Swimming has always been one of my favorite means of exercise, and it is one of the only sports I’ve ever tried when I was a kid. There’s nothing better than gliding through the water, mindlessly thinking about everything and nothing all at once while getting a full body workout.
Whether you do it for yourself or you’re on a team, swimming is something everyone should try out at least once. And if you’re like me, you probably enjoy watching movies about it as well. While they’re not as popular as football, there are some swimming movies that you can find if you look hard enough.
So, if you’re trying to find the best swimming movies to dive into for an evening, check out these amazing finds in all genres from documentaries to comedies.
Best Swimming Movies
25. Swimming with Men, Prime Video (2018)
Starting the list strong today with the 2018 British sports comedy-drama starring Rob Brydon, Jane Horrocks, Rupert Graves, Daniel Mays and more, directed by Oliver Parker. The script was based on the 2012 Swedish documentary Men Who Swim which is one of the best swimming movies you can find right now.
The story follows accountant Eric who seeks to win back his wife Heather by joining a male synchronized swim team: Men Who Swim. When joining his local team, Eric finds brotherhood in the crew as they train for the World Championships in Milan.
24. Unfiltered, Amazon (2005)
No matter if you’re a swimmer or not, you should be aware of Michael Phelps, one of the biggest competitive swimmers as well as the most successful and decorated Olympian of all time with 28 medals. The man is a legend. Watching his butterfly was always stunning.
If you’re a fan and want a more inside look at his career, check out Unfiltered, an unprecedented look into the lives and competitive rivalry of Michael Phelp and Ian Crocker, two of the greatest swimmers in America. The film follows the commitment, sacrifices and personal struggles both have made to become worthy champions and Olympic heroes. You’ll see a side of each like you’ve never seen before.
23. The Swimmer, Prime Video (2021)
The Swimmer is a recent film and is a comedy-drama. It focuses on training for the Israeli Olympic swim team, all while discussing the discriminative tendencies in sports against LGBTQ+ people. While there is some dispute with the idea that this film follows the love between two swimmers, it is a great watch.
Two swimmers are fighting for their chance at the Olympic swim team but find love instead. However, some claim that it’s not really about the romance, it’s about the psychological warfare and damage they receive along the way.
22. Dangerous When Wet, Prime Video (1953)
This live-action/animated musical comedy stars Esther Williams, Fernando Lamas and Jack Carson and was directed by Charles Walters. Dangerous When Wet follows Katie Higgins, a wholesome daughter of a dairy farmer, who receives an elixir that gives them strength in the water.
When the family notices this, they suggest swimming from the Arkansas Ozarks to foggy London and the English Channel, and when she makes an attempt, she meets a man who is smitten with her, but Katie just wants to focus on her swimming. It’s an extremely entertaining classic movie that might be fictional but still highlights the importance of training and the joy and freedom of being in the water.
21. 100 Meters, Netflix (2016)
Directed by Marcel Barrena, 100 Meters is a 2016 Spanish film based on the true story. It’s a heartwarming, inspirational film following Ramón Arroyo with multiple sclerosis. After his diagnosis, he gets told that he will soon not be able to walk.
However, when he notices that there will be an Iron-Man challenge, he decides to join in and is determined to win it. His wife’s father, Manolo, is enlisted to help encourage and train Ramón so he’s prepared, even though everyone is telling him that he won’t even be able to make it 100 meters.
20. The Last Gold, Prime Video (2016)
Another documentary that focuses on swimmers Shirley Babashoff, Kim Peyton, Jull Sterkel and Wendy Boglioli, the women who won the gold medal in the 4×100 meter relay at the 1976 Olympic Games, defeating East Germans.
This is a great untold story of a team that have battled a tragic conspiracy. The U.S. Women only had four silver medals and one bronze after so many races. Thankfully, against all odds and the media adding even more pressure, it was the final race that helped them win The Last Gold.
19. Swim Team, Amazon (1979)
This comedy movie is a little bit on the raunchy side, so beware, but is one of the best swimming movies that you can find. If documentaries are not your style and want something a bit on edge, this is a great choice. A lot of people think it’s just a dumb movie, and it is, but it makes you laugh and it’s about swimming, so it fits the bill in my opinion.
Starring Flounder and Marmalard from Animal House, this is a must to put on your list. The film follows a new swimming coach who is hired to break a team’s seven-year losing streak, but it’s not really that serious. From love, laughter, to stupidity, this is a great film.
18. Swimfan, Prime Video (2002)
Onto the next genre, this psychological thriller was directed by John Polson and written by Charles Bohl and Phillip Schneider starring Jesse Bradford, Erika Christensen and Shiri Appleby. This film can be compared to films like Fatal Attraction and Play Misty for Me.
The plot follows Ben Cronin, a star swimmer of his high school’s swim team, whose coach informs him that Standford University scouts will appear at next week’s swim meet. And what’s worse is even though Ben is in a committed long-term relationship, he has a one-night stand with another and has to deal with the repercussions of his unfaithfulness.
17. Touch the Wall, Peacock (2014)
Finding someone in the pool that matches your speed is amazing. It not only gives you a bit of competition to help you get a bit better, but it helps you both stay on track during intervals. But it can be a bit tricky if you’re battling each other for a spot during meets for the best time.
Touch the Wall is a documentary that follows swimmers Gold-Medalist Missy Franklin and Silver-Medalist Kara Lynn Joyce and their journey to the 2012 London Summer Olympics. When the veteran Joyce joins teenager Franklin and her age-group swim club, everything changes.
The veteran Kara finds a new start and a world-class training partner. Missy finds a veteran and older sister to learn from as well. Together, they train, compete, and support each other until the pool becomes a bit too big for them.
16. Kim Swims, Prime Video (2017)
If there’s one thing I know for sure, it’s that I will never venture far off the beach. My swimming is strictly for a pool, and I’m not afraid to say that. Sharks are something I will never tamper with, and I do thoroughly enjoy when you find a salt water, heated indoor pool.
Kim, however, is much braver than me. Another amazing documentary, Kim Swims follows the inspiring story of an accomplished open-water swimmer’s attempt to become the first woman to swim 30 miles through a stretch of cold, rough and shark-inhabited waters off of the San Francisco coast.
Back when this was on Netflix, I thoroughly enjoyed watching this film. It inspired me to get back in the water, especially after my two knee surgeries. There’s never an excuse to stop doing what you love, and she proved that.
15. Swimming Pool, Prime Video (2003)
Changing genres once again to something a bit more exciting is Swimming Pool, and erotic thriller directed by François Ozon and starring Charlotte Rampling and Ludivine Sagnier.
The plot follows British crime novelist, Sarah Morton, who travels to her publisher’s upmarket summer house in Southern France to seek solitude in order to work on her next book. However, with the arrival of Julie, who claims to be the daughter of the publisher, induces complications and a subsequent crime.
14. Million Dollar Mermaid, Amazon (1952)
Another Esther film, Million Doller Mermaid is based on the true story of the original “one piece bathing suit girl” and is a biographical drama film about the life of an Australian swimming star Annette Kellerman.
Directed by Mervyn LeRoy and produced by Arthur Hornblow Jr, this is one of the best swimming movies that you can find and is generally a classic that you should watch. The story follows Kellerman who overcomes polio and achieves fame from creating a scandal when her one-piece bathing suit is considered indecent.
13. Waterboys, Amazon (2001)
In school, swimming wasn’t seen as a sport really. Most thought we were playing in a pool. The only ones who knew how hard of a workout it was were the team, the coaches, and the football players during my senior year who were challenged to do a workout with us. They lasted 20 minutes.
The premise goes along with Waterboys. And no, this isn’t the Adam Sandler 1998 movie. This is a Japanese comedy film written and directed by Shinobu Yaguchi and is about a sport that I feel is harder than swimming: synchronized swimming.
As the second entry focuses on this particular sport, we can definitely deem this close enough to swimming. The story focuses on a Japanese high school class of adolescent geeks who join the new synchronized swimming team and takes part in the competition, in spite of the mockeries of the “real sportsmen”.
12. The Guardian, Prime Video (2006)
Another turn of the genre, here’s one of the first movies that some might have seen already thanks to big stars Kevin Costner and Ashton Kutcher. This 2006 action-adventure drama film was directed by Andrew Davis, with the title referring to a legendary figure within the film who protects people lost at sea known as the Guardian.
The film focuses on the United States Coast Guard and its Aviation Survival Technician program. The film follows a high school swim champion with a troubled past who enrolls in the U.S. Coast Guard’s “A” School and gets taught by legendary rescue swimmer Ben Randall.
11. Swimming Upstream, Prime Video (2003)
Once I started swimming, my brother joined in, and from that point, we shared the same love for a sport. There were always sibling competitions going on between us, and it made it hard. The simple fact that he was taller made it to where he was better, and it felt like I was in the shadows.
Swimming Upstream touches on that a bit, while also describing a dysfunctional family and a kid who never seemed to be good enough in his father’s eyes. The film is an Australian biographical drama written by Tony Fingleton and directed by Russell Mulcahy, starring Jesse Spencer, Geoffrey Rush and Judy Davis.
10. The Big Bad Swim, Prime Video (2006)
Independent films are not featured enough in a lot of lists, but thankfully, we have one of the best swimming movies here that is an independent film.
The Big Bad Swim is an independent comedy and romantic film about a group of adults who are afraid of the water but decide to enroll in an adult education beginner’s swim class. The movie takes place in southeastern Connecticut in the town of Uncasville.
9. Pride, Prime Video (2007)
Reaching the top of the best swimming movies, we have an amazing entry, Pride, a biographical film loosely based on the true story of Philadelphia swim coach James “Jim” Ellis, and stars Terrence Howard, Bernie Mac and Kimberly Elise.
The story is set in 1974 and follows Jim Ellis who is having a hard time finding employment. While working on finding something better, he decides to use his former competitive swimming experience to get a job as a coach at the Marcus Foster Recreation Center in a poor neighborhood in Philadelphia. When he invites a group of teens to swim, he realizes he could make a team out of them.
8. Agua, Amazon (2006)
Agua is an Argentine and French drama film directed and written by Verónica Chen and Pablo Lago. The film follows the stories of two swimmers, Goyo and Chino, who are at pivotal points in their lives.
Goyo, a former open-water swimming champion, lives in isolation after being wrongly accused of doping. Chino, a dedicated pool swimmer with national team aspirations, faces constant setbacks. The movie blends competition footage and dramatizes scenes, highlighting the beauty of the sport and the athlete’s journey and dedication.
7. On a Clear Day, Prime Video (2005)
Another musical, this comedy-drama film stars Barbra Streisand and Yves Montand, directed by Vincente Minnelli. The film follows Frank, a 50-year-old who just lost his job at a Glasgow shipyard. He has few prospects and little hope in life.
A casual remark by a buddy inspires him to find a new purpose, which is to swim the English Channel. Accompanied by his closest friends, Frank set forth on a training regimen that will help him achieve his goal.
6. The Swimmers, Netflix (2022)
One of the best swimming movies, this Netflix biographical drama film is based on a true story. The film stars real-life sisters Nathalie Issa and Manal Issa, Ahmed Malek and more.
The plot follows the life of teenage Syrian refugees Yusra Mardini and her sister Sarah Mardini, who swam alongside a sinking dinghy of refugees to lighten it, and eventually help 18 refugees to reach safety across the Aegean Sea thanks to their champion swimming skills, all while being smuggled from Izmir towards Lesbos.
5. Welcome, Amazon (2009)
Welcome is a French film directed by Phillippe Lioret starring Vincent Lindon and tells the story of Bilal, a 17-year-old Kurdish boy from Iraq. The story follows him setting off on an adventure-filled journey across Europe.
However, his journey starts to take a turn when he realizes he needs to cross 32 kilometers of the English Channel but doesn’t know how to swim. The director wanted to highlight the plight of immigrants living in Calais, France and their plans to reach the United Kingdom.
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4. The Swimsuit Issue, Prime Video (2008)
Another comedy drama focusing on synchronized swimming, The Swimsuit Issue is a Swedish film directed by Måns Herngren. The story follows the wake of a wild bachelor party where Fredrik discovers his passion for synchronized swimming.
Convincing his floorball teammates to join him as Sweden’s only all-male team, they set their sights on the world championships. It’s a quirky film with a bunch of cliches, but that can really make it better.
3. Against the Current, Prime Video (2009)
Third on the list of the best swimming movies around, this is a drama film that was directed by Peter Callahan and stars Joseph Fiennes, Pell James, Justin Kirk, Martin Shakar and more. The story follows Paul Thompson, a writer who lost his wife and child a few years back and is struggling to get through it.
In order to help him move on and take back control of his life, he and his best friend finally start working on the one thing they’ve always wanted to do, swim the length of the Hudson River.
2. Bathing Beauty, Prime Video (1944)
Another musical romantic comedy, this one is directed by George Sideny starring Red Skelton and Esther Williams. And although Williams didn’t debut here, it was her first Technicolor musical. The film follows a contrived misunderstanding that leads to a breakup of a songwriter and his fiancée.
When she returns to work as a gym teacher at an all-girls school, the man finds a legal loophole to enlist as one of her students to try and get her back and is one of the best swimming movies.
1. The Swimmer, Prime Video (1968)
As the all-time best swimming movie, we have The Swimmer, an American surrealist drama starring Burt Lancaster. The film was directed and written by Eleanor Perry and Frank Perry and is based on the 1964 short story with the same name by John Cheever.
The film follows Neddy Merrill who has been away for most of the Summer. When he reappears at a friend’s pool, he talks about his story about jogging from pool to pool to swim across the whole valley and describes his interactions. It’s by far one of the best swimming movies that you can find. Even Lancaster believed this film to be his best and favorite film of his career.
Best Streaming Platform to Watch Swimming Movies
Unfortunately, swimming is not the most popular sport, which means there aren’t very many swimming movies. That being said, if you want to watch the bulk of them, you’ll need to grab and Amazon Prime membership, as most of them are on there. Only a few on the list of the best swimming movies are on other streaming platforms.
Prime Video Information
Amazon Prime is one of the best and most popular streaming platforms that people subscribe to because it provides so much more than just movies and shows, and it’s pretty affordable. For the monthly membership, you’ll only pay $14.99, unless you’re a student then it’s $7.49.
This membership gives you free delivery with two-day, one-day, same-day and even Grubhub delivery. It gives you movies, shows, music and even gaming, as well as any early deals.
Best Swimming TV Shows
Free!– This Japanese anime follows high school students on a swim team and their daily lives, as well as their personal dramas.
Baywatch– Set at a Los Angeles beach, a team of lifeguards led by LT Mitch Buchannon saves lives, deals with personal dramas, fights crime and participates in over-the-top adventures on a daily basis.
H20: Just Add Water– Follow the adventures of three girls who become mermaids after a mysterious island transforms them and gives them special powers.
Barracuda– Danny, a talented swimmer who dreams of winning gold at the Olympics, is given a sports scholarship to a prestigious Melbourne private school.
Best Swimming Movies for Kids
Finding Nemo– After his son is captured by the Great Barrier Reef and is taken to Sydney, a timid clownfish sets on a journey to bring him home.
Luca– On the Italian Riviera, an unlikely but strong friendship grows between a human being and a sea monster disguised as a human.
Moana– While there isn’t much swimming involved, mostly sailing, I still feel as though this counts. When a curse by a Demigod reaches Moana’s island, she must answer the ocean’s call to seek the Demigod out to set things right.
Swimming is known for being one of the best sports if you’re looking for a full body workout that can properly tone you. But even so, it’s not as popular of a sport as many others like football or basketball. Therefore, there are not that many swimming movies that you can find.
Thankfully, though, if you’re wanting to cool down with some great movies that will get you in the mood to do some laps, these are by far the best options. Whether you’re sore after dryland exercises or need to take a minute to get water out of your ears after a flip turn, these are the best views to check out before your intervals.
Streamline your experience by opting for a Prime Video membership, which has all the best movies right at your fins.
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