has created a sports history that is singular in its own right, and a fitting testament to the over 200 youths who swam for many reasons toward one goal: "Olympics First! Olympics Always."(Oct.)
Reviewed on: 11/09/2015
Release date: 10/01/2015
Compact Disc - 978-1-61969-384-5
Open Ebook - 448 pages - 978-1-4555-2343-6
Hardcover - 672 pages - 978-1-4555-3627-6
Open Ebook - 432 pages - 978-1-4555-6491-0
Paperback - 448 pages - 978-1-4555-2345-0
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