Reading: Nancy Stearns Bercaw

Nancy Stearns Bercaw

Dryland: One Woman's Swim to Sobriety


Monday, June 26 at 7:00pm
In this adventuresome memoir, a former champion swimmer reflects on years of wandering the globe, where tragic events and a lost sense of self escalate her dependence on yet another kind of liquid. Thirty-three years after her first sip of alcohol, Nancy comes to a stunning realization while living with her husband and son in Abu Dhabi—she’s drowning in the desert. She looks to the Bedouin people, and Islam, for the strength to go dry for good. 

For swimming champion Nancy Stearns Bercaw, the pool was a natural habitat. But on land, she could never shake the feeling of being a fish out of water. Starting at age two, Nancy devoted her life to swimming, even qualifying for the 1988 Olympic Trials in the fifty-meter freestyle event. But nearly two decades later, when she hung up her cap and goggles, she was confronted with a different kind of challenge: learning who she was out of the lanes.

In this honest, intimate memoir, Nancy reflects on her years wandering the globe, where tragic events and a lost sense of self escalate her dependence on booze. Thirty-three years after her first sip of alcohol, the swimmer comes to a stunning realization while living with her husband and son in Abu Dhabi—she’s drowning in the desert. Nancy looks to the Bedouin people for the strength to conquer one final opponent: alcohol addiction.

“A brave, honest, adventurous memoir that keeps you turning pages as Bercaw travels around the world and rediscovers what it really means to win…at life.” —Leigh Newman, author of Still Points North

Writer and national champion swimmer Nancy Stearns Bercaw is a seventeen-time NCAA All-American athlete and was inducted into the University of South Florida’s Athletic Hall of Fame in 2009. Her writing has appeared in publications around the world, including the New York Times, the Huffington Post, the Korea Herald, U.S. News & World Report, Abu Dhabi’s Tempo magazine, and ScaryMommy.com. She is the author of Brain in a Jar: A Daughter’s Journey Through Her Father’s Memory. She lives in Vermont with her husband and son.

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