Class of 1975
Hometown: Los Alamitos
Current Residence: Los Alamitos
Lynne’s assault on long distance swimming records was first noticed in 1971 when she and her teammates were the first group of teenagers to complete the crossing of the Catalina Island Channel in California. The following year, she broke the men’s and women’s records for her 33 mile swim of the English Channel.
Since then Lynne has also shattered the men’s record for swimming the Catalina Channel, was the first woman to swim the Cook Strait in New Zealand, between the north and south islands, the first person to swim Skagerrak, between Norway and Sweden, the first to swim the shark-infested waters around Cape of Good Hope, Africa, the first to swim the Strait of Magellan, reputedly the most treacherous 3 mile stretch of water in the world and the first person to swim Lake Titicaca (altitude: 12,500 feet) from Bolivia to Peru.
Cox is perhaps best known for her 1987 swim across the Bering Strait, the channel that forms the boundary between Alaska and Siberia. She swam from the island of Little Diomede in Alaska to Big Diomede, then part of the Soviet Union, where the water temperature averaged around 4°C (40°F). At the time, people living on the Diomede Islands, only 3 km (two miles) apart, were not permitted to see each other, although many people had close family members living on the other island. Even more remarkably, her accomplishment opened the US-Soviet border for the first time in 48 years, and eased Cold War tensions. Us President Ronald Reagan and Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev both praised her success.
And that’s just the stuff that made the headlines. . . Audiences are equally inspired by the parts of Lynne’s story not recorded in the record books: Being considered too plump to participate in sports (in point of fact, her female trait of evenly distributed body fat has been a key to her success) Lynne trained her body to tolerate many hours of freezing temperatures that might kill a normal person in a matter of minutes.
In 2002, Cox was the first person to swim more than a mile in 32 degree water to the ice-bound shore of Antarctica, where she was greeted by a flock of penguins. Her accounting of the project, is covered in her first book, Swimming to Antarctica,which was published by Alfred A. Knopf in 2004, and soon became a best-seller, and received extensive coverage in the New Yorker magazine.
This was followed in 2006 with her second book, Grayson, the true account of her encounter with a lost baby gray whale during an early morning workout off the coast of California, was published in 2006.
Lynne Cox was named one of the notable women of 2003 by Glamour Magazine, and has been featured on 60 Minutes, profiled in People and Biography, praised by Oliver Sacks and President Ronald Reagan, and inducted into the Swimming Hall of Fame. A documentary on her aired on the Discovery Channel. In August 2006 she swam across the Ohio River in Cincinnati from the Serpentine Wall to Newport, Kentucky to bring attention to plans to decrease the water quality standards for the Ohio River.
The asteroid 37588 Lynnecox was named in her honor .
She and her dog Cody were long-time familiar figures on the sidelines at many Los Al soccer games at Laurel Field.
- Lynne Cox official website
- CBS coverage of her swim to Antarctica
- NPR interview with Lynne Cox
- Author interview