Inspiring sports read-alikes for The Three-Year Swim Club

Staff Picks

Inspiring sports read-alikes for The Three-Year Swim Club

If you enjoyed reading The Three-Year Swim Club: the Untold Story of Maui’s Sugar Ditch Kids and Their Quest for Olympic Glory by Julie Checkoway, you might enjoy reading the following books.

Dust Bowl Girls: the Inspiring Story of the Team That Barnstormed Its Way to Basketball Glory by Lydia Reeder
Like the Sugar Ditch kids, the women’s basketball team of Oklahoma Presbyterian College were an underdog team who defied expectations. In Depression-era Oklahoma, coach Sam Babb set out to create a championship women’s basketball team by scouring farms for girls who would join the team and get a college education. Though competing in a time where competitive sports were considered unfeminine, these women and Coach Babb brought excitement in a time of hardship for many.

The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Quest for Olympic Gold at the 1936 Olympics by Daniel James Brown
In 1936, nine working class young men from the University of Washington rowed their way into Olympic glory at the Berlin Olympics. They faced classism, from their rivals, the University of California Berkeley, and fancy East Coast regattas, as well as Nazism, in the form of the German rowing team and the Third Reich propaganda of Joseph Goebbels. The story of Joe Rantz, a freshman from the country with a background of poverty and abandonment, provides an affecting narrative center.

Undefeated: Jim Thorpe and the Carlisle Indian School Football Team by Steve Sheinkin 

Jim Thorpe was once said to be the greatest all-around athlete in the world. He and his teammates, under the coaching of Glen “Pop” Warner, were on par with the storied and better-funded teams of Princeton, Yale and Harvard. However, the Carlisle Indian School of the early 1900s was working to eradicate the cultures of the players (and all its students) - forcing them to change their names, cut their hair, and prohibit them from speaking their own languages. This young adult book is a dual biography of Thorpe and Warner and a portrait of the racism of the times in both football and the wider culture.

Find A Way by Diana Nyad
Open-water marathon swimmer Diana Nyad has proven that determination and resilience are just as important as fitness and strength when pursuing a dream. In 2013, at age 64, she became the first person confirmed to swim from Cuba to Florida without a shark cage. She’s faced many obstacles - from childhood sexual abuse to the financial and physical demands of training, to the more mental challenge of having ended her swimming career three decades prior. An inspiring read about pursuing your dreams, no matter how big and no matter your age.

Triumph: the Untold Story of Jesse Owens and Hitler’s Olympics by Jeremy Schaap
Jesse Owens is considered by some to be the best Olympian ever. He grew up in poverty in 1920s Cleveland and encountered the discrimination faced by all African Americans of the time, even after he set records in the NCAA and the Olympics in numerous events. The author tries to find the truth in the myths that sprung up after the 1936 Berlin Olympics, where Owens performed in front of Hitler and the world.

Color Blind: The Forgotten Team That Broke Baseball’s Color Line by Tom Dunkel
10 years before Jackie Robinson broke the color line in professional baseball, an integrated North Dakota baseball team won the 1935 semi-professional championship. Successful Bismarck car salesman Neil Churchill sought to put together the best players, regardless of race, and his roster occasionally included the legendary pitcher Satchel Paige.

Seabiscuit: An American Legend by Laura Hillenbrand
Seabiscuit didn’t look like much - certainly not like a championship racehorse - with his knobbly knees and stunted legs. However, with a dedicated team of owner, jockey and trainers, he made 20th century racing history.  

Join us for a book discussion of The Three-Year Swim Club at the National Portrait Gallery on June 18 at 5:30 p.m.