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Making a splash

Swim club is a stroke of genius, writes Sarah Olowofoyeku

When things go wrong, it is easy to hide

STUCK in a tediously dry routine of waking, commuting, working and sleeping, Eric (Rob Brydon) is at his wits’ end. His only escape comes at the end of the working day when he takes the plunge at the swimming pool. While there, he meets a group of men doing the same thing. The ripple effect of their encounters is seen in Swimming with Men, released at cinemas yesterday (Friday 6 July).

Eric is an accountant, working on one of the top floors of a glass building in central London. But it’s at the bottom of a swimming pool where he feels fulfilled. He is going through a midlife crisis, and his work and home situations are leaving him drained.

When he suspects his wife is having an affair he leaves the family home and checks into a hotel. While drowning his sorrows, he is spotted by the men from the pool who are members of a male synchronised swimming team.

Earlier Eric had seen them practising and had advised them that one of their routines was not working because there was an odd number of swimmers in their group. He had told them they needed to lose a man, but they had other ideas.

At a stroke, they invite him to be their eighth member, explaining: ‘This club is a protest against the end of dreams, against who we’ve become.’

They tell Eric that they set up the club to help each other overcome that sinking feeling. One of the rules of the swim club is: ‘We are as strong as our weakest member, and that is strong enough.’

Eric joins the group and finds a strong sense of camaraderie. The men literally hold each other up during their routines, but Eric soon finds that they support each other in more ways than one.

When making their debut performance at a children’s party they meet a member of the Swedish men’s synchronised swimming team who encourages them to represent Great Britain at the unofficial world championships in Milan.

They decide to compete and enlist the help of an instructor, who wants them to tackle harder routines. Spending so much time together and needing to trust each other in order to nail the moves, the men have to face up to their fears, especially Eric.

Rob Brydon, describing how he played the character, said: ‘I wanted to communicate a man taking stock of his life. Things haven’t turned out as he thought they would. And he’s hiding at the pool.’

Eric isn’t the only one who has run away from problems. When things go wrong, it is easy to hide. It may be that we hide behind a tough exterior or bury ourselves in our work. But eventually we must come up to the surface and deal with our problems.

The good news is that we don’t have to do it alone.

God tells us: ‘Don’t be afraid, because I am your God. I will make you strong and will help you’ (Isaiah 41:10 New Century Version).

If we get in the swim with God, we can find the support we need to get through whatever our routine may be.

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