Whale talk by Chris Crutcher
I love Chris Crutcher's work. His characters are flawed, human, funny, have issues - and hope.
In Whale talk the hero is TJ Jones (the J is redundant - his full name is The Dow Jones). TJ is attitude on legs. He's one of 3 'people of colour' in his town - and the other two aren't his parents. His English teacher makes him captain of the non-existent school swim team - and TJ has his own agenda. His team is made up of rejects - and he wants every single one of them to letter in swimming. Driving together to meets, they bond and share life stories.
In so many ways it's like Stotan! - which is also fabulous - but each book has its own strengths.
You don't have to like swimming - or even sport - to appreciate the characters and their lives.