The best movies about swimming

Despite how impressive swimming is, there actually aren’t that many movies about the sport. We imagine that the reason for this is because it is quite hard to film swimming as it involves underwater cameras and equipment, plus you don’t really get to see the reactions of the athletes in a race underwater like you can in a running race for example. However, there are some excellent movies about swimming, we’ve outlined what we believe to be the best here:

The Other Shore (2013)

This documentary follows open-water swimmer Diana Nyad as she comes out of retirement to try and swim from Cuba to Florida again, without the use of a shark cage. It’s an amazing and inspiring documentary that is well worth a watch,

Pride (2007)

This movie is based on the real story of swim coach James “Jim” Ellis, who coached a team of troubled black teens into good swimmers who competed at the Philadelphia state championships in the 1970s. It’s an inspiring story and although it deals with serious themes, it shows the positive impact that swimming can have on the lives of young people.

Kim Swims (2017)

This documentary follows Kim Chambers as she tries to become the first woman to swim from Farallon Islands to the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. Not only is this a far distance (48km) through choppy water, it’s also shark-infested and dangerous. The documentary is inspiring and even though Kim is one of the top open-water swimmers in the world at the time of filming, it’s still a remarkable feat. The film has received acclaim critically and is particularly praised for showing a woman attempting a challenge that competitive male swimmers would shy away from.

Swim Team (2016)

This is another really inspiring swimming movie about the parents of a boy with autism who form a competitive swimming team. The entire team is made up of other boys on the autistic spectrum, but the unique approach of the coaches is what makes this film so interesting. There is no pity for them, only tough love and training. The film is not just about the amazing power of swimming as a sport, but also about the unique manner in which some kids need to be taught and trained. You can stream this movie via Kanopy.

The Swimmer (1968)

This is a really interesting movie from the late 60s about a rich ad-man (played by legendary actor Burt Lancaster) who decides to swim 8 miles home through the swimming pools in people’s backyards. As he is swimming from pool to pool, he becomes increasingly disturbed by the things he sees and the things he realizes about himself. The movie is essentially a critique of American suburbia and was definitely ahead of its time. It also works as a movie about the simplicity of swimming. This movie is also sitting with a perfect 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Currently, you can find this movie streaming via The Criterion Channel.

Swimfan (2002)

Ok, we’ll admit it – this might not be the best movie about swimming that we’ve ever seen, but it is definitely a guilty pleasure. It’s about a guy who basically has to choose between his swimming career and the new girl in town. We would describe this as trashy, kinda forgettable, and even pretty bad at points, but the type of movie that is fun to watch on a lazy Sunday. Give it a watch if that sounds like your type of thing.

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