• The Three-Year Swim Club

  • The Untold Story of Maui's Sugar Ditch Kids and Their Quest for Olympic Glory
  • By: Julie Checkoway
  • Narrated by: Alex Chadwick
  • Length: 14 hrs and 48 mins
  • 4.2 out of 5 stars (171 ratings)

1 title per month from Audible’s entire catalog of best sellers, and new releases.
Access a growing selection of included Audible Originals, audiobooks and podcasts.
You will get an email reminder before your trial ends.
Your Premium Plus plan is $14.95 a month after 30 day trial. Cancel anytime.
Buy for $29.95

Buy for $29.95

Pay using card ending in
By confirming your purchase, you agree to Audible's Conditions of Use and Amazon's Privacy Notice. Taxes where applicable.

Publisher's Summary

For listeners of Unbroken and The Boys in the Boat comes the inspirational, untold story of impoverished children who transformed themselves into world-class swimmers.

In 1937, a schoolteacher on the island of Maui challenged a group of poverty-stricken sugar plantation kids to swim upstream against the current of their circumstance. The goal? To become Olympians.

They faced seemingly insurmountable obstacles. The children were Japanese-American, were malnourished and barefoot, and had no pool; they trained in the filthy irrigation ditches that snaked down from the mountains into the sugarcane fields. Their future was in those same fields, working alongside their parents in virtual slavery, known not by their names but by numbered tags that hung around their necks. Their teacher, Soichi Sakamoto, was an ordinary man whose swimming ability didn't extend much beyond treading water.

In spite of everything, including the virulent anti-Japanese sentiment of the late 1930s, in their first year the children outraced Olympic athletes twice their size; in their second year, they were national and international champs, shattering American and world records and making headlines from LA to Nazi Germany. In their third year, they'd be declared the greatest swimmers in the world, but they'd also face their greatest obstacle: the dawning of a world war and the cancellation of the games. Still, on the battlefield, they'd become the 20th century's most celebrated heroes, and in 1948 they'd have one last chance for Olympic glory.

They were the Three-Year Swim Club. This is their story.

©2015 Julie Checkoway (P)2015 Hachette Audio
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History

More from the same

What listeners say about The Three-Year Swim Club

Average Customer Ratings
Overall
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    90
  • 4 Stars
    48
  • 3 Stars
    21
  • 2 Stars
    9
  • 1 Stars
    3
Performance
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    84
  • 4 Stars
    35
  • 3 Stars
    22
  • 2 Stars
    13
  • 1 Stars
    4
Story
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    100
  • 4 Stars
    32
  • 3 Stars
    13
  • 2 Stars
    8
  • 1 Stars
    4

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Great story but the Hawaiian words get slaughtered

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

The true story of plantation workers' kids from Maui making it to the US swim finals and Olympics is remarkable. Lots of history. Rewarding story.

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Three-Year Swim Club?

The story of the coach.

What didn’t you like about Alex Chadwick’s performance?

He did not study the Hawai'ian language and slaughtered words and place names. Listening to that aspect for me was a nightmare.
I have complained before to audible that many of their readers when reading a foreign language have no knowledge and consequently hurt their listeners' ears with mispronunciations.

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

14 Hours And 47 Minutes That Fly By In A Wet Blur!

Okay, so obviously if you're Hawaiian you're going to find the pronunciations slaughtered beyond belief (and Chadwick drops the names/words so casually you think he knows what he's saying...!). I don't know if that's enough to also slaughter the story, but it's gotta be obnoxious.
If you can get past that, this is a fine story that at first I thought needed to be edited some as it chronicles practically EVERYthing within about a ten-year span of time: practices, exercises, swim meets, family lives, etc. But I found that I actually didn't mind it all so much as I cared about the people greatly. And sure you can Google any of it and find results, but The Three-Year Swim Club is written in such an engaging style, it's all quite fascinating.
Don't expect too much of the poverty the kids are born into/live in; that's just the earliest part of the book (and it may be the best part because what Sakamoto does to get things going/keep things going is so clever and creative!). Do expect plenty of things like swim timing and training. (All right, that's my only beef).
Training/exercises are fascinating, swim meets will have you on the edge of your seat, and the kids/young men and women are delightful, even the one young man who was written in as vain and entitled.
This is about kids in hard circumstances, doing what it takes all for a chance to believe in something, to believe in themselves. It's about keeping that faith even while the world around them devolves into chaos and war. It's about second chances and even first and last ones. Mostly, it's about devotion and faith.
I'm glad it wasn't edited any other way.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Bad pronunciations

Interesting book but too many mispronunciations of Hawaiian and Japanese names, places and other words.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Mispronounced beyond Recognition

Coming from Hawaii, this would have been a great listen if the narrator hadn't bastardized the pronunciation of the character's names and places in the book. Some of the words were mispronounced so badly that I had to rewind over and over to figure out what or whom the narrator was talking about.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Great Book to Read!

What made the experience of listening to The Three-Year Swim Club the most enjoyable?

I loved hearing the stories since they were similar to those I heard in HI while I was growing up. But listening to them was painful to my ears so I could only stand to listen in little snips.

Would you be willing to try another one of Alex Chadwick’s performances?

However, how hard he tried, Alex Chadwick mangled many of the Japanese and Hawaiian words. His English pronunciation was fine so he may be a great reader for a book without those foreign words.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Great story, needed a different reader

Being from Hawai'i and just one generation out from the events in this book, I loved the book. It held me rapt the entire time. The only criticism I have is that the publishers should have chosen a more appropriate reader. The narration was full of mispronunciations that were galling in light of the discrimination the swimmers and coach faced. The reader never even pronounced the name of Soichi Sakamoto correctly.

Beyond that, the story is an important one and Julie Checkoway did a wonderful job of retelling it.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Excellent history and good story

Goodness but I enjoyed this book. I have been traveling to Hawaii for almost 50 years now and I learned so much history from this book. I had no idea about the Maui swim club's success nor how important swimming and swim meets were on Oahu. The research was thorough and added important detail to the story as it unfolded. Anyone interested in a good story or Hawaii, let alone swimming, should enjoy this book. Hats off and mahalo to the author. The narration was excellent throughout and mispronunciations were few and far between.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Wonderful story, bad pronounciations

Great story that I never heard about before. Enjoyed the story but the offended by the pronunciations of many of the Japanese names by the narrator. Although the he was consistently incorrect throughout the book to misprouncing the names, for me it was like nails on a chalkboard each and every time. Me and my fellow Hawaiian family and friends are very proud of our names and heritage. But the story itself was well written and the details of the swim meets, the Olympics and the training methods of Mr. Sakamoto are amazing.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

a historical masterpiece

a struggle for me for the first few chapters...so glad I kept going. it brought tears in more than a few places as it celebrates true athletic spirit and grit that requires the same from coaches who are able to skillfully hone the roughest stones into sleek turbo charged competitive diamonds.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Great story

Author did incredible research. Too bad it was tainted by so many mispronunciations of so many place names and people’s names.