What's it about?

Cheering on Teammates

Cheering on Teammates

I’ve been talking to a lot of people (anyone who will listen) about my documentary film exploring the rec swimming community in Contra Costa County. The folks who understand my idea immediately are the “alumni” - rec swimmers themselves who are now adults. They appreciate the impact swimming had on their lives and are incredibly enthusiastic about this project.

For parents and kids in the moment, going to practice and meets may be just what they do in the summer. If you are a kid, swimming represents fun with friends. For parents, it’s a big commitment - getting your kid(s) to the pool 6 days a week, signing up to be a timer or running the snack shack for multiple events. But because of that, it’s also a more social environment than most other sports.

The alumni, though, see the bigger picture. You hear the passion in their voices when they talk about the friendships formed, the lessons learned and even how it led to career opportunities they never imagined. You read that right. Career opportunities. Outside the swimming world.

Those are the themes I want to explore in this film.

Last night, I went to the season opening party at the Indian Valley Swim Club. Even though it’s always a little chilly in May when the sun goes down, as a parent I look forward to reconnecting with the friends I don’t see much between September and April. As I shared my ambition to make this film, some parents immediately saw the vision I have in my head. Some asked about logistics. Others asked the most important question, what are the stories?

To make a documentary that people will want to watch, there must be characters whose journey we are interested in. I hope to follow 4 or 5 kids through a season as they build their skills but at the same time soak up all the beneficial side effects. Discipline, friendship, teamwork, leadership. I’m looking to identify those kids over the next year. (The bulk of the film will be shot in 2020.) Their journey is the central thread of the film.

On that thread, I’ll hang the other stories:

What makes swimming different from other sports? What are the lessons learned when boys and girls practice together in the same lane? What’s special about 5 year-olds and 15 year-olds competing together on a team at the same meets?

What made Contra Costa County unique? You can’t talk about swimming in Contra Costa without asking, “Why did this explosion of rec swimming happen here?”

How do we balance fun and competitiveness? A question of interest to the parents of every athlete in any sport.

What does swimming mean to the community? How does it influence our social fabric?

Finally, I promise you won’t want to miss the stories of alumni sharing what growing up with rec swimming has meant in their lives.

You can view the proposed timeline for this project in a previous post.

I’m committed to making this happen, but I can’t do it alone. I’ll be asking for all kinds of help along the way but here are some ways you can help right now:

  1. Share this blog with your family and friends near and far.

  2. Follow Flip Turns on Facebook and Instagram.

  3. Share my posts with your Facebook friends.

  4. Contribute archival photos, film or digital recordings of rec swimming activities in years past.

  5. Share your family’s experience with me.

Want to follow along? Join the community using the form at the bottom of this page.

If you have questions or ideas, please feel free to contact me directly.

Photo: Mary Conner