[Watch] Belly Flop: Swimming Through Adorable Determination One Dive at a Time

May 2, 20204 min read

A belly flop can be painful, hilarious and embarrassing, but not if you’re Penny in this adorable animated short from Triggerfish Studios.

Belly Flop is an award-winning South African animated short film written by Kelly Dillon, directed by Jeremy Collins and animated by Triggerfish Studios starring Penny, a fearless young girl learning to dive, unperturbed by a talented diver who keeps stealing the spotlight.

We join Penny, her grandmother and their dog on their day out for some poolside fun and relaxation. Our adorable heroine who still uses arm floaters can’t help but admire the diving prowess of an elegant teen, who dips in and out of the pool without so much as a splash.

Without hesitation, Penny follows her lead in a game of girl see, girl try to do. Where the diving queen is graceful like a swan, Penny is like a log and falls flat on her face with each attempt, in classic, clumsy belly flop fashion. 

As the challenges get steeper, the competition intensifies and everyone roots for the graceful diver, Penny must overcome her quest for praise and acknowledgement and push through her fears in order to finish what she started. 

Eventually, when things get heated, our graceful swan’s silky drop isn’t worth much. In the end and without realizing, it is Penny’s roly-poly full of jolly dive that saves the day and rewards everyone with much more than they bargained for. 

Watch Penny bellyflop below and see why this has won several awards and has been screened at over 50 festivals across the world.

Belly Flop animated short by Triggerfish Studios


Penny’s story is not about feeling insecure, neither is it about accepting that others are better and doing nothing about it. Belly Flop is about trying and trying again and enjoying every bit of it.

At the pool, I watched her admire the young and talented diver and as the challenge grew, I found her ability to keep going remarkable. While she went unnoticed, I was in my room celebrating her effort with her, a celebration she might have appreciated but didn’t need as she continued to persevere.

Belly Flop by Trigger Fish Animation Studio GIF

Walking away from Belly Flop had me thinking a lot about how different people do the same things in different ways and the need to (learn to) appreciate that diversity. I realised the importance of persevering towards the things you want to do in this world because no one else can do it as you do. In time, you’ll come to find that there are people out there who need your unique take no matter the field, from diving to writing animation reviews, to building a brand, to just being, you.

On the other hand, I can’t help but point out that Grandma was reading some pretty ooh la la magazines and wasn’t paying attention to little Penny while she sought some form of positive encouragement. In that, there’s a lesson: in life, you won’t always have someone in your corner especially when you most need it. In situations like that, you best do like Penny and simply climb on. 

Looking for a weekly dose of animated goodness from Africa? Head over to our Weekly Shorts page and satisfy your content needs.

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Nana Yaa Serwaa Osei

This is Nana Yaa, a convert of Squid Magazine. Formerly lost, she's gone through the stages of denial and finally come to realize her appreciation for Africa's diverse creative outlets through African Animation, Digital Art and Comics. A true introvert, gets excited about food and topics on environmental and battles a phobia for office hours. When she's not writing or creating content, she's taking budget trips with her friends or battling her dog over the last pair of socks.


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