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Sports Shows and Sports Documentary programs are trending.

The Sports Documentary is a the a sub-genre of documentary films that focus on sports. These documentaries can cover a wide range of topics such as the history of a sport, the life of an athlete, or a specific event in sports.

There are a few sports documentary titles produced about swimming and none, yet, on the full gambit of aquatics nor learning to swim.

New

Air, about the Nike and Michael Jordan, (2023)

100 days to Indy, Indy-car racing, TV series in 2023


Past

Sports Documentaries about swimming

Pride (Swimming, Movie, 2007)

The movie is based on the true story of Philadelphia swim coach James “Jim” Ellis and stars Terrence Howard, Bernie Mac, and Kimberly Elise. Bernie Mac plays the role of Elston, a janitor who helps Jim Ellis fix up an abandoned pool building.

Swimming Upstream

It reveals an intense dysfunctional psycho drama behind the competitive sport. It is as moving about a macho male athletic culture, here focused on swimming, as Friday Night Lights was about football, particularly as difunctionally fueled by alcohol.

Dangerous When Wet, 1953

American live-action/animated musical comedy film starring Esther Williams, Fernando Lamas and Jack Carson, featuring an animated swimming sequence starring Williams with the cat-and-mouse duo Tom and Jerry. The movie is about Katie Higgins who swims her way from the Arkansas Ozarks to foggy London and the English Channel with her promoter-trainer and family in tow.

The Ultimate Waterman (Various Water Sports)

100-Foot Wave (Surfing)

The Ultimate Surfer (Surfing)

Baywatch (Beach Lifeguards, TV & Movie)

Piha Rescue (reality series following the daily actions of the Piha Surf Life Saving Club lifeguards)

Piha surf beach is one of the country's most popular beaches and it is located on the North Island West Coast near Auckland.

Against the Tides, (film, open water, marathon swimming)

See: https://s6.cloh.org/against-the-tides-an-attempt-at-the-oceans-7-in-a-single-year/

Splash, (Lifesaving Super Hero, animation, 2021)

See https://s6.cloh.org/splash-lifesaving-super-hero-animation/


Other Treasures about other activities

The Queens Gambit (Chess, a Netflix mini series)

All or Nothing: Manchester City (European professional football, Amazon Prime Video)

From 2018, Etihad Stadium.

Point Break (Professional Tennis)


Sports Documentaries football 

High school

Friday Night Lights (2006-2012)

Follows the trials and tribulations of a Texas high school football team. Produced by Jason Katims and aired on TV.

Quip 

See https://s6.cloh.org/quip-a-documentary-about-a-river-town-with-a-sports-culture-that-is-second-to-none/

All American (high school and college football)

Follows a high school football player from South Los Angeles who is recruited to play for Beverly Hills High School. Produced by April Blair and aired from 2018 to present.


Professional

Hard Knocks (focused team(s) in NFL training camp, and now also in-season) 


TV Shows, Coaching

Ted Lasso (Coaching, UK football, Apple TV+)

Sports comedy-drama TV series.

Coach (Coaching college football, 1989-1997)

Network tv sitcom.

Big Shot (Basketball, Disney Plus, 2021)

Big Shot is an American sports comedy-drama television series created by David E. Kelley, Dean Lorey and Brad Garrett for Disney+ starring John Stamos, Jessalyn Gilsig, and Yvette Nicole Brown1. The series follows Marvyn Korn (John Stamos) after he is ousted from his position as head coach for an NCAA basketball team. He must take a job at Westbrook School for Girls, a private all-girls high school, in an effort to redeem what’s left of his career and reputation. The show premiered on April 16, 2021 and has been renewed for a second season which premiered on October 12, 2022.


The White Shadow (1978-1981)

The Game (2006-2015)

Playmakers (2003)

Ballers (Football)

Varsity Blues (1999-2000)

Arli$$ (1996-2002)

Necessary Roughness (2011-2013)

The Bronx Is Burning (2007)

Hardball (1994-1995)

The Comeback (2005)

The League (2009-2015)

Bay City Blues (1983)


Youth Sports - Baseball

The Bad News Bears (1979-1980)

The Game of Their Lives (2005)

The Great White Hype (1996)


Hockey, Youth Sports

The Mighty Ducks (1996-1997)

The White Shadow (1978-1981)

The Big Green (1995)

The Cutting Edge (1992-1994)

The Challenge 

Last Chance U (College Football)

The Ultimate Fighter

The Big Break (Golf)

The Ultimate Fighter (Mixed Martial Arts)

The Contender (Boxing)

Tin Cup (Golf)

The Break (Golf, Netflix)

Pre (Track, movie)


Sports News Features

30 for 30 (ESPN)

Home Game (Netflix) 

Shows freediving in the Philippines as one of the extreme sports from around the world. The series’s eight episodes each explore a different sport including Scotland’s Highland Games, and Roller Derby in the USA.

Reality TV

American Ninja Warrior (Obstacle Course Racing)

The Challenge (Various Sports)

The Amazing Race (various travel activities, reality TV)

The Bachelorette

The Biggest Loser (Weight Loss)

The X Games (Extreme Sports)

The World Series of Poker (Poker)

The World’s Strongest Man (Strength Sports)

The World’s Toughest Mudder (Obstacle Course Racing)

The Shop (HBO)

The Boardroom (ESPN)

The Match (TNT)

The Challenge (MTV)

Being Serena (HBO)

The Real MVP: The Wanda Durant Story (ESPN)

I Am Giant: Victor Cruz (Showtime)

The White Shadow

One Tree Hill (Basketball, 2003 to 2012)

TV drama series, produced by Mark Schwahn and aired from 2003 to 2012.

The Game (Football as backdrop, social media, CW, then BET, Paramont+)

TV drama, produced by Mara Brock Akil and aired from 2006 to 2015.

Saved by the Bell

Produced by Peter Engel and aired from 1989 to 1992.

Blue Mountain State (football)

Eastbound & Down (baseball)

GLOW (Ladies wrestling in 80s, Netflix)

Three seasons, women's empowerment.

Hit the Floor (basketball)

Kingdom (MMA)

Pitch (baseball)

The White Shadow (basketball)

The Last Dance - (NBA Basketball, United Center, Chicago, 2020, ESPN)

Drive to Survive (Formula 1)

Various locations (2019 to present)

Cheer - Navarro College, Texas (2020)

The Test: A New Era for Australia’s Team (2020)

Sunderland 'Til I Die - Stadium of Light, Sunderland (UK Football, 2018-2021)

The Playbook - Various locations (2020)

The English Game - Various locations (2020)

The Least Expected Day: Inside the Movistar Team 2019 (Cycling, 2022)

Losers - Various locations (2019)

Maradona in Mexico - Culiacán, Sinaloa (2019)

The Battered Bastards of Baseball - Civic Stadium, Portland (2014)

Being Serena - Various locations (2018)

Icarus - Various locations (2017)

The Armstrong Lie - (Cycling, 2013)

Senna - (Tennis, Various locations, 2010)

Hoop Dreams - Chicago, Illinois (1994)

When We Were Kings - Kinshasa, Zaire (1996)

O.J.: Made in America - Various locations (2016)


Mountain climbing, rock climbing and mountaineering:

The Dawn Wall - Yosemite National Park, California (2017)

Touching the Void - Siula Grande, Peru (2003)

Meru - Meru Peak, India (2015)

Torn - Various locations (2022)

14 Peaks: Nothing Is Impossible - Various locations (2021)

The Alpinist - Various locations (2021)

Mountain - Various locations (2017)

The Summit - K2, Pakistan (2012)

Sherpa - Mount Everest, Nepal (2015)



Scuba and freediving

Sea Hunt (Scuba, 1958 to 1961)

Old TV show about scuba diving is called “Sea Hunt”. It aired in syndication from 1958 to 1961 and was popular for decades afterwards. The series originally aired for four seasons, with 155 episodes produced. It stars Lloyd Bridges as former Navy diver Mike Nelson, and was produced by Ivan Tors

Open Water (2003)

The Abyss (1989)

Le Grand Blue – The Big Blue (1988)

Diving into the Unknown (2015)

Chasing Coral (2017)

Deepsea Challenge 3D (2014)

Experience the Underwater World Through the Eyes of a Free Diver (2019)

Touch the Wall (Swimming, 2014)

Documentary follows two Olympic swimmers, Missy Franklin and Kara Lynn Joyce, as they prepare for the 2012 London Olympics. The film explores their friendship and rivalry as they train together under coach Todd Schmitz.

The Last Gold (Swimming, 2016)

Documentary tells the story of the 1976 U.S. women’s Olympic swim team and their quest for gold. The team was led by coach Richard Quick and featured swimmers like Shirley Babashoff and Jill Sterkel.

Swim Team (Swimming, 2016)

Documentary follows a competitive swim team made up of teenagers with autism. The film explores how swimming helps these young people build confidence and social skills.

The Water Is My Sky (Swimming, 2015)

Documentary tells the story of synchronized swimming through the eyes of three athletes: Mariya Koroleva, Alison Williams, and Caitlin Klauer. The film explores the physical and emotional demands of this sport.

The Black Line (Swimming, 2019)

Documentary explores the history of segregation in swimming and how it has affected Black swimmers. The film features interviews with swimmers like Cullen Jones and Simone Manuel.

Swim for Your Life (Swimming, 2012)

Documentary tells the story of Jeff Farrell, an Olympic swimmer who was diagnosed with cancer in 1961. The film explores how Farrell overcame his illness to compete in the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.

The Water Diviner (2014)

This movie tells the story of an Australian man who travels to Turkey after World War I to find his three sons who went missing in action. The film features a scene where the main character swims across the Dardanelles.

Swim Little Fish Swim (2013)

This movie tells the story of a young French artist named Leeward who falls in love with a New York City nurse named Mary. The film explores their relationship and Leeward’s passion for music.

The Swimmer (1968)

This movie tells the story of a man named Ned Merrill who decides to swim across all the pools in his affluent Connecticut neighborhood. The film explores themes of suburban ennui and existentialism.

The Million Dollar Mermaid (1952)

This movie tells the story of Annette Kellerman, an Australian swimmer who became famous for her performances in a glass tank at the New York Hippodrome. The film stars Esther Williams as Kellerman.

The Swimsuit Issue (2008): This movie tells the story of a group of middle-aged men who decide to form a synchronized swimming team. The film explores themes of masculinity and friendship.

The Pool (2018)

This movie tells the story of Venkatesh, a young man from a small Indian village who dreams of building his own swimming pool. The film explores themes of social class and ambition.

The Swimmer (Marathon Swimming, 2014)

This documentary tells the story of Diana Nyad, an American long-distance swimmer who became the first person to swim from Cuba to Florida without a shark cage at the age of 64.


Swim Team (2016): This documentary follows a competitive swim team made up of teenagers with autism. The film explores how swimming helps these young people build confidence and social skills.

The Water Is My Sky (2015): This documentary tells the story of synchronized swimming through the eyes of three athletes: Mariya Koroleva, Alison Williams, and Caitlin Klauer. The film explores the physical and emotional demands of this sport.

The Last Kilometer (Cycling, some swim scene, 2012)

This documentary tells the story of Italian cyclist Marco Pantani and his rise to fame in the late 1990s. The film features footage of Pantani swimming in his pool.

Swimming with Men (2018, film)

British sports comedy-drama film starring Rob Brydon, Jane Horrocks, Rupert Graves, Daniel Mays, Thomas Turgoose, Jim Carter, Adeel Akhtar and Charlotte Riley. The movie tells the story of a man who is suffering a mid-life crisis and finds new meaning in his life as part of an all-male, middle-aged, amateur synchronized swimming team.

Water Polo: Beneath the Surface

It was shot over an 8 year period in Europe, Asia, Australia, the Caribbean and the United States and features comments from the best coaches and players in the world including those who competed in the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, USA, the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Australia, and the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Greece1. The documentary shows exciting action in the pool both above and below the water. The story illustrates in depth the grueling mental and physical stamina necessary to prevail while swimming up to 2 – 3 miles per game amidst fierce fighting and wrestling for position in water well over their heads1.

Cap Up: A Water Polo Story (High School)

 The story of the Harvard-Westlake School’s water polo team as they prepare for the Junior Olympics.

Freedom’s Fury (Water Polo, International)

Documentary on the 1956 Olympic semifinal water polo match between Hungary and Russia. Held in Australia, the match occurred as Russian forces were in Budapest, stomping out a popular revolt.

Moneyball (MLB Baseball)

The Blind Side (Football)

Remember The Titans (Football)

Sports Night (Broadcasting, ABC)


Brockmire (Baseball broadcasting, IFC Films)

Sitcom that premiered on April 5, 2017 on IFC. The show stars Hank Azaria, Amanda Peet, and Tyrel Jackson Williams, with J. K. Simmons guest starring in the third season. Azaria plays a baseball play-by-play announcer based on a character he created for a comedy web series in 2010. The show follows Jim Brockmire, "a famous Major League Baseball announcer who suffers an embarrassing public meltdown on the air after discovering his wife’s serial infidelity. A decade later, he tries to reclaim his career and love life in a small town, calling minor league ball for the Morristown, Pennsylvania Frackers.

Pitch (Women's Baseball, Fox, 2016)

Drama television series created by Dan Fogelman and Rick Singer that aired on Fox from September 22 to December 8, 2016. The series follows Ginny Baker (Kylie Bunbury), the first female Major League Baseball pitcher. When this gifted rookie is called up by the San Diego Padres, Ginny must prove herself to her teammates. She and captain/All-Star catcher Mike Lawson (Mark-Paul Gosselaar) are loath to admit their chemistry. Fox canceled the series after one season.

The English Game (Netflix, 2020)

A British historical sports drama television miniseries developed by Julian Fellowes for Netflix about the origins of modern association football in England. The six-part series was released on March 20, 2020 and stars Edward Holcroft (Kingsman), Fergus Suter (Fantastic Beasts), and Charlotte Hope (The Spanish Princess). The show follows two 19th-century footballers on opposite sides of a class divide navigate professional and personal turmoil to change the game — and England — forever.

Networks

It’s just Max now. Warner Bros. Discovery confirmed it’s combining HBO Max and Discovery+ into one mega streamer called simply Max. The company also announced some of what the new service will offer, including a Harry Potter series, a new Game of Thrones prequel, and DC Comics content. The single-named service has some catching up to do: Netflix gets five times as many monthly viewers as HBO Max, according to Bloomberg.

Not Sports

Dance Moms (Lifetime, 2011 for 8 seasons)

Reality TV show about young dancers and their moms and teacher.

Glee (2009-2015)

TV series on high school singing, produced by Ryan Murphy and aired from 2009 to 2015.

Swim Little Fish Swim (2013)

This movie tells the story of a young French artist named Leeward who falls in love with a New York City nurse named Mary. The film explores their relationship and Leeward’s passion for music.

About the author 

Mark Rauterkus

Insert YOUR comments in the box at the bottom of this -- and all the other pages. Questions. Insights. re-writes, whatever.

Swim, water polo and SKWIM coach in Pittsburgh, PA, USA. Also the webmaster for the International Swim Coaches Association.

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