Most people have gone swimming at some point, even if for fun. But if you want to know more about what swimming is like for professionals and competitors, you should watch swimming movies and documentaries.
There are tons of them available, so there’s something for everyone. Consider a few of the best swimming movies and documentaries to watch.
Top 10 Swimming Movies and Documentaries
Whether you want some inspiration as a swimmer or to find something entertaining to watch, consider some of the best swimming movies and documentaries. These movies are very different, so there’s something for everyone.
If you want to learn more about being a professional swimmer, check out Unfiltered. It takes a look at Michael Phelps and Ian Crocker, two high caliber, professional swimmers. While many non-swimmers know about Phelps, Crocker is just as skilled and has won multiple times.
The documentary follows their lives out of the pool as they deal with legal trouble and mental health. You can learn how each swimmer deals with their fame and how they prepare for world championships. At two hours, this movie isn’t for the faint of heart, but it can be eye-opening.
2. Touch the Wall
Another documentary about a skilled swimmer is Touch the Wall, which is about Missy Franklin. Franklin was a good swimmer to begin with. But after working with Kara Lynn Joyce, she starts to have higher expectations for swimming.
The documentary shows Missy improve as a swimmer, and it’s a good option for the whole family. It lasts about an hour and 40 minutes, and you can watch it online for free. If you have a girl swimmer in your family, you won’t want to miss this one.
3. Swimming Upstream
This swimming movie is based on the story of Australian swimmer Tony Fingleton. It focuses on Tony’s father, Harold, and how Harold wants Tony and Tony’s brother John to be great. He sees them both swim well and focuses on training in that sport.
Tony struggles to make his father proud, and Harold struggles with alcohol abuse and physically abusing his family. This movie is a great show of family bonds and the pressures of being an Olympic swimmer. It’s a great choice if you like learning about real-life swimmers but aren’t a huge fan of traditional documentaries.
Another fictional film about a real situation, Pride covers the first African-American swim team. The movie starts in 1970s Philadelphia when the swim coach is looking for a job. He starts working at a recreation center and meets kids who want to swim.
A former swimmer himself, the coach creates a swim team and prepares the kids for the state championship. Meanwhile, the team faces racial discrimination and other hardships. If you want to learn about swimming and other cultural issues, this is a great movie to watch.
5. Big River Man
Big River Man focuses on a man named Martin Strel as he tries to swim the length of the Amazon River, which is 3,375 miles. He attempts the swim in one go, making it the longest continuous swim.
Strel has swum over 22,000 miles in his life, but he faces other obstacles, like crocodiles and snakes. Prior to this attempt, Strel had swum in the Mississippi, Danube, and Yangtze rivers. This is a great movie if you like adventure and triumph.
6. Sync or Swim
The next swimming movie to watch is Sync or Swim, which focuses on synchronized swimming. It stars a group of women who want to join the 2004 Olympic synchronized swim team. This movie shows the artistic and athletic requirements of synchronized swimming.
It also showcases challenges out of the water as one of the team members faces injuries and charges after a car accident. The movie is intense but also uplifting and entertaining. It’s a great movie to watch whether you want to swim or not.
7. Men Who Swim
If you want to watch more movies on synchronized swimming, consider Men Who Swim. This movie focuses on middle-aged men from Sweden as they join Sweden’s synchronized swim team. The men all find success on the team despite not being who you’d expect to join.
As the men join the team, you can see them learn the sport. It’s even based on a real-life story of a man who moved to Sweden without knowing the language but who then started synchronized swimming. The movie is great for the whole family.
Fans of historical movies will enjoy Watermarks. It follows a few members of the 1930s Hakoah Vienna Jewish women’s swim team. As the women have to separate during Hitler’s rise to power, they have to move on, but they’re able to reunite years later.
The movie is a good option for swimming and history fans alike. You can learn a lot about the time period and the struggles the women faced. It’s a heavy movie, but it’s a film worth watching for any swimmers and swimming fans.
9. Swim Team
If you or a relative has autism, you should watch the movie Swim Team. It follows three young swimmers, all with autism, and it shares their struggles and accomplishments in the water. The movie also covers how the swim team is affecting the entire community.
It’s a great movie if you like swimming, but it can also teach you about autism. While autism can make things harder, autistic people can still do great things. You can watch this movie with the family for a wholesome evening.
10. Age of Champions
Age of Champions is an excellent swimming movie to watch if you’re an older swimmer. The film follows athletes preparing for the National Senior Games in 2009. It focuses on multiple athletes across different sports, so it’s great for all athletes to watch.
But two of the main athletes are brothers in their 80s, and they’re swimmers from Washington D.C. You can learn about the athletes’ experiences as well as the thoughts of their family and friends. It’s a great movie for anyone who thinks it’s too late to start swimming.
A Few More Swimming Movies and Documentaries to Dive Into
If you watch all of the previous movies or want more, consider these swimming movies and documentaries. Many of them offer a unique perspective on swimming, and can inspire even those who aren’t the biggest fan of getting their feet wet.
- Swim: The movie Swim is about two military men who attempt to swim across the Strait of Gibraltar, from Spain to Morocco. David Broyles is an Air Force veteran, and Rush Vann is an Army Officer, and they’d be the 16th and 17th Americans to swim the Strait. Their goal from the swim is to raise money to support disabled veterans who served in Afghanistan and Iraq.
- Swim, Santa Swim!: This movie focuses on a 52-year-old man named Nigel Reid, who is overweight. Reid has a hard time staying fit, but he enjoys swimming in cold water in South London. The documentary shows his journey to swimming in an endurance event at the World Cold Water Swimming Championships. As he nears the championships, he travels to Rovaniemi, in the Arctic Circle, which is thought to be Santa’s hometown.
- The Last Gold: The Last Gold is a historical swimming documentary, and it focuses on the 1796 Olympics. For most of the games, the German team crushes the Americans. However, the women’s team is able to come together and support each other.During the last race, four of the women bring home a gold medal after getting silver and bronze throughout the games.
- Swimmer’s Ear: A Journey to the Deaflympics: Jazmin Hernandez and Matt Klotz are two deaf teens from California. In Swimmer’s Ear, the two teens prepare for a swimming event, despite the event’s lack of awareness and funding. The movie also gives a look into Deaf culture, so the teens and audience can learn something.
- Blind Horizon: Another movie about disabled swimmers, Blind Horizon follows the paralympic medalist Enhamed Enhamed’s incredible life. He works with Fran Utrera, an Iron Man finisher. The two swim together across the Strait of Gibraltar. After going blind at age 8, Enhamed discovered his love for swimming. He has since become a professional in the sport.
(We also have an article on Best Swim Lessons and Accounts to Follow that’ll make you a better swimmer)
Swimming movies and documentaries are for more than just current and aspiring swimmers. Whether you’re looking to jump into the pool or want something inspiring or educational, you can find a swimming movie for you. Many of them feature real-life swimmers as they set out to accomplish seemingly impossible feats.
So, don’t forget to keep these documentaries and movies in mind next time you can’t decide what to watch on movie night. Even if you’re not a swimmer yourself, the swimmer in your life is sure to want to dive into these documentaries with you.