Men Who Swim

Opening scene from Men Who Swim documentary
Opening scene from Men Who Swim documentary

After tonight’s Swedish class, and then catching up mates at the pub, I came HOME and watched documentary on ABC2 called, “Men Who Swim”, about a Swedish male synchronised swimming team. Or as the Swedes call it, “konstsim” (art swimming) which I think I prefer to the English-language phrase. One sounds very perfunctory, very organised, whereas the other sounds far more exotic, far more experimental.

I’d already seen the film, Allt Flyter a fictional account of this group just over twelve months ago.

At the time I noted…

There were shades of The Full Monty in the film’s premise, about a group of middle aged men who try something adventurous and new. In this instance, they formed a team to compete at the world synchronised swimming championships. In the background, the film also explores the relationships between the lead, Frederic, his daughter, his ex-wife, and his friend Charles. The film has a “feel good” vibe about it, though, as Graeme noted is often the case with Swedish comedies, it’s not all light and bright.

Tonight’s documentary also had a dark element to it: the sometimes difficult experiences of people who move to Sweden, and even though they speak quite good English, still find it difficult to find work and to fully integrate.

In this case, the film was told from the perspective of someone who was apparently a reasonably successful film-maker in the UK, but who struggled to find similar satisfying work in Sweden.

Not only do you need to learn Swedish, but you also need to join a group was the advice he was offered, and which he mentioned early in the film. And that’s how he became part of the male synchronised swimming team.

The film tells of their disorganisation, and often their lack of motivation, and explores group dynamics from the perspective of a group of men on the verge of middle-aged. They haven’t quite given away the desires and fantasies of youth, but haven’t quite settled down for a life in front of the television yet either. I find myself in a similar position, and so I could relate to both their desires to keep trying something new, and the headspace that requires.

It was a lovely documentary and I enjoyed it very much.

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