The 21 Best Documentaries About Swimming

Aug 2, 2023 | Best Of, Health, Sports

Do you ever find yourself daydreaming about being a master of the sea? Or maybe you just love to watch swimmers in action from the comfort of your own home? Well, here’s some good news: there is an array of amazing documentaries that have captured the beauty and power of swimming. From competitive athletes training for Olympic gold to everyday people overcoming physical barriers or life struggles, these 16 documentaries will leave you with a newfound appreciation for this remarkable sport. So grab some popcorn and dive into these inspiring stories!


1. Head Above Water (2021)

Swimming is not just a sport for these four Australian icons, it’s a way of life. Join Kyle Chalmers, Bronte Campbell, Ian Thorpe and Cody Simpson as they share their personal journeys and rise to the top of the Olympic swimming world in Head Above Water. Witness the sacrifices, triumphs and struggles that come with being an elite athlete, all while balancing fame, success and personal relationships.




2. Touch The Wall (2014)

Missy Franklin, an exceptional swimmer from a young age, found her path to greatness with the guidance of 2-time Olympian Kara Lynn Joyce. Their collaboration on Missy’s teenage team paved the way for her remarkable achievements and exceeded all expectations. Witness their journey in this captivating documentary.






3. Kim Swims (2018)

Daring and determined, she set out to conquer the treacherous waters off the San Francisco coast. The first woman to attempt such an undertaking, she faced frigid temperatures, rough currents and looming predators. This is the awe-inspiring tale of a fearless open water swimmer on her quest for greatness. 30 miles of uncharted territory, a journey that would test her physical and mental strength beyond measure.






4. Lane 0 (2023)

In this eye-opening documentary, we witness the determination and resilience of aspiring swimmers from all corners of the world. From war-torn nations to humble beginnings, these young athletes strive to make their mark in the Olympic pool. Through grit and perseverance, they push themselves beyond physical limitations and overcome obstacles on their journey towards greatness.






5. Swimming Upstream – Tony Fingleton Biopic (2004)

“Swimming Upstream” is a powerful film that chronicles the journey of a swimmer striving for Olympic glory. Through stunning performances by Geoffrey Rush and Judy Davis, this movie delves into the complexities of chasing one’s dreams and overcoming obstacles. A truly inspiring story that will leave you on the edge of your seat.







The Best Free Documentaries About Swimming


1. Open Water Swimming

Discover the fascinating world of open water swimming with Dr. Heather Massey at the NI Science Festival. Learn about some of the incredible challenges that come with swimming in cold and unpredictable conditions, as well as tips for how to stay safe while enjoying this unique sport. Get a glimpse into the science behind open water swimming and be inspired by Dr. Massey’s passion for this exhilarating activity!


2. The Fast and The Furious

At the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, two standout swimmers emerged with equally impressive accomplishments. One was Peter Baumann, an analytical individual medley and freestyle specialist who won two gold medals. The other was Scott Davis, a world-record breaking breaststroker whose life was tragically cut short when he was hit by a car after winning gold in the 200-meter breaststroke at the same Olympics. In this video we take a look at these remarkable athletes and their achievements.


3. The Marathon Swimming Challenge

Are you ready for the ultimate swimming challenge? Join us as we explore ‘The Ocean’s Seven’, a grueling marathon-swimming odyssey that pits athletes against some of the most dangerous and unpredictable waters in the world. From crossing Ireland’s wild North Channel to tackling Japan’s Tsugaru Strait, follow these intrepid swimmers as they take on this remarkable test of endurance. Get ready to experience nature at its most extreme!


4. Swimmer Shayna Jack’s fight against doping accusations

Swimmer Shayna Jack made headlines when she was accused of doping. Follow her story as she fights to clear her name and discover the emotional toll this has taken on her. Australian Story reveals how Shayna is dealing with the allegations and why it will always haunt her.


5. The Last Gold

Shirley Babashoff was one of the most successful swimmers of her time. She had a remarkable Olympic career, but many people do not know she was competing in an unfair environment. This video will tell you about East Germany’s state sponsored experimental doping program and how it affected Shirley’s Olympic glory. We will also discuss why Shirley has requested the IOC to award her several gold medals rather than silver, due to overwhelming evidence that widespread cheating took place during those Olympics.


6. The Science of Diana Nyad’s Swim

On August 31st, 2013, Diana Nyad set out to accomplish something that had never been done before – swimming from Cuba to Florida without a shark cage! Follow her incredible journey as she braves the open waters and challenges herself to reach Key West in record time. Watch this amazing story of courage and determination unfold!


7. Secrets Of The Roman Baths

Welcome to the History Hit YouTube channel! Join Alice Loxton as she takes you on a tour of one of Britain’s most fascinating Roman sites, the Roman baths in Bath. Explore everything from ancient curses and sacrificial altars to trendy hairstyles and botched jobs – all without having to worry about boring Latin lessons. Plus, see where our ancestors went wrong with typos that got them into hot water. Get ready for an exciting journey through history with Alice!


8. Blood and Water

Garrett Delaney was born to be an Olympic diver, but a near-death accident in practice shakes his faith. With only two weeks until the Olympics, he must decide if giving up is the right choice or if he should take a risk and fight for his dream. “Blood and Water” features 2016 Olympic silver medalist Steele Johnson lending a gritty authenticity that will have you on the edge of your seat!Inspired by director Brian Blum’s own experience as a competitive diver after suffering an injury from a springboard dive, this story takes us through Garrett’s journey of courage and resilience as he faces one of life’s biggest decisions – to give up or die trying.


9. Wild Swimming with Alice Roberts

Join Alice Roberts on a journey to uncover the hidden joys of wild swimming in Britain. From following Roger Deakin’s classic Waterlog text, to exploring the growing popularity of this activity – get ready for an adventure! Along the way, Alice will share her insight and experience into why so many people have become passionate about wild swimming.


10. Aged to Perfection

Jaring Timmerman is an incredible man. Despite being over 100 years old, he has never let age slow him down. He continues to swim competitively and break world records! Follow his journey as we combine archival footage, dramatic recreations and his own experiences into one inspirational documentary. Get ready to be amazed by Jaring’s determination and drive!


11. Legend of Atlantis

Uncover the mysteries of what lies beneath our oceans! From ancient civilizations to fabled cities, this video uses cutting-edge graphics and expert insight from top marine archaeologists to uncover evidence that has been lost for centuries. Join us as we explore these intriguing secrets and search for the answers hidden deep in the depths of our oceans.


12. Swimming the Danube River

Join us on an incredible adventure with Avram Iancu, a librarian from Romania whose dream was to swim the entire length of the Danube river in Europe. See how his determination overcomes dramatic moments as he braves cold and clear waters, stumps, barges, storms and more! As he meets fellow Romanian immigrants at Linz, experience the powerful emotions that accompany this journey. Follow him through three months of physical and psychological struggle as he pushes his limits to reach the Black Sea. This is a story about overcoming obstacles and proving that we can all fight our own boundaries if we set our minds to it!


13. Legends Live On

The Sydney Olympics was a special event for Australia, and no one made it more memorable than Ian Thorpe. The five-time Olympic Champion is one of the greatest swimmers ever, but his career wasn’t without its struggles. After leaving the sport, he had to overcome depression before inspiring others with his story. Follow this video to learn all about this Australian legend’s incredible journey!


14. Swimming with Wild Orcas in Norway

Ever wondered what it’s like to swim with wild orcas in Norway? Now you can find out! In this incredible video, we take you on an eye-opening journey as we explore the depths of the ocean and encounter these majestic creatures up close. Join us for a once-in-a-lifetime experience that will leave you speechless – swimming with wild orcas in Norway!


15. Swimming with the World’s Deadliest Shark

Are you ready to take on the world’s most dangerous shark? Join us as we dive deep into the depths of our ocean and come face-to-face with one of nature’s fiercest predators. From learning about the anatomy and behavior of this species, to witnessing up close encounters with them in their natural environment, get an inside look at what it takes to survive swimming with the deadliest sharks in the world!



Do you have what it takes to win gold? In this video, we follow the journey of some of the world’s top swimmers as they strive for Olympic glory. From grueling training sessions to intense competitions, find out what it takes to become a champion in this inspiring documentary about swimming for gold.


Read On – Our Latest Top Documentaries Lists

David B