Lynne Cox

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Lynne Cox
Cox in 2012
Personal information
Born (1957-01-02) January 2, 1957 (age 67)
Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.

Lynne Cox (born January 2, 1957)[1] is an American long-distance open-water swimmer, writer and speaker. She is best known for being the first person to swim between the United States and the Soviet Union,[2][3] in the Bering Strait, a feat which has been recognized for easing the Cold War tensions between U.S. President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.[4][5][6][7]

External videos
video icon The Lynne Cox Story – Mysteries at the Museum


In 1971, she and her teammates were the first group of teenagers to complete the crossing of the Catalina Island Channel in California. She has twice held the record for the fastest crossing of the English Channel from England to France (1972 in a time of 9 hours 57 minutes and 1973 in a time of 9 hours 36 minutes[8]). In 1975, Cox became the first woman to swim the 10 °C (50 °F), 16 km (10 mi) Cook Strait in New Zealand. In 1976, she was the first person to swim the Straits of Magellan in Chile, and the first to swim around the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa.

Cox is perhaps best known for swimming 2 hour 6 minutes in the Bering Strait on August 7, 1987,[9] from the island of Little Diomede in Alaska to Big Diomede, then part of the Soviet Union, where the water temperature averaged around 43 to 44 °F (6 to 7 °C).[10][11][12][13] At the time people living on the Diomede Islands, only 3.7 km (2.3 mi) apart, were not permitted to travel between them, although the Inuit communities there had been closely linked until the natives of Big Diomede were moved to the Russian mainland after World War II.[14] Her accomplishment a few years before the end of the Cold War earned praise from both U.S. President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.[4]

At the signing of the INF Missile Treaty at the White House, Gorbachev made a toast.[15] He and President Reagan lifted their glasses and Gorbachev said: "Last summer it took one brave American by the name of Lynne Cox just two hours to swim from one of our countries to the other. We saw on television how sincere and friendly the meeting was between our people and the Americans when she stepped onto the Soviet shore. She proved by her courage how close to each other our peoples live".[16][17]

In May 1992, Lynne Cox swam in the Andean Lake Titicaca, which, at 3,812 m (12,507 feet) elevation, is considered the world's highest navigable lake. While Titicaca's water, at 13 to 14 °C (56 to 58 °F), is warmer than that of the Bering Strait, the high elevation and unidentified biting creatures offered an unusual challenge. The swimmer covered the distance of around 10 miles from Copacabana, Bolivia, to the village of Chimbo, Peru, in 3 hours 48 minutes. The Bolivian Navy provided support boats.[18]

Another of her accomplishments was swimming more than a mile (1.6 km) in the waters of Antarctica. Cox was in the water for 25 min, swimming 1.22 miles (1.96 km).[19] Her book about the experience, Swimming to Antarctica, was published in 2004.

Her second book, Grayson, details her encounter with a lost baby gray whale during an early morning workout off the coast of California. It was published in 2006.

In August 2006, joined by local swimmers, Lynne Cox swam across the Ohio River in Cincinnati from the [[Sawyer Point Park & Yeatman's Cove#Serpentine Wall |Serpentine Wall]] to Newport, Kentucky, to bring attention to plans to decrease the water-quality standards for the Ohio River.[20]

In 2011, she published South with the Sun, both a biography of Roald Amundsen and a chronicle of her 2007 swimming expedition to Greenland, Baffin Island and Alaska, tracing Amundsen's Northwest Passage expedition.


  • Swimming to Antarctica, Alfred A. Knopf, 2004 ISBN 0-15-603130-2
  • Grayson, Alfred A. Knopf, 2006 ISBN 0-307-26454-8
  • South with the Sun, Alfred A. Knopf, 2011 ISBN 978-0-307-59340-5
  • Open Water Swimming Manual: An Expert's Survival Guide For Triathletes And Open Water Swimmers, Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 2013 ISBN 978-0-345-80609-3
  • Elizabeth, Queen of the Seas", Schwartz & Wade, 2014 ISBN 9780375858888
  • Swimming in the Sink: An Episode of the Heart, Alfred A. Knopf, September 2016, ISBN 978-1101947623
  • Tales of Al: The Water Rescue Dog, Alfred A. Knopf, 2022, ISBN 978-0593319376

Awards and honors[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Lynne Cox Author Bookshelf – Random House – Books – Audiobooks – Ebooks". Random House.
  2. ^ Cox, Lynne (August 4, 2017). "Opinion | I swam from the U.S. to the Soviet Union. Then the world changed". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved September 23, 2020.
  3. ^ "'Why We Swim' dives into water's transformative power". Los Angeles Times. July 15, 2020. Retrieved September 23, 2020.
  4. ^ a b Smith, Martin. January 31, 1988. "The transcendent power of the solo athlete." Orange County Register, p. J1.
  5. ^ "Lynne Cox swims into communist territory". History. Retrieved August 7, 2017.
  6. ^ Tallent, Aaron (August 7, 2020). "This Day in Sports History: August 7". | Expert Predictions, Picks, and Previews. Retrieved September 23, 2020.
  7. ^ "International Swimming Hall of Fame and Lynne Cox Featured on Travel Channel's "Mysteries at the Museum"". Swimming World News. December 31, 2018. Retrieved September 23, 2020.
  8. ^ "Successful English Channel swims in 1973 -".
  9. ^ "1987: Chilly swim thaws Cold War relations". August 7, 1987. Retrieved August 8, 2013.
  10. ^ "Swimming to Siberia : American Lynne Cox Realized an 11-Year-Old Dream When She Splashed Ashore for Tea With the Russians". Los Angeles Times. September 6, 1987. Retrieved March 25, 2014.
  11. ^ "Long, Cold Swim". New York Times. August 9, 1987. Retrieved March 26, 2014.
  12. ^ Associated Press. "Swimmer conquers frigid Bering Strait – American's crossing of waterway to Soviet Union is unprecedented". August 8, 1987. Washington Post, p. A1.
  13. ^ Cox, Lynne. Background Archived August 19, 2012, at the Wayback Machine. In 1987 she saw it "as a way to open the US-Soviet Border for the first time in 48 years, with a time of 2 hours and 6 minutes".
  14. ^ "Diomede" Archived April 24, 2012, at the Wayback Machine. The American Local History Network.
  15. ^ "President Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev's Toasts on December 8, 1987". YouTube.
  16. ^ Cox, Lynne. "Swimming to Antarctica,Tales of a Long-Distance Swimmer", Knopf, 2004, p. 275.
  17. ^ Dwyer, Dialynn (August 6, 2015). "How an American swimmer helped thaw Cold War relations". Retrieved March 29, 2021.
  18. ^ Roberts, Rich (July 1, 1992). "Because It's There : Lake Titicaca Is So Cold It Sends Chills to the Muscles and Has Something That Leaves Swimmers With Bites; So, of Course, It's Ideal for Lynne Cox". Los Angeles Times.
  19. ^ McKay, Mary-Jayne. "Swimming to America". 60 Minutes. CBS News. Retrieved July 21, 2011.
  20. ^ "Promoting environmental cause: Ohio River". June 24, 2006.
  21. ^ "California Book Awards".
  22. ^ "Past Winners (Irma Black Award)". Bank Street College of Education. Retrieved May 8, 2016.
  23. ^ "Citation for (37588)". Minor Planet Center. Archived from the original on October 9, 2014. Retrieved May 10, 2014.

External links[edit]