The Swimmer


John Cheever

Teachers and parents! Our Teacher Edition on The Swimmer makes teaching easy.

Neddy Merrill

Neddy, the story’s protagonist, is an athletic man, probably in his 30s or 40s, who lives in an unnamed suburb. At the beginning of the story, Neddy lives a comfortable, prosperous life with his wife… read analysis of Neddy Merrill


At the beginning of the story, Lucinda is Neddy Merrill’s wife, but, by the end, she and their four daughters have left him. Neddy collectively names the series of swimming pools he swims “the Lucinda… read analysis of Lucinda

Mrs. Graham

As Neddy swims across the county, he emerges into the backyard of Mrs. Graham (one of his more distant neighbors) to swim through her pool. Mrs. Graham greets Neddy by exclaiming “what a marvelous… read analysis of Mrs. Graham

Mrs. Bunker

Mrs. Bunker is another of Neddy’s neighbors. She’s hosting a party as Neddy arrives, and she’s surprised to see him, as Lucinda had previously called to tell her they weren’t coming. Mrs. Bunker speaks with… read analysis of Mrs. Bunker

Mrs. Levy

Mrs. Levy is a neighbor who isn’t home when Neddy arrives, but there are signs everywhere that she was just entertaining and left suddenly. While the Levys have a “private property sign,” Neddy spends time… read analysis of Mrs. Levy
Get the entire The Swimmer LitChart as a printable PDF.
The Swimmer PDF

The Welchers

The Welchers are neighbors who have moved away by the time Neddy arrives at their house. While he doesn’t remember that they’ve left, he intuits it from the “for sale” sign on their property and… read analysis of The Welchers

Mrs. Halloran

An older woman who is one of the wealthier residents of their town. Mrs. Halloran and her husband are known eccentrics: they are often naked in their backyard, and she takes pleasure in local speculation… read analysis of Mrs. Halloran


Helen is the Hallorans’ only daughter, and she lives right next to the Hallorans in a house they built for her. Cheever implies that Helen is close with her parents, both personally and financially. As… read analysis of Helen

Mrs. Biswanger

Mrs. Biswanger, one of Neddy’s neighbors, is having a party as Neddy arrives in her backyard. For years, she has invited Neddy and Lucinda to dinner regularly, but they have turned her down every… read analysis of Mrs. Biswanger

Shirley Adams

Neddy’s former mistress. Neddy had broken up with her after what he thought was a lighthearted affair, but she had “wept,” showing that Neddy is too focused on his own pleasure to understand how badly… read analysis of Shirley Adams
Minor Characters
Eric Sachs
Eric is Helen’s husband. Three years ago, he had a serious operation that left distinct scars on his abdomen and removed his navel. The sight of these scars disgusts Neddy, who fears an unnatural body with “no link to birth.”