The Swimmer is a 1968 American surrealist-drama film starring Burt Lancaster. The film was written and directed by Academy Award-nominated husband-and-wife team of Eleanor Perry (screenplay adaptation) and Frank Perry (director). The story is based on the 1964 short story "The Swimmer" by John Cheever, which appeared in the July 18, 1964, issue of The New Yorker. The 95-minute movie adds new characters and scenes consistent with those in the original 12-page short story.


In an autumnal forest, strewn with dead leaves someone is running. It borders an affluent suburb in Connecticut. Out of the forest a fit and tanned middle-aged man emerges wearing nothing but a bathing suit and no shoes. It is Ned Merrill and he drops by a pool party being held by old friends. They offer him a cocktail while nursing hangovers from the night before. He gives no indication where he has been or for how long. As they share stories, Ned realizes there is a series of backyard swimming pools that could form a "river" back to his house, making it possible for him to "swim his way home". Ned dives into the pool, emerging at the other end and beginning his journey. Ned's behavior perplexes his friends, who apparently know worrisome things about his recent past which he seems to have forgotten.