Swimming book Swell: A Waterbiography by Jenny Landreth has made the seven-strong shortlist of the William Hill Sports Book of the Year Award. The ‘Bookie Prize’ – now in its 29th year – is sports-writing’s most valuable and prestigious prize.
Swell is both personal watery memoir and the story of the ‘swimming suffragettes’ – the women who took on the swimming status quo, fought for equal access, and won.
“Apparently, I wrote a ‘sports’ book. Apparently, what we do is ‘sport’! Who knew?” said Jenny, who is a regular outdoor swimmer at Tooting Bec Lido in south London. “Thanks for all the inspiration, Tooting.”
The shortlist encompasses swimming, football, cycling, boxing and horse racing.
“Never had we even heard of a ‘waterbiography’, let alone a tide-turning tale of swimming emancipation,” said chairman of the judges and co-founder of the award, Graham Sharpe.
The shortlist of seven books was whittled down from a longlist of 16, which also included Judy Murray’s autobiography Knowing the Score: My Family and Our Tennis Story, written with another outdoor swimmer, Alexandra Heminsley, author of Leap In. The longlist included five books written by women, with a total of nine female authors and co-authors. Progress indeed.
The winner will be announced at a glittering reception at BAFTA, in central London, on 28 November. The winning author will receive a cheque for £29,000, as well as a £2,500 William Hill bet and a day at the races.
The full shortlist is:
1. The Greatest Comeback: From Genocide to Football Glory by David Bolchover (Biteback Publishing)
2. Ali: A Life by Jonathan Eig (Simon & Schuster)
3. Quiet Genius: Bob Paisley, British Football’s Greatest Manager by Ian Herbert (Bloomsbury Sport, Bloomsbury)
4. Swell: A Waterbiography by Jenny Landreth (Bloomsbury Sport, Bloomsbury)
5. Tom Simpson: Bird on the Wire by Andy McGrath (Rapha Editions)
6. Centaur by Declan Murphy and Ami Rao (Doubleday, Transworld)
7. Breaking Ground: Art, Archaeology and Mythology edited by Neville Gabie, Alan Ward and Jason Wood (Axis Projects)