This Swimming Movie Should Have Been Better: Swim Fan

Last week, when I wrote about the fact that Tanica Jamison (among others) should be mentioned when we discuss potential hires at "big" jobs, I was reminded of another,  mostly unrelated thing.

Jamison was one of the swimming stars of her day to appear in the 2006 Ashton Kutcher/Kevin Costner film "The Guardian". Like most "swimming" movies, it was not very good, nor in this case was there that much about swimming, although there is a memorable scene with Kutcher beating Costner's 500 free record:

There in the first few seconds is Jamison, doing those scissor kicks right next to Kutcher. Mark Gangloff is in the movie as well. 

But this post is not about the Guardian, a movie that I thoroughly enjoyed despite it not being very good. The moviemakers actually made a really good effort of featuring swimming in the movie, and paying the nominally small amount of money it took to have some people who could actually swim fast do some swimming on camera. 

This post is about one of the handful of really awful feature films that have been "Swimming" movies. These are the movies that swim nerds like myself got super excited about it, then brutally disappointed when we witnessed the finished product. Maybe we even experienced a period of denial where we tried to pretend these movies were "good". 

First up? 

Swim Fan

Watch the trailer for this thing, and make sure you're sitting down first:

Transport yourself back to an era when Disturbed "Stupify" was popular music. I was in college when this movie came out, and I remember my entire college swim team on training trip renting the movie at our hotel to watch it.

The plot of the movie is essentially "Fatal Attraction" with swimming and a C-List cast of actors in their early 20s portraying high school kids. 

But enough about the plot. Even the trailer shows off some pretty convincing looking competitive swimming, and like the Guardian they clearly got some real swimmers in as body doubles for swimming scenes. Sadly, however, that is where the devotion to swimming reality ends with this film.

Just your average high school 1:32 200 freestyler

One of the first scenes of the movie features the star, Ben Cronin, having a chat with his coach. His coach asks "did you swim this morning", to which even my 19 year old self asked "yeah, wouldn't you have been there coach??". But I digress.

Ben responds that he did. His coach asks "What were you holding for the 100s?"

Ben's reply "50 plus for the 1:30...I can get it under :45, I think"

Under :45? So this kid is in high school and casually suggests he can "hold" 44 seconds per 100 (with a interval of 1:30) at morning practice? 

If that's true, it suggests that Ben Cronin was basically college Caeleb Dressel, just in high school and 16 years ago. Shoot, how many sub :45s could Caeleb Dressel hold in a row with only roughly the same amount of time to rest?

But also a minor quibble, as a coach. You were only holding "50 plus" when you're capable of sub :45? What're you holding back for? That's not how you get better Ben Cronin!

Thats not how taper works

The conversation continues to fly off the rails after that. Ben's coach informs him that Stanford is visiting in eight days, and that "for the next eight days, I want you living in that pool". Which sounds like a way to make sure that Ben swims very unimpressively for the Stanford scouts. 

Brief kudo: Stanford was in a run of basically finishing in the top three most years at NCAAs, so its fairly realistic that a super fast kid from NJ would be interested in going there.

Why Is it So Dark?

The swimming scenes are very much frontloaded to fool you into how much swimming there is in this movie. Also, weirdly, it is incredibly dark in the pool for most of the swim action. 

When Ben finally steps up to swim for the Stanford "scouts" (I forgot to mention this innaccuracy), he is stopped by his coach, who tells him he has tested positive for "anabolic steroids".

So apparently the random NJ high school Ben Cronin swims for has random drug testing for performance enhancing drugs, the results of which dramatically arrive during the course of a swim meet?

The Final Insult

Spoiler alert!

The movie culminates with Ben using his elite swimming skills to save his girlfriend Amy from murderous Madison by swimming to the bottom of the really dark pool to free her from being handcuffed to a chair.

After this heroic act, and which should probably have resulted in some deep trauma for both Ben and Amy, he is shown in the next scene enviously watching his buddy win a swimming race, then briefly driving around in his car with Amy like everything is cool again. Then credits!

Other stuff

Oh yeah, there's a scene where Ben Cronin finds a dead body of one of his teammates in the really dark pool:


Despite the massive problems caused by all the people swimming unsupervised in the catacombs, everyone continues to have open access to the facility at any time.


Someone please turn on the lights and hire a lifeguard. PLEASE.

Swimfan- you can rent it for 2.99. But I don't recommend you do.