Toyota, 'Upstream' (2021)
Toyota take a lyrical dive into the journey of thirteen-time Paralympic gold medalist Jessica Long in this enchanting commercial. Framed around her difficult start in life - adopted as a baby from Siberia with a rare medical condition - the film follows her long road from there to sporting glory.
Director Tarsem (no stranger to water courtesy of Levi's) handles the film's narative with a delicate hand here, allowing understated voiceover performances to shine with genuine emotional resonance. This isn't a story about overcoming disability but rather of becoming oneself, and it's all the stronger for making that significant delineation clear [Syd Briscoe]
giffgaff, 'The Big Swim' (2017)
The representation of freedom in giffgaff's 2017 ad is gloriously over the top. Using a mixture of in-camera effects and CGI techniques, a woman is shown hurtling into the sky and beyond as she steps off a diving board and heads up instead of down.
Calmly ascending through the outer layers of our planet's atmosphere, she passes the International space Station and the moon before boomeranging around Mars and heading home. Her progress is monitored by her concerned husband, with a little help from the boffins whose lab he gate-crashes. [Jason Stone]
Under Armour, 'Michael Phelps' (2016)
A glance at Michael Phelps's CV is enough to make anyone feel as though they're doggy paddling through life. As this brutal, brilliant ad for Under Armour shows, the broadest shoulders in swimming bear a weight that borders on the superhuman.
With his beard and chiselled physique, there is a hint of the beast about Phelps as he hits the gym. Close-ups capture every sinew being stretched to the limit, while the camera has its work cut out keeping up with the man in full flow. Yet the cost of this effort is palpable. [Andrew MacGregor]
Short Film, 'Johanna Under the Ice' (2016)
Having recovered from a biking accident thanks to cold water therapy, Johanna Nordblad embraced what lies below the icy surface by becoming a world record-holding freediver. This entrancing profile from director Ian Derry captures both the alien beauty of an Arctic lake and the human desire to stay in control.
Those of a nervous disposition may feel obliged to look away as her flirtation with a very obvious catastrophe appears to form part of the appeal. Despite swimming just inches below the surface, the thick coating of ice looks like an impenetrable barrier between Nordblad and the world above. [Andrew MacGregor]
Naughty Boy, 'Runnin' (Lose It All)' (2015)
This astonishing promo by Charlie Robins for Naughty Boy's 'Runnin' is a simple tale of boy meets girl. Its key point of difference is that they appear to live underwater... and no matter how hard you look, there's nothing that suggests the action could have possibly been crafted in post.
That's because it's all filmed for real. How? Well, if you're Robins, you ask free-diving world champion Guillaume Nery to play lead male, free-diving champion Alice Mondolo to play his love, and fellow champ and filmmaker Julie Gaultier to collaborate. Everything from the way the pair move - fluid and majestic - to the stunning grade and the sheer clarity of the images leaves us marvelling. [Alice May]