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Coming October 11, 2022, She Writes Press 

With Fairley's second memoir, she chronicles her experience during the early years of Title IX and sorts through the lifelong impact of the backbreaking and sometimes soul-crushing work of competitive swimming.


“Kim Fairley has an important story to tell, and she tells it beautifully as well as accurately. The struggles she faced in the pool barely compare to the challenges she faced out of the water, and the lessons she learned are important ones for all of us.”

—John Naber, Olympic swimming champion, broadcaster, and author of Eureka, Olympic Trivia Challenge! and Awaken the Olympian Within

Book cover design by Elke Barter Design

In 1979, the Real People television show featured women lifeguards in Los Angeles County. Filled with dangerous riptides, the South Bay was said to have been one of the most dangerous areas for ocean swimming in the United States.

I competed with several hundred men and about twenty women in a 1000-meter open water swim where I finished with four other women in the top thirty.

The opportunity to be on TV was exciting, but the interviewer insisted that we wear only our bathing suits. Feeling self-conscious about my weight, I refused to take off my jacket. We argued for a few minutes, and men representing the show threatened to keep me out of the episode. Still, I refused to give in. Eventually, the interviewer shrugged and said, "Fine. Wear the darned  jacket." To this day, I'm so glad I did.


Kim Fairley is an artist and memoirist based in Michigan who writes about wrestling with secrets and the power of dealing with trauma. Her next memoir chronicles her experience as a competitive swimmer during the early years of Title IX.

She has written two other books: Shooting Out the Lights: A Memoir and Boreal Ties: Photographs and Two Diaries of the 1901 Peary Relief Expedition.

She grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio, and attended the University of Southern California. She holds an MFA in mixed media from the University of Michigan.


See Kim Fairley's recent interview in Authority Magazine