Book of the Week: Swimmer Girls

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It’s summer and thoughts of road trips, backyard barbecues, and days spent in the pool are creeping in.

But while we’re imagining carefree splashing in the sun, other people have more meaningful associations with pool time.

Case in point, Elizabeth Baddeley’s book “Swimmer Girls,” a collection of words and images about her experience on the girl’s swim team in high school.

The project began as an assignment required to complete her MFA at the School of Visual Arts. She chose her memories of competitive high school swimming as the inspiration for her work and created a series of images depicting the feelings and experiences of being in the pool.

swimmer girls Book of the Week:  Swimmer Girls

Without any words, her images tell the story of being pushed to do something exceptionally hard for the first time in her life, the solitude of swimming, and the struggles and exhilaration of athletic competition.

The figures convey so much character and vulnerability; there’s something both quirky and vividly real about the way Baddeley captures people.

swimmer girls 2 Book of the Week:  Swimmer Girls

The colors and textures of the water are incredibly beautiful and soothing.

water samples Book of the Week:  Swimmer Girls

And her hand lettering is a perfect wavy complement to the visuals.

The words she chose to include came after the images. While working on the written element, Baddeley learned that her swim coach passed away. This news completely reframed the book, which became an homage to “Coach” and the impact he had in shaping her life.

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Her Swimmer Girl series won a gold medal from the Society of Illustrators in the sequential category, which we suspect will be just one of many accolades that Baddeley will receive.

Check out the full book preview (it’s incredibly moving – be prepared!) and other works of Baddeley’s for sale in her Etsy shop.

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