Master Stroke

Swimming, Nicola Keegan's debut novel, understands that life is most interesting at the deep end

Pierre Dufour

Author Nicola Keegan.

If you've ever wondered what deep thought might pass through the mind of a champion swimmer being honored as SPORTS ILLUSTRATED's female athlete of the year, flip to page 220 of Nicola Keegan's novel Swimming (Knopf; 305 pages), on which Philomena (Pip) Ash, fictitious Olympic gold medalist and the novel's heroine, observes that "it will be the only night in my life where I will dine almost entirely surrounded by people taller than myself."

Yes, it's lonely up there at 6 ft. 2 in. and at the pinnacle of athletic achievement--and a writer could spend her whole career trying to craft...

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