“Beyond the competition, part of the appeal of the Olympics is the many human stories, some truly remarkable and inspiring. Many remain largely untold. One such story is that of Charles Meldrum Daniels. It is a combination of athletic triumph, individual perseverance in the face of adversity, and significant social history. Kudos to Michael Loynd for his careful telling of this truly compelling story.”
On the surface, Charles Daniels had a glamorous childhood. But, in reality, Daniels suffered from extreme anxiety made worse by the demands of a cruel and narcissistic father, who eventually mired the family in scandal after scandal. Daniels’s only source of joy was swimming, an obscure activity that, at the turn of the century, was most notably associated with poor, naked kids splashing around in the East River. And he wasn’t very good at it, at least not at first. Eventually, though, he caught the eye of Otto Wahle and Lou De B. Handley, two misfits like Daniels, who were hell-bent on building a US swim program strong enough to rival the British Empire’s seventy-year juggernaut. And that’s precisely what they did.
The Watermen: The Birth of American Swimming and One Young Man’s Fight to Capture Olympic Gold uses Charles Daniels’s ascent from a lonely, neglected kid to an international icon who invented the modern freestyle stroke to propel the reader through the equally compelling history of how sports became professionalized, how a French aristocrat reinvented the Olympic Games, and how America took its place as a global power. Blending this fascinating history with unforgettable characters, The Watermen is destined to become a classic like Seabiscuit and The Boys in the Boat.
North American Publication: Ballantine, June 7, 2022
“A thrilling sports story about the power of perseverance in the Victorian age, The Watermen kept me up late into the night. There are three underdogs in this story—Charles Daniels, American swimming, and the modern Olympic Games—and I rooted for them all.”
—Lydia Reeder, author of Dust Bowl Girls
“I felt as if I had literally gone back in time to the early twentieth century. This is a story of one of the most fascinating people not only in the sport of swimming but in all of athletics. It’s about time someone recognized Charles Daniels for the impact he made on swimming. Michael Loynd has done that to perfection, and I couldn’t put it down!”
—Rowdy Gaines, Olympic gold medalist, NBC Olympic swimming commentator, AKA “The Voice of American Swimming”
“The first American ever acclaimed as the ‘world’s fastest swimmer,’ Charlie Daniels seemed to have it all—good looks, high-society background, Olympic gold, and world records galore. Out of sight, though, he had to fight his own self-doubts, the long shadow of his famous swindler-father, and a British-dominated swimming establishment that didn’t want an American to succeed . . . A lively account of high ambitions, low behavior, and a lone athlete with an indomitable will.”
—Howard Means, author of Splash!: 10,000 Years of Swimming