Many people enjoy swimming from time to time, it's fun and a complete sport. Maybe you even like taking the waves. Or maybe you just like the relaxing feeling of the sea. Or maybe you enjoy the water in company. But if you are in a fiction work you should only go for a swim in broad daylight, otherwise things tend to get a little messy...
No matter the place: the beach, a lake, a river, open sea or a swimming pool, if you go for a swim after dark you will die in the water or shortly after. It may be a Sea Monster out for dinner, it may be a Serial Killer stalking you, it may be an Eldritch Abomination coming out of the sewers or maybe you manage to drown by yourself but no matter what, you are in for a gruesome death.
This can be Truth in Television to some degree, as swimmers are less likely to see aquatic predators such as sharks and crocodiles at night, and such predators are often more active at night too. This is why many beaches close at night or at least warn people that night swimming is dangerous. In a similar vein, a human killer can take advantage of the water, darkness and often solitude of a night swimmer. Drownings also tend to take place at night, though this may be generally because it gives people plenty of time to have got drunk first.
As a Death Trope, spoilers ahoy.
Examples of this trope:
- Frequent in the Jaws movies. The opening scene in the first movie is the most remarkable one.
- Happens to anyone who skinnydips at night in Crystal Lake in the Friday the 13th movies.
- Parodied in 1941 - girl goes swimming at night, gets caught on a Japanese submarine. It's even the same girl who did the Jaws scene.
- Subverted in Cat People. Although it doesn't end with a death, the suspension being built up pretty much forces you to expect it
- Averted in classical Finnish films ("Suomi-filmi"); skinny dips, nighttime or not, bring no greater harm than perhaps an unwanted admirer.
- Deep Blue Sea plays with this trope. It's subverted in the beginning as it seems everyone in the water is going to die, but they are saved by the protagonist. However later it's played straight and often, as most of the movie takes place during night.
- Averted in Gattaca, when Vincent and Anton go for a swim in a lake/ocean (it's not explicitly stated and there's minor problems with either option) at night during the film's climax as a Call-Back to when they did the same towards the beginning. Vincent is stated as being at risk for a heart condition, and Anton was shown to be a better swimmer in the beginning of the film. Anton becomes afraid and gives up, while Vincent has already resolved that he will succeed or he will die, and only stops to go back and help his brother.
- Parodied in the opening scene of Piranha, in which a couple break into the research facility to take a dip in the pool and get eaten by the piranha inside.
- Despite the warnings, two lovers in The Monster That Challenged the World go swimming in the moonlight, and they soon disappear beneath the surface.
- In Death Screams, Sandy at the bonfire party decides to go swimming in nude. She's interrupted by the floating corpses of the two lovers from the opening, followed by the killer slashing her throat.
- In the Back Story to The Reincarnation of Peter Proud, the title character goes for a swim at night. His wife rows out to him in a small boat and knocks him unconscious with a paddle, causing him to drown. The same thing happens in The Film of the Book.
- And, the reincarnated man recreates the swim as part of his plan to rid himself of the bad dreams of his former life. Unfortunately, the wife of the previous man follows him out as before. He tries to stop her from killing with an oar as before, but this time she has a gun and he dies all over again. Bummer ending.
- One of the murder victims in A Caribbean Mystery falls foul of the killer while swimming at night.
- In the book Siren the older sister drowns when she decides to go and dive off a cliff for fun in the middle of the night
- In Discworld book Pyramids, this is why main character Pteppic has a Missing Mom. She took an evening swim in what turned out to be a crocodile.
- Too many CSI, CSI: Miami and CSI: New York episodes to list. When this happens the usual is finding the body floating in the swimming pool.
- In Primeval, a couple is swimming in a public pool at night, when a mosasaur joins them...
- In an episode of Brimstone, a young woman (who is one of the 113 escapees from Hell who makes for the show's McGuffin, and who went to Hell after she murdered the families of the men who raped her) goes swimming at night with her new boyfriend. When he gets a little too frisky and triggers her, her demonic powers kick in and she boils him alive in the water.
- Happens in Buffy the Vampire Slayer in the episode where the swim team are turning into fish monsters.
- In Smallville Lana Lang once went for a night swim, at the high school pool if memory serves. Naturally she was attacked, and Clark saved her.
- It was not Clark who saved her but some guy hunting meteor freaks that shot her attacker dead before he could drown her. Clark would have been too late.
- A Castle episode starts with the champion of a college swim team training in the pool after dark. Of course, he ends up being the body of the week not even two minutes into the episode.
- Played with in the finale of Boardwalk Empire: Nucky strips off all his clothes and swims far out into the ocean at first light, ducking under the water in the final shot. It's left ambiguous whether this is a flash-forward to his death or simply a recreational swim. Later on, he tells Eli he'd been for a swim out of nostalgia, as he used to do it as a kid. He had considered swimming out too far, but decided to return instead.