'Why We Swim' Looks For Answers In People And Places Across The Globe

Environment: NPR
|

Automatic TRANSCRIPT

And humans came from. Dust says ECCLESIASTES DIS but Bonnie Sui us that humankind also wants sprang from end still seeks. Water why we swim is her latest book which Texas from Ponds Pools to surfers racers and a few who have survived icy currents Bonnie Soy who writes frequently for the New York Times in California Sunday magazine. Join just for more home in Berkeley California. Thanks so much for being with us. Thanks so much for having me Scott. You begin with an amazing story about a man whose name I will not chance to even try and say March Eleven nineteen eighty-four what happened on this planet. Good Liquor Thorson. He's an Icelandic fishermen and fishing trawler with his crew. It's calm waters it's cold it's forty one degrees and the boat overturns with forty one degree water within twenty to thirty minutes we die from hypothermia but he did not everyone else did and he ended up swimming six hours and when he finally got to the hospital the doctors weren't able to discern his heartbeat or read his temperature on the thermometer but he didn't show any signs of hypothermia and he was only a little bit dehydrated. He was a strong swimmer certainly but was he also saved by his own biology. He was like the story very much. Because it is this the distillation of what makes swimming so special for humans. We have to learn how to swim. we're not born knowing how to do it instinctively and yet there are sort of traces of that evolutionary past still within us that our evolutionary past that came from the sea and so with good liquor for. Thorson turns out that his body fat was two to three times normal human thickness and more solid and so he resembled a Marine Mammal. More than terrestrial mammal. And that saved him. Did you grow up feeling? Pull into the even. If it was only Jones Beach in New York I did. I mean my family origin story is at my parents met no swimming pool in Hong Kong. We grew up with swimming family and so we grew up at Jones beach in the pool. Lifeguards swim team. I just always remember feeling more comfortable and happy in the water actually than on land. I mean there's just a sense of magic that you get from being in the water and buoyancy that you just don't have on land you in this book talk to swimmers all over the world right nearby you though you you swim San Francisco Bay without a wet suit and there are people including I gather you who believe that's actually good for you in all ways it can be. I mean I have also talked to scientists and researchers who say cardiovascular risk. Don't go into sudden shock cold water because it could stop your heart that aside a wr decided there are benefits to cold water immersion. And there's been quite a bit of research in recent years where your dopamine levels go up in your over time that your cardiovascular system is strengthened and you know there are people there are things that we knew from across cultures around the world that there was a water cure there. Was you know jumping in cold? Water was good for you and jumping in hot water and then jumping into cold water and so we didn't know why exactly in the science kinda starting to catch up. What is this Brown fat you talk about in this book. Well this was really interesting. I did not know about Brown fat until I started swimming with a Dolphin Club swimmers in San Francisco Bay and so I went to ucsf to talk to the foremost researchers in Brown fat and it turns out that mammals are born with two kinds of white fat which we all know about the energy stores of our bodies and Brown fat which actually Burns and produces heat energy. We kind of start to lose it as we get older but there are ways to do what's called the Browning of white fat which is to kind of turn it into energy burning tissue. That fat is called Beige Fat. And so what? Kind of encourages. The development of beige fat is cold water exposure and exercise among other things. But those have been proven to be causing this change in our bodies. Wonder if you have any words for people who aren't able to swim these days you know. The water is a draw for us no matter what and so even if you can't get in the water if you can walk near it can look at. It can see it can You know have some what a wall Nichols calls domestic waters in your house and you know. Take about the shower. Just look at imagery watches surf movie. I mean those things. Make a difference for our souls and our the way our bodies and brains work. Click we respond to those set points in the environment and even if we can't get in the waters right now you know the ocean will be waiting for us. The pools we waiting for us on the other side of this Bonnie Choi. Her book why we swim she in the Water

Coming up next