Chariots of Fire
Courtesy of: Warner Bros.
Commentary by Josh Davis

EDMOND, Oklahoma, December 17. AS I sit for lunch and eat Thanskgiving leftovers for the upteenth time, I was thinking about my holiday goals -- and movies. I did get in a few swims, but was only able to get in two movies with my kids at the big theater this last weekend (Frozen & Catching Fire), two short of my goal. At home I was able to fit in another one-and-a-half movies between getting ready for relatives and the big Thanksgiving meal.

Maybe you're like me and found yourself wanting to escape the pressures and pace of the holidays and relax into a good movie, but I would like to emphasize "good." I love movies, but with five kids and my wife and I directing the Mutual of Omaha Breakout Swim Clinic tour, we don't have a lot of time to enjoy them. For the movies we do watch, I do my best to research, preview and pick ones that have redeeming qualities. I'm a big believer in "G.I.G.O.", or "Garbage In...Garbage Out," so I am super picky and try to avoid unnecessary violence, language and skin.


But with the Christmas break coming up soon -- when we sleep, swim, eat, watch movies, repeat -- I thought it would be fun to recommend your favorite inspirational movies. What movies inspire you, have a good moral to the story, make you want to train and reach your goals, make you want to be a better teammate and person? I narrowed mine down to seven, but you can list as few or as many as you want up to seven. If you have time, you could include your favorite line from that movie. Maybe someone can recommend some movies that we didn't know about.

Of course, don't ever compromise your sleeping, reading, eating and swimming for a movie, but hopefully this will help us have more relaxing and inspiring Christmas training. Sometimes a good movie is just the thing to fuel the emotional tank to get ready for the next crazy Christmas practice.

Here are my favorites, counting down to the best one. What's yours?

7. Breaking Away (1979)
Mom says to Dad, "What's the matter?"
Dad answers, "He's shavin'."
Mom: "Well...so what?"
Dad: "...his legs."
Came across this other day on cable after not seeing it for about 20 years. I think it is a classic like Hoosiers or Facing the Giants.

6. The Quiet Man (1952) with John Wayne
"There'll be no locks or bolts between us, Mary Kate...except those in your own mercenary little heart." -- John Wayne to Maureen O'Hara. John and Maureen are at their best in this classic and so fun to watch -- and the Irish accents are a hoot.

5. Superman (1978 and 2013)
2013 - "You are my son, but somewhere out there you have another father, and he sent you here for a reason. And even if it takes you the rest of your life, you owe it to yourself to find out what that reason is."
"One day, you're going to have to make a choice. You have to decide what kind of man you want to grow up to be. Whoever that man is, good character or bad, it's going to change the world." -- Jonathan Kent to young Superman
I was a Superman freak as a kid and thought Christopher Reeve was the standard. The new Henry Cavill version is very satisfying.

4. It's a Wonderful Life (1946) and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939) with Jimmy Stewart
"Strange, isn't it? Each man's life touches so many other lives. When he isn't around he leaves an awful hole, doesn't he?" -- Clarence the angel to George Bailey
"You think I'm licked...Well, I'm not licked. And I'm going to stay right here and fight for this lost cause...they are the ones worth fighting for...the only reason any man every fights for them; because of just one plain simple rule: 'Love thy neighbor'...." -- Jefferson Smith on the Senate floor
I have to watch these by myself because I cry randomly throughout each movie.

3. Rocky 1-4
"You're gonna eat lightnin'; you're gonna crap thunder." -- Mickey the trainer to Rocky during training montage of Rocky II (1979)
So many great quotes it's hard to pick one. I have a Rocky movie marathon at least once a year.

2. Rudy (1993)
"I rode the bench for two years. Thought I wasn't being played because of my color, I got filled up with a lotta attitude. So I quit. Still not a week goes by I don't regret it. And I guarantee a week won't go by in your life you won't regret walking out, letting them get the best of ya. You hear me clear enough?" -- Fortune the stadium manager to Rudy Ruettiger
I don't know if it's that I come from a large Irish Catholic family that loves Notre Dame, or that every swimmer knows what it's like to work for years toward a goal. But I usually have to watch this one with tissues by myself, too.

1. Chariots of Fire (1981)
"God made me for China, but he also made me fast. And when I run I feels God's pleasure." -- Eric Liddell explaining to his sister his goal of the 1924 Olympics. The one movie I never get tired watching. The dialogue, the scenes, the emotion of training and racing in the Games. Totally worthy of the Best Picture Academy Award in 1981.

Here's some favorites from members of Team USA:

Christine Magnuson loves Remember the Titans and Miracle. She says about Miracle: "We used to watch them on the way to meets and get pumped up. And when Brooks blows that whistle over and over again, you don't feel as bad about your holiday training."

Mike McBroom, Ricky Berens and Kristy Kowal like Miracle as well. Kristy sums it up: "Ohhhh!! Miracle on Ice! Bawled my eyes out during that movie!"

"Great moments... are born from great opportunity. And that's what you have here, tonight, boys. That's what you've earned here tonight. One game. If we played 'em ten times, they might win nine. But not this game. Not tonight." -- Herb Brooks in Miracle

And my other favorite quote:

"When you pull on that jersey, you represent yourself and your teammates. And the name on the front is a h*** of alot more important than the one on the back."


Chloe Sutton's favorite is Facing the Giants.

Annie Grevers said, "I loved watching Without Limits before a big meet or during training. It's a film documenting Steve Prefontaine's quest to be the best. 'To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift.' Prefontaine refused to hold back, and being the training masochist I was, his drive inspired me."

Kim Vandenberg says, "My favorite inspirational movie is Braveheart. I love the quote by William Wallace, '...every man dies, but not every man really lives.'"

Here's some from Matt McLean: Zero Dark Thirty, Rocky IV, The Dark Knight Trilogy

And a few from Michael Andrew: Courageous, Fireproof, Secretariat, The Blind Side, Pride

What's yours?

Josh Davis is a two-time Olympian with five Olympic medals, three of which are gold. He formerly held the American record in the 200-meter freestyle.