9 Motivating Movies to Watch During Swim Season


9 Motivating Movies to Watch During Swim Season

By Gigi Picard Swimming World College Intern

Swimmers have different ways to get pumped up for a meet or to stay motivated through the season. The go-to, pump-up music playlist is perhaps the most familiar, as we’ve all seen Michael Phelps and others focused with their headphones in the ready room. But, creating a movie playlist to binge during the season can also be part of a pump-up plan. 

The Missy Franklin film Touch the Wall pops right to the surface for many swimmers. But what about other out-of-pool movies that year-round swimmers can relate to?

Here are nine movies that offer important life lessons to help swimmers perform at their best.

For all of you who haven’t seen the movies, there may be several spoilers. 


This classic film is centered around an unknown Philadelphia boxer named Rocky “The Italian Stallion” Balboa who is unexpectedly given a chance to fight the World Heavyweight Champion Apollo Creed in a 15-round bout. Rocky is the decided underdog in this match and has to work hard  to stay in the ring with Creed. But when Rocky survives the 15 rounds, swimmers are reminded that even the biggest underdog has a chance if they only have a lane.

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse 

The main character, Miles, is adjusting to his new Spider-Man skills with the help of his fellow Spider-Men and Spider-Woman. Miles makes several mistakes along the way, and eventually gets left behind by the group. As a result, he ends up feeling down and upset. But, he changes his mindset and helps the group successfully defeat Kingpin. Relative to swimming, we have to keep a positive mentality to improve and to always have faith in ourselves. Also a song from the soundtrack titled “What’s Up Danger” is a great add to a pump-up playlist. 

The Hunger Games

Katniss Everdeen volunteers as tribute to replace her sister in a deadly competition. Her archery skills and overall toughness prove that she is a force to be reckoned with against all comers – including men. Swim fans of any gender see the same skill and tenacity in someone like Katie Ledecky. During one of Ledecky’s races, Rowdy Gaines said, “She doesn’t swim like a man. She swims like Katie Ledecky!” The lesson is simple: forget stereotypes, you can win as yourself.


Based on the true story of the 1980 United States men’s Olympic hockey team, this movie teaches that believing in yourself can make the impossible seem possible. During the training and competition that precedes the games, the team’s tough, demanding coach convinces the players that they can actually beat the USSR and win gold. In swimming, miracles do happen. 

Wayne’s World 

This comedy classic starring former Saturday Night Live actors Mike Meyers and Dana Carvey is a film filled with non-stop laughs and a classic sing-along to Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody. The film is meant to remind us that we can be dolphins on deck and to have fun during meets. 


Whether you’ve seen the movie or not, you know the terrifying theme: duuuunnnn duun… duuunnnnnnnn dun dun dun dun dun dun dun dun dun dun dunnnnnnnnnnn dunnnn. Despite the fact that the great white in this horror show is obliterated by Chief Brody, the lesson for swimmers remains clear, be a dolphin on deck, but a shark in the water. And maybe that you always need a bigger boat.


This film tells the tale of a 16-year-old Moana, an independently-minded princess, destined to be the next village chief. Moana follows her heart, swimming beyond the reef to find Maui to help return the heart of Te Fiti. After  several setbacks, Moana accomplishes her mission. In swimming, Moana reminds us, if we don’t do well in a meet or a practice set, we gotta flush the first round, down some water and keep grinding.

Monsters, Inc.

This is a fun and entertaining movie starring animated monsters James P. Sullivan (Sulley) and Mike Wazowski. The two of them are best friends who teach us that two are better than one and that laughter is far more powerful than screaming. Friends support each other through thick, thin and frigid, 6:00 am practices.  

Finding Nemo

Just keep swimming. Enough said. 

We all need some motivation, and these movies are ones that’ll get us through the year-round swim season. Maybe Black Panther is also a go-to movie. I’d love to hear what motivates you.


  1. Robert Coleman

    Chariots of Fire should be on this list!

  2. Arvel McElroy

    I’ve had mine watch Cool Runnings.

  3. avatar
    Angela Hatfield

    We Are Marshall
    Remember The Titans
    Eddie The Eagle

  4. avatar

    Touching The Wall