Lara Stolman’s documentary “Swim Team” aired on PBS POV Monday night, October 2, 2017.
The documentary traces three autistic young men in high school who find themselves in competitive swimming, for a Perth Amboy, NJ team called the “Hammerheads”. The young men are Michael McQuay, Jr., Robert Justino, and Kelvin Truong.
Along the way, the film explains the rules for how they can graduate from high school. The state has the responsibility to educate them until age 21. But Michael gets to graduate at 18.
There is a scene where a female counselor explains to Justino that he is competing in a special Olympics style event because he is a person with a disability. Justino does not seem to fully comprehend, on his own, that his capability to function as an adult may not be what others would expect.
The film does not particularly stress athleticism; the kids don’t “peak” and there are no scenes involving shaving. I can recall going to a swim meet at SMU in Dallas in 1982, at the “natatorium”, and the competitive NCAA college students definitely peaked for the event The crowd was as loud as at a football game.
I never learned to swim very well, although I stumbled through mandatory swimming as an undergraduate in college. I was physically behind other boys and some people say I have Asperger’s, but then some people say that about Mark Zuckerberg or Alan Turing. I tended to catch up somewhat in Army Basic at age 24 in 1968 (after graduate school) although I spent three weeks in “special training company”.
High schools did not have swimming pools when I was growing up, but the wealthier ones do now. Swimming is often now required PE for graduation. (It wasn’t required in Army Basic in 1968 but I presume it is in Navy and Marines.) There are many reports that African-American students often do not learn to swim. After the film (abridged slightly from its announced 90-minute length) the director did a brief QA.
I’ll note “The Good Doctor” about an autistic (and quite likeable) surgical resident on ABC. The series was not aired in DC last night because of pre-emption by a Washington Redskins football game.
|Director, writer:||Lara Stolman|
|When and how viewed:||PBS POV 2017/10/2|
(Posted: Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2017 at 2 PM EDT)