Swimming for Gold

image for Swimming for Gold

Short takes

Parental guidance to 8 (themes, potentially disturbing scenes)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Swimming for Gold
  • a review of Swimming for Gold completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 14 September 2020.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 5 Not recommended under 5 due to possible lack of interest.
Children aged 5–8 Parental guidance recommended due to themes and potentially disturbing scenes.
Children over the age of 8 Ok for this age group.

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines. Other classification advice (OC) is provided where the Australian film classification is not available.

Name of movie: Swimming for Gold
Classification: G
Consumer advice lines: Very mild themes
Length: 91 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Following a traumatic event, champion swimmer Claire Carpenter (Peyton List) finds she is unable to compete and disappears from public sight. Worried about her lack of focus, her father (Martin Dingle Wall) insists she take a coaching position at a swim camp in Australia and puts her on a plane to Brisbane. Things go from bad to worse for Claire when: she finds she is rooming with her archrival, Mikayla (Lauren Esposito) who delights in turning the others girls against her; the boys team mock her and refuse to listen to anything she says; Coach Bodhi (Ray Chong Nee) has no idea what he is doing; and despite her desperate protestations, her father insists that she stay in Australia. Deciding she couldn’t care less and there is no point in trying, Claire makes a mockery of training the boys until the team’s captain Liam (Daniel Needs) helps turn her around. Slowly, Claire begins to whip the boys into shape and help the girls improve their performance as well. By the time the national championships arrive Claire has learned some powerful lessons about forgiveness and friendship but ultimately it is up to the team to prove to themselves, their parents and the world at large that they have what it takes not only to win but also to save their beloved swim camp from imminent closure.


Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Bullying; Disconnectedness from parents; The pressure of disappointment; Facing your fears.

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There is some violence in this movie including:

  • A group of girls gang up on Claire and throw water balloons at her.
  • A swimmer grabs Mikayla’s goggles and purposely crushes them with her foot.
  • A swimmer shoves a reporter into a pool.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, including the following:

  • It is unlikely that children in this age group will be frightened by this film.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes and scary visual images, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children aged five to eight, including the following:

  • Some viewers may find the scenes when Claire is standing over the water, trying to face her fear of going in, to be somewhat distressing. Claire is breathing heavily and looks scared. In one instance a flashback depicts a panicky underwater moment that isn’t clear or explained until later when the audience learns of an accident in which Claire nearly drowned.
  • Liam’s parents are very dismissive of his love for swimming, are constantly trying to get him to quit and are pressuring him to go to medical school. It is clear that Liam is stressed and concerned about disappointing his parents.
  • Mikayla has almost no connection with her parents. She describes how they send her away to swim camp and leave for Bali the moment she is gone, how they never invite her to join them and never seem to notice anything she does. She tries so hard to be the best in the hopes that her parents will finally pay attention. Some children who may feel a similar sense of disconnection may be saddened by this scene.
  • Claire’s mother died in a car accident when she was 6. This is not shown but the accident is discussed on one occasion and it is clear that Claire misses her mum.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

  • Nothing further of concern.

Product placement

The following products are displayed or used in this movie:

  • Funky Trunks, Funkita and Arena swimwear are all repeatedly featured throughout the film. There was also a mini, film related, commercial for Funkita and Funky Trunks prior to the movie commencing.
  • Piranha Golden Hash Potato Grills chips.
  • Puma shoes and bags.
  • Apple iPhones.
  • Apple iMac computer.
  • Beats wireless headphones.

Sexual references

There are some sexual references in this movie, including:

  • One of the girls refers to Liam as a “stone cold hottie.”

Nudity and sexual activity

There is some nudity and sexual activity in this movie, including:

  • Most of the characters are often seen in swim trunks and bathing suits.
  • Claire and Liam kiss on a park bench and almost kiss on another occasion.

Use of substances

  • None noted.

Coarse language

There is some coarse language in this movie, including:

  • There was no coarse language noted in the film, however, the main character was initially ridiculed and called, “Catastrophe Claire”, due to an incident at a national championship which went viral on social media.

In a nutshell

Swimming for Gold is an Australian made, family friendly, feel-good, film that is suitable for all but the youngest viewers and will likely be best enjoyed by tween audiences. The film, though perhaps not always realistic, contains many positive messages about vulnerability, working hard to reach your dreams and celebrating the success of others.

The main messages from this movie are that there is power in positivity and that, in life, it is not what happens to us that defines us but rather how we handle what comes our way.

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • Friendship
  • Forgiveness
  • Teamwork
  • Courage
  • Persistence and determination.

This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss with their children attitudes and behaviours, and their real-life consequences, such as:

  • Bullying.
  • Failing to communicate and treating people badly due to misunderstandings.
  • Refusing to listen to the dreams of young adults who have talent in more than one area.
  • Disconnecting from your child or forgetting to truly see them for who they are and all that they can become.