Men Who Swim Splashes Onto Independent Lens Tuesday, January 4
A man is approaching 40. He is a stranger in a strange land. His career aspirations and reality diverge. What should he do? How about something completely different? Filmmaker Dylan Williams chronicles his own experiences in Men Who Swim a documentary about all-male synchronized swimming.
When Williams moved to Sweden, his language teacher suggested that he join a club. He heard about a new men’s swim team, and signed up. The men are from diverse backgrounds—a meat buyer, a train driver, a potter, a teacher, and so on—and all are suffering mid-life crises. They can all swim but, as their first coach discovered, they couldn’t float. According to Williams, “Synchronized swimming Swedish style is easier said than done.” (I don’t know—try saying it three times fast).
The men named their team the “Stockholm Art Swim Gents,” and they are seen practicing, bickering, and performing in this documentary that also follows Williams' difficult times and introduces some of the team members and their pasts (including a rock star). They didn’t realize there were other all-male synchronized swim teams until they heard about the World Cup competition in Milan. Their volunteer coach (a journalist) stepped down, and the Gents hired a professional coach. They went from sloppy practice sessions to working hard, perfecting a routine for the World Cup. In Milan they competed against international teams, including Holland, Germany, Japan, Bulgaria, and Italy. Men Who Swim follows the team from the start of the competition to the finish. They expected to place last; did they?
Men Who Swim will premiere Tuesday, January 4, 2011, on PBS’s Independent Lens, an anthology series focusing on documentaries (although a few fiction films are shown). It’s the story of disillusioned men who have lived the first half of their lives, and aren’t sure what the second half will hold. Working together, sometimes reluctantly, they find a purpose and a goal which unite them and bring them a sense of accomplishment. They ultimately learn “that this milestone is all about discovering that you already have everything you ever wanted.”
Entertaining and inspiring, Men Who Swim is also humorous, campy, and fascinating. It is the story of friendship, love, family, competition, and coming to terms with one’s life—if that’s even possible.