The average member of the general public may not know much about figure skating, but they do know one thing: figure skating is overwhelmingly populated by females. We frequently hear stories of women who are flourishing in male dominated sports such as boxing, or in the business world, but rarely do we hear about males in female-dominated sports.
Purely by accident, I came across a great indie film recently. I think adult figure skaters, and especially the gentlemen, will enjoy watching it. The film is called “Men Who Swim.”
“Men Who Swim” is a humorous and poignant look at a group of middle-aged men who have found unlikely success as members of Sweden’s all-male synchronized swimming team. What begins as a weekly escape from the daily grind of work and family responsibilities gradually evolves into a more serious commitment. Inspired by Esther Williams’s techniques from the 1950s, these train engineers and meat buyers, archivists and teachers, soon become passionate exponents of a sport generally associated with women.
After initially believing that they are the only all-male team in the world, they’re surprised to discover that other countries also have teams: including Japan, Ukraine, Holland, France, Germany, Czech Republic, Italy, and Spain. For the first time, there is even going to be an unofficial All Male World Championship in the sport.”
Adult figure skaters will be able to relate to many of the film’s themes. One unemployed fellow is concerned that he won’t be able to afford to go to the world championships, but at the last minute he is offered a job. Another member starts dating the coach and ends up finding a life partner! As in adult figure skating, they occasionally do wonder why they are doing this and (like in synchronized skating) grow to love the camaraderie (and squabbles) of working hard as a team towards a goal.
The team finally does make it to Milan for the World Championships and are immediately overtaken by group self-doubt. It is something that seems to inevitably happen to any adult figure skater at their first competition… “What am I doing here?? Everyone’s so much better than me… I’m going to look like a complete fool!!”
By the end of this film, you will be cheering for all of the teams. From what I could see of the stands, there was a sell-out crowd cheering for them!
Have you ever faced discrimination as male figure skater or as an adult figure skater? Please Comment!