Our Story

A unique perspective on the sport of swimming from the past, present and future

In the short span of a decade, the town of Middletown, New Jersey, produces two Olympians (2000 and 2012), both unlikely athletic superstars, and both in the sport of swimming.

Tom Wilkens, a retired swimmer now working in the insurance industry, and Connor Jaeger, a recent college graduate with hopes of making a run at another Olympics, both sacrifice multiple years of their lives after graduating college to the sport of swimming and the hopes of qualifying for the Olympic Games. Wilkens, now coaching part-time at the YMCA he grew up swimming at, and Jaeger, still pursuing athletic endeavors, both share a strong appreciation for the sport they chose and relish the opportunity to chase their full potential.

Wilkens, an average swimmer in high school, improbably rises to become one of the top swimmers in the country by the end of his senior year at Stanford. In the years building up to the 2000 Olympic Trials, Wilkens encounters both the exhilarating highs and devastating lows that nearly all elite level swimmers are familiar with, culminating with him securing a spot on the 2000 US Olympic team.

Jaeger, also an average swimmer in high school, enjoys a similarly surprising rise to becoming one of the top swimmers in the US by the end of his career at the University of Michigan. After unexpectedly qualifying for the Olympics in 2012, Jaeger goes on to place 6th in the 1500m freestyle in London, and has not lost the event to an American since that time. In 2013, Jaeger continues to lead his collegiate team as their captain, before graduating and turning professional. The plight of a professional swimmer striving to qualify for a second Olympics is in full view within Jaeger's day-to-day life, as he attends graduate school and networks with the hopes of setting up a job for his post-swimming career, all the while training for the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro Brazil.

The Water Is My Sky offers a unique glimpse into the world of elite competitive swimming as never before seen on film. It seeks to bring to light the intense passion demonstrated by its athletes in addition to the unforgiving nature of the sport itself.


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Tom Wilkens

Tom Wilkens

One of USA Swimming's most unlikely superstars, Tom Wilkens rose to international acclaim following a stellar career as a walk-on at Stanford University ('98). Choosing to join the legendary Santa Clara Swim Club and handing his career over to head coach Dick Jochums and his assistant, John Bitter, Tom quickly established himself as one of the world's best swimmers in the breaststroke and individual medley events.

Tom's success in the sport culminated with his qualification for the United States Olympic team for the 2000 Games in Sydney, Australia. He continued to swim until 2004 before retiring from the sport. Tom now lives in his hometown of Middletown, NJ with his wife and two children.

Tom's story is a unique glimpse into the triumph and heartbreak that many swimmers experience over the course of a career. Now far removed from the sport, Tom is able to offer a reflective perspective on what that time in his life meant to him and how the sport shaped his life.

Connor Jaeger

Connor Jaeger

The fastest American swimmer in history in the men's 1500m freestyle, Connor Jaeger's rise to prominence in the international swimming community is equally as surprising as the story of Tom Wilkens--which is fitting, given that the two of them grew up in the same area of New Jersey.

After quietly joining the ranks of the University of Michigan Swimming & Diving as a butterfly swimmer, Connor unexpectedly qualified for the 2012 US Olympic Team in the 1500m freestyle--and has not lost to an American swimmer in that event in a major competition ever since.

After graduating from the University of Michigan in 2014, Connor became a professional swimmer and has continued to train towards the 2016 Olympic Games to be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The Water Is My Sky captures both the exciting opportunities enjoyed by professional swimmers as well as portraying the struggles of athletes attempting to make a living in sports relatively low in mainstream popularity.