Swim Team will take you on an emotional roller-coaster.
Thursday night was the New York premiere of the Swim Team at the DOC New York City Film Festival.
The documentary had many viewers laughing and tearing while watching three main characters, Robbie, Mikey, and Kelvin of the New Jersey Hammerheads swim team go through coming-of-age struggles. About children on the autism spectrum, the story line is unlike other documentaries.
Maria and Mike McQuay formed the New Jersey Hammerheads, after recognizing the importance of autistic children learning how to swim. The number one cause of death in Autistic children is drowning. They felt that through training, the competition would also help the boys gain confidence and social skills, and give them an environment where they don’t have to feel different. They always wanted to give an option to their son, Mikey, who had nowhere else to adapt his swimming skills.
Director Lara Stolman highlights the unique qualities about what makes each of the boys so special. Each of their personalities and motivations trying to be as normal as possible when everyone around them is different, stole viewers’ hearts. You will fall in love with each of their stories, and you can follow the journeys of the boys as they compete for national and state championships.
Based in Perth Amboy, New Jersey, Stolman’s cast of Swim Team has been underserved in autism intervention and education.
Robbie Justino was raised by a single mother who had to leave school when Robbie was two. Robbie says he wanted to join swimming to get skinny. His bright and funny personality shines through, as Robbie doesn’t realize why he’s different from others, and uses humor to cope when learning about new things. His charisma is magnetic, and you’ll see his journey coping with his autism and pushing through to become the captain of his swim team.
Mikey McQauy Jr., Mike and Maria’s son who has a has calm demeanor lets others feels safe around him. Mike shares his love for animals and his journey to win gold at the special Olympics. He said, he likes to “Swim like a fish, come up like a dolphin.”
Kelvin Troung, as his dad puts it “sometimes doesn’t have time to do the whole autistic thing” because he also struggles with Tourette’s Syndrome. You’ll see Kelvin struggle to control his tics and nerves. He turns to swimming as the only time his autism or tourettes doesn’t affect him is in the water.
Stolman’s direction mastered with the Laela’s Kilborn’s photography made for an inciting documentary. Few swim films make you feel like you are in the water, for moments it did just that.
Swim Team is a film where time will pass by so fast because you’ll be immersed and interested in the children’s lives and feel for their parents’ pain when they struggle with hurdles to raise their sons.
The musical scores are also a great addition to the dramatic scenes.
Swim Team is a charming documentary that will leave you inspired and grateful.