Swimming Upstream (2003) - Plot Summary Poster

Plot Summary

  • The true story of Tony Fingleton, a young man from a troubled family who found the inner strength to become a champion. Always overshadowed in his father's eyes by his brothers, it is only when Tony displays an extraordinary swimming talent that he feels he has a shot at winning his father's heart.

    - Written by Crusader Entertainment
  • Harold Fingleton, a vile, brutal harbor laborer, is obsessed with sports and macho toughness to the point of encouraging eldest son Harold to bully sensitive junior Tony, whom both abuse as 'sissy'. Only when he discovers Tony and his sweet, timid brother John have a talent for swimming, he turns away from boxer Harold to make them both toil in the pool beyond exhaustion, yet only John gets proud paternal praise. Tony is systematically ignored or belittled. After Tony proves himself the very best, Dad actually devotes to training John to steal his place on the road to the Olympics, thus over-straining their close fraternal bond.

    - Written by KGF Vissers
  • Approximately ten years in the life of Anthony Fingleton is presented, from when he was an adolescent in the mid-1950s, to the day of the men's 100m backstroke final at the 1964 Summer Olympics. Growing up in Brisbane, Australia, Tony was the second of five children of working class Harold and Dora Fingleton. It was a dysfunctional growing up with Harold being both physically and emotionally abusive, especially toward Tony and Dora, who in turn tried to protect Tony from that abuse which only angered Harold more. Harry admired what he considered manliness, which Tony admits he never was in the stereotypical way. The abuse was exacerbated by Harold's alcoholism, which in turn led to frequent difficulties with money as Harold, who worked on the docks only when ships were in port, was often off work, sometimes on divisive strikes. On the most part, Tony got along with his siblings, especially "number 3" John. But each of the five children did whatever they needed to do as self-preservation measures against Harold's abuse, sometimes at the expense of harmony with their siblings. As a refuge, especially the four youngest felt comfort in the local pool. It was only when he found out that both Tony and John were good swimmers that Harold began to pay Tony any attention in providing his form of training for the two. Regardless, nothing Tony did was ever good enough, Harold spurring on anyone else but Tony. Still, Tony wanted to make his father proud. Tony still had a grand plan of sorts where winning in the pool in and of itself was not the end goal, but solely a means to a better end.

    - Written by Huggo
  • The inspirational life story of Australian swimmer Tony Fingleton.

    - Written by Crusader


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