John Cheever's "The Swimmer" was published in 1964 in the short story collection The Brigadier and the Golf Widow. Cheever once stated this story was originally meant to be part of a novel and was pared down from over 150 pages of notes. He also stated that he originally intended to write a story that paralleled the tale of Narcissus, a character in Greek mythology who died while staring at his reflection in a pool of water. However, the author eventually found the retelling of this myth too restrictive. As published, this critically acclaimed story takes place in the affluent suburbs of Westchester County, New York, and focuses on Neddy Merrill. Though no longer a young man, Neddy wants to retain his youth and believes that he is a vibrant individual and something of a hero. In an attempt to blaze new trails, he decides to find a new way home. When the story opens, Neddy is at a cocktail party and realizes that by following the chain of private and public pools in his affluent community, he can literally swim home. Praised for its blend of realism and surrealism, the story is respected for its dreamlike and nightmarish aspects, as well as its thematic exploration of suburban America and the life cycle. Critics admire Cheever's commentary on affluence, hypocrisy, and the relationship between wealth and happiness in "The Swimmer," along with his use of myth and symbolism.