PBS POV Swim Team is available now on DVD with an SRP of $24.99 and digital download and a run time of 100 minutes. The film chronicles the lives of three diverse young men on the autistic spectrum with a common passion and love for swimming. When doctors told Michael and Maria McQuay that their son with autism would never be self-sufficient, the pair responded by seeking out a series of therapies and programs for him. After discovering there was a dearth of suitable public services, they formed their own swim team for children with developmental disabilities. The film follows three diverse young men Michael McQuay Jr., Robert Justino and Kelvin Truong from Perth Amboy, New Jersey, who falls on the autism spectrum. New Jersey reports the highest rate of autism in the country, with one in 26 boys on the spectrum. On the McQuays’ team, the Jersey Hammerheads, these young men find inclusion, independence, and space to achieve their loftiest goals.
At its heart, the eye-opening Swim Team chronicles the hard work and dedication the Hammerheads undertake to make life work in, and out, of the swimming pool. Justino dreams of making video games, despite predictions from his teachers that store clerking will be the only job available to him. Truong, who also has Tourette’s syndrome, struggles with controlling verbal and physical outbursts.
Compassionate and perceptive, filmmaker Lara Stolman also manages to capture the parents’ hopes and frustrations. As Truong’s mother shows the holes that Truong has made in the walls at home, she maintains a smile, though her voice quavers at times. Stolman makes clear that the parents face financial burdens, compounded by an underfunded public school system ill-equipped to support special-needs children and young adults. The Jersey Hammerheads rack up medals and eventually make it to the State Summer Games at the Special Olympics. One member of the team even goes on to compete in the national Special Olympics games. The Hammerheads feel most comfortable in the pool’s fast lane. “When I’m swimming,” says Michael McQuay Jr., “I feel normal.”
My Opinion: This was an inspiring film to see these boys with autism be on a swim team and have so many dreams as we do regardless of their disabilities. I also liked that the filmmaker follows the parents of the boys and how they handle their boys and what financial burdens they have. This film really makes you think and
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