Touch the Wall: a tale of two swimmers

At Team Mermaids we love swimming and we love the cinema so when Brian invited us to go and watch the first international screening of Touch the Wall we were there!

Touch the Wall tells the story of rising swimming star Missy Franklin and two time Olympian Kara Lynn Joyce as they prepare for the 2012 Olympics in London.

Missy is just 15/16 at the start of the documentary training with the Colorado Stars. She is unproven but there are high expectations of success from the swimming community. Kara Lynn has already competed in two Olympics winning four silver medals in the freestyle and medley 4×100 relays at Athens and Beijing. Kara Lynn’s choice to move to train with the mainly teenage Colorado Stars raises eyebrows in some quarters but her and Missy quickly build a good relationship and benefit from training with each other. Ultimately Kara Lynn, however, decides that the Colorado Stars is not for her and moves to swim with a pro team with other swimmers in their early twenties.

The documentary is a fascinating look at swimming from opposite ends of the career spectrum. Missy can’t put a foot wrong, going from strength to strength, while Kara Lynn struggles, loses her funding and is disappointed with performances. Watching Kara Lynn struck a cord for me, whether you are swimming at elite level or amateur level giving it you all and everything not quite coming together is no fun.

At the Olympic trials Missy qualified to swim in four individual events in London. Kara Lynn puts in a fantastic performance to come second and qualify for the U.S. Olympic team for a third time in the 50m beating Team Mermaids new hero, Dara Torres to the spot.

In London Missy wins four gold medals in the 100 back, 200 back (in a new world record time), 4x200m free reply, 4x100m medley relay and a bronze in the 4×100 freestyle relay and catapults herself into world stardom. In the documentary Missy comes across as a genuinely lovely person. She swims for her high school team treating the meets as seriously as world champs. She turns down turning pro as it has always been her passion to swim at collage level (she goes on to swim at UC Berkeley for the Cal Bears).

I loved watching this documentary – it is funny and touching and for swimmers there is lots to identify with. The scene were Kara Lynn throws a strop at coach Todd over a set made us laugh as this is something Manda and I have done a ‘few’ times ourselves (poor Terry and Dan)! The scenes from London 2012 brought back all the good memories of the summer and the amazing job that London did hosting the games. Kara Lynn herself was at the screening to introduce the documentary along with her husband who she met during the filming.

I would thoroughly recommend this documentary about these two amazing ladies.

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