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Gay director Adam Kalderon depicts homophobia in the swimming world with ‘The Swimmer’

Based on his life on the Israeli swimming team, Kaldeon’s film explores the pressures of competition and living one’s truth.

Omer Perelman Striks and Asaf Jonas star in “The Swimmer,” film depicting the collision between two LGBTQ athletes and their Olympic ambitions.
Instagram: @the_swimmer_movie_

The trailer for Adam Kalderon’s “The Swimmer” begins with an extreme close-up of shaving cream being lathered across an athlete’s bare chest. The director certainly knows how to get your attention.

Based on Kalderon’s experiences as part of the Israeli swimming team, “The Swimmer” tells the story of an aquatic athlete named Erez (Omer Perelman Striks) as he prepares for Team Israel’s Olympic trials at boarding school. His elite status is made clear in the trailer when his coach informs him, “I singled you out as the winner. But suddenly an obstacle appeared.”

That obstacle is fellow Olympic hopeful Nevo (Asaf Jonas), who complicates matters when Erez develops feelings for him, going against their coach’s orders forbidding competitors from fraternizing.

From this point, the story becomes a battle between Erez’s devotion to his athletic career in the pool and preoccupation with the competitor who inspired his sexual awakening as an LGBTQ athlete.

Based on what Kalderon has revealed about the film’s themes, it would appear that he did not encounter much acceptance during his swimming career.

As he told ScreenDaily’s Geoffrey MacNab, “By making this film, we would not only want to highlight the problem of homophobic bullying in professional sport, but show a hero who is brave and strong enough to face adversity and is able to overcome everything with attitude.”

In a separate interview with The Georgia Voice’s Jim Farmer, Kalderon depicted Erez using his athletic skills as cover for his sexuality in a way that would have been familiar to several LGBTQ athletes before they came out:

“The rest of the swimmers arrive to become the best swimmers that they can. Erez arrives because he has to survive and blend in and be good in a sport that is considered manly, which can give him the freedom to live his life as he wants.”

Additionally, the trailer makes it clear that this is an erotically charged film. Its 90 seconds of running time are filled with close-ups of Speedos, underwater pool footage and sweaty actors doing push-ups with chains around their necks. It’s almost unclear whether the filmmakers want you to buy tickets or message them “U up?”

“The Swimmer” has picked up distribution in Great Britain, Ireland and France and had its United States premiere at the Miami Jewish Film Festival in January where it won the Critic’s Prize. It’s still awaiting a full release in North America and we will update this story when it receives one.