A college-educated African-American schoolteacher frustrated by his inability to find a job repairs an abandoned recreational pool hall in hopes of starting Philadelphia's first African-American swim team in this inspirational drama that takes its cue from the true-life story of charismatic 1970s-era schoolteacher Jim Ellis. The year is 1973 and the job market is tight. Jim Ellis (Terrence Howard
) may have a college diploma, but despite his education he still can't seem to find a job. An aspiring teacher with a lifelong love of competitive swimming, Ellis determines to take his future into his own hands when he discovers a deserted recreational pool hall in the slums of the city. Though he and kindly local janitor Elston (Bernie Mac
) do their best to get the crumbling pool hall in working order, the pair find their benevolent efforts thwarted when the building is targeted for demolition. Little do the forces that be know that Jim isn't a man to quietly lie down and admit defeat; despite the racism, violence, and threats made by an unsympathetic city official that all threaten to destroy his vivid new dream, the man who was once without purpose boldly resolves to recruit troubled street teens and transform them into capable swimmers in time for the upcoming state championships.