Blog Tour: Goldfish by Nat Luurtsema

Pub Date: June 7, 2016
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Genre: young adult contemporary, sports fiction
Status: standalone
Summary: Lou Brown is one of the fastest swimmers in the county. She’s not boasting, she really is. So things are looking pretty rosy the day of the Olympic time-trials. With her best mate Hannah by her side, Lou lines up by the edge of the pool, snaps her goggles on and bends into her dive… 

Everything rests on this race. It’s Lou’s thing.

… or it was. She comes dead last and to top it all off Hannah sails through leaving a totally broken Lou behind.

Starting again is never easy, particularly when you’re the odd-one out in a family of insanely beautiful people and a school full of social groups way too intimidating to join. Where do you go from here? Finding a new thing turns out to be the biggest challenge Lou’s ever faced and opens up a whole new world of underwater somersaults, crazy talent shows, bitchy girls and a great big load of awkward boy chat. 

Lou Brown guides us through the utter humiliation of failure with honesty, sass and a keen sense of the ridiculous. This girl will not be beaten.

Today on the blog, I have something special to share with you. My friend Jenny Connolly was a competitive swimmer, competing both for the University of Tennessee during her college days and at USA swimming events around the world. Reading Goldfish made me think of her (and miss her tons because we now live in separate states) so for my stop on the Goldfish tour, I'm interviewing Jenny about her days as a swimmer. She gives great advice how to not drown, how to follow your dreams, and some book recs!

My first-ever karaoke night with Jenny & our friend Ootz

Can you describe what an average day in the life of a competitive swimmer looked like for you? 
Jenny Connolly: It looks different for different age groups and different levels of swimmers. But at my highest level (college) I would have morning practice starting at 5:30am and going until 7:30am. Then class and lunch. If I'm lucky, I'd fit in a nap in the early afternoon. I'd have afternoon practice starting at 2:15pm going until 5:00/5:15pm. During some of those practices we would have drylands workouts (strength exercises). Three days a week we would have weights before practice. After afternoon practice we would have our own time whether that was tutor sessions, homework, study hours, eating dinner, and/or relaxing. Then bedtime. Saturday was a whole different story. We would have practice starting at 7:00am and go until about 10:00am, and then have weights for an hour after that. Ending times of practices would fluctuate due to a 20 hour practice limit.

Did you ever have any race rituals or mottos that got you through tough moments?
Jenny: I didn't have any real "mottos" that I'd say... But I did focus on what I could control in that race or practice. In meets I would always say a prayer before every race, and I would tell myself to trust my training and my coach, and then I'd try to clear my head of all thoughts and just focus on racing. In practice I'd just try to focus on the set at hand at that particular practice and tell myself that I just needed to take one set at a time.

What's your favorite stroke and/or least favorite stroke? Why? Also, feel free to share tips how to not drown while attempting the butterfly. 
Jenny: My favorite stroke is butterfly, but I was best at backstroke. Butterfly and backstroke just came naturally to me. I was a powerful swimmer, so butterfly came pretty easy to me. Breaststroke was my least favorite... Either you get the rhythm of breaststroke, or you don't. And I could just never get it down. Tips on not drowning during butterfly.... that can be tough... haha. I think just finding the rhythm and using your walls when you turn to get as much air (and sometimes rest) that you can! :)

Brag about yourself for a minute: what was one (or two!) moment/race/tournament you are super proud of?
I've always been very proud of my Junior and Senior year at SEC's (Conference Championships). It was the Friday night session and I was seeded first in 2 events (100 butterfly and 100 backstroke) and had the 400 medley relay (backstroke leg). That is a LOT of competing at a championship meet for just one session. But I'm proud of that meet because my mind was more powerful than it had ever been and I was the toughest I'd been as a competitor. I won both individual events and my team won the relay. Three event wins in one session. It was pretty spectacular.
I would just like to add that watching Jenny compete was pretty spectacular. 

Who are you cheering for in the Olympics / who is your favorite swimmer?
MOLLY HANNIS. She's a former Tennessee teammate of mine! She made the Olympic Team in the 200 breaststroke. Everyone cheer her on! She's a spectacular person and a great role model.

I have no idea why this picture happened, but okay. 
Boss lady friends are the best kind of friends.

What advice would you give to someone who is pursuing their passion?
Don't stop! You're in charge of your future. So decide to take charge, dig deep, and just do it. You'll be amazed at what great experiences and memories you'll have and create.

And, finally, do you have any book recommendations?
Not for swimming... But I'm totally going to brag here- my sister, Rebecca Connolly, is a published author. She writes clean historic romance novels (Regency Era). They are AWESOME. Very witty. I couldn't put her books down! So far 3 are out in this series. They are called An Arrangement of Sorts, Married to the Marquess, and Secrets of a Spinster. Look her up!

So... the mc's name in Secrets of a Spinster is Mary. Jenny, did your sister base that book on my life?? Thank you, Jenny, for taking the time to answer my questions! *sends all the long-distance hugs*

Purchase Links:
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About the Author:
Nat Luurtsema is a BAFTA-nominated screenwriter, a BAFTA Rocliffe alumni, stand-up comic, author, actor and a third of sketch group Jigsaw.

She has just finished directing WYRDOES, a comedy feminist ‘Macbeth’, with backing from Film London, Film4 and the British Arts Council. It will be a part of the Shakespeare Lives worldwide tour, which will play to an audience of 500 million.

Nat plays Tallulah Bankhead in FLORENCE FOSTER JENKINS, directed by Stephen Frears.

Nat is developing two feature films and adapting the novel Spilt Milk Black Coffee by Helen Cross, for Mighty Atom Entertainment.

Nat’s latest book is a Young Adult novel – GIRL OUT OF WATER – to be published June 2016 in the UK, Germany, France and Italy. It will simultaneously publish as GOLDFISH in USA.

Author Links:


  1. Thanks for the spotlight on this book. I hadn't heard of it before. Sounds like a really enjoyable read!

  2. My daughter was on the swim team last year. It's definitely a different world than the leisurely lazy river!

    1. VERY different. Swimming takes a lot of dedication. I tried it once during high school, but I learned I prefer to swim for fun and for personal exercise than for competition.

  3. I love books centered around sports and I've never found a swimming one before. This would be an excellent time to read this book with the Olympics starting this week.

    1. I think Miranda Kenneally will be doing a swimming-themed story for her next Hundred Oaks installment, and Jennifer Echols's Forget You is also about characters on a high school swim team. It's a favorite of mine!