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Alive in the Water

Glenda Carroll — Tamalpais Aquatic Masters


glendaOn September 1, 2003, Glenda Carroll, a veteran open water swimmer and member of TAM, participated in her first Waikiki Roughwater Swim. That turned out to be the infamous year when adverse conditions resulted in the rescue of 361 competitors. Just one-third of the 900 swimmers who started the race were able to complete it and Glenda, with an equal amount of skill, creativity, patience and guile, was among them.

That morning, after battling the relentless current for some 45 minutes and realizing that she wasn't making any progress, Glenda decided to call it a day and started swimming back to shore. But when she noticed that the current lessened the closer she drew to the beach, she decided to simply start zig-zagging her way through all the surf breaks that dotted the 2.4 mile course until she successfully reached the finish line.

It's precisely that type of cleverness and tenacity that propelled Glenda through the writing and publication of her first novel, Dead in the Water — a whodunit set against the backdrop of open water swimming.
Glenda Carroll
Glenda's mystery opens when Trisha Carson, an unlikely heroine, watches as one of Northern California's top competitive swimmers suddenly starts to struggle during a lake race and eventually succumbs. Trisha becomes convinced that his death must be the result of foul play. When her sister and just about everyone else scoffs at her suspicions, she decides to conduct her own investigation. And so begins a unique, entertaining romp that is equally appealing to swimmers and non-swimmers alike.

"I didn't know who did it," says Glenda, who, like her protagonist, lives in San Rafael. "I figured it out as I went along."

Since the sport has been in her DNA for over six decades, it only makes sense that Glenda would set her sights on open water swimming when it came to penning her first book.

"These are things I know about really, really well," she says.

Glenda Carroll - childGlenda first learned how to swim in a Pennsylvania lake, she's participated in more than 150 open water events and she recently concluded a five-year stint as the Open Water Chair for Pacific Masters. It's heady stuff for someone who never competed in age group, high school or collegiate swimming and was never part of a team prior to joining TAM over twenty years ago.

As is the case with all good writing, Glenda's work blurs the line between fact and fiction. While many of the elements in her story can be traced to real life incidents or places, an equal or greater number can be attributed to Glenda's healthy imagination — one, she admits, was sparked as a young girl while reading about the escapades of Nancy Drew.

"I've always liked to read mysteries," she says. "That's what I gravitate to."

Before Glenda discovered masters swimming, she learned how to sail and race sailboats. And, as further evidence that she is a waterwoman of the highest magnitude, she even became a surfer, traveling to such exotic locales as Costa Rica, El Salvador and Mexico with board in tow.

It's clear that it is in and around the water where Glenda feels the most comfortable and alive.

Glenda's professional career has been as diverse as her aquatic pursuits. She once served as ExGlenda and Rickyecutive Director of Yacht Racing Association of San Francisco Bay, she wrote a long-time column on yachting for the Marin Independent Journal and she worked as a Communications Manager at Kaiser Permanente. Today, she and her son Ricky both work in guest services for the San Francisco Giants.

Dead in the WaterNow she's hard at work on her next book, the sequel to Dead in the Water, which she envisions will be the second installment of at least a trilogy. Her teammates at TAM have proven to be an endless source of inspiration and support, particularly Rich Burns, who designed her first book's striking cover and bookmarks.

Glenda is eager to find out where Trisha's on-going journey will take her next.

"Water sports have given me an excuse to see a lot of different places," she says with a laugh —whether real or imagined.

Tito Morales is a freelance writer and the author of the literary fiction novel Forward Swim. To learn more, visit

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