As a former world-ranked swimmer whose journey toward naturalization and U.S. citizenship began with a swimming fellowship, Piotr Florczyk reflects on his own adventures in swimming pools while taking a closer look at artists, architects, writers, and others who have helped to cement the swimming pool’s prominent and iconic role in our society and culture. Swimming Pool (Object Lessons series) explores the pool as a place where humans seek to attain the unique union between mind and body. New York: Bloomsbury Academic, 2024.

Object Lessons, a series of short, beautifully designed books about the hidden lives of ordinary things, is published in partnership with an essay series in The Atlantic.

A beautifully associative work, in which Florczyk makes visible the often-hidden role that swimming pools have long played in the global artistic, cultural, and literary landscape. Whether shaped like kidney beans and back lit or of Olympic dimensions with the perfect gutters and that ever-present black line-whether sighted jewel-like from the air as signs of suburban ‘white flight,’ or drained, abandoned, and re-appropriated by the skateboarders who also surf-swimming pools are emblems of everything from sanctuary, to privilege, to athleticism, to leisure. Florczyk’s language flows around this object, and I encourage all readers to plunge in.

—Emily Hodgson Anderson, Professor of English and College Dean of Undergraduate Education, University of Southern California

Having spent most of my life around a pool, no one would fault me taking it for granted. But Swimming Pool tells a unique and compelling story of the swimming pool, allowing me to appreciate that it’s more than just a place to cool off or go back and forth along a black line. Florczyk has done a remarkable job bringing to the surface the potentially unanticipated way that pools have affected us, for the good and the bad.

—Rada Owen, USA Olympic Swim Team, 2000