Josh Davis, Swim Stars Share Their Favorite Inspirational Movies

rocky - swimmer
Did you know that Rocky swam for his training in Rocky 3? His manager Mickey remarked to Apollo Creed, "He ain't no tuna."

We are bringing back this past Top Inspirational Movies list by five-time Olympic medalist Josh Davis, since it provides some great movie ideas for filling time at home. Obviously, with the Covid-19 pandemic and stay-at-home orders around the globe, there is additional time to watch a movie and, perhaps, feel inspired by its message.

In addition to the movie recommendations from Josh Davis, there are suggestions from some big names from the past.

Josh Davis’ favorite inspirational movies, counting down to the best one.

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 floorI 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 favorite inspirational movies 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.”

Michael 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 a lot 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 said, “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.

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