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The Unknown History of Swimwear

December 31, 2014 0 Comments

When I was young I always wanted to know where things came from or how they were made.
I even had this book that I took everywhere that showed how buildings and cars and airplanes were made.
I was fascinated. Now that I am older and write a lot about swimming, that childlike curiosity has returned and I want to know where some of the things swimmers wear originated.
Because I’m sure that you have been curious too, here are a few backstories of common swimwear.

I can see clearly

Goggles are a widely used piece of swimming equipment.
They help keep water out of your eyes and help you see underwater. How did these great and useful things get developed, you may ask?
Well, here it is: The first recorded use of eye covering dates back to the 14th century.
These goggles were made of polished tortoise shell and were used by Persian pearl divers. The early design of these goggles wasn’t very comfortable but they did help people see underwater.
Over the years, many modifications have been made to make goggles better. For example, glass and plastic has been used for the eye piece. Wood and rubber have also been incorporated for a better fit.
But it all started “way back when” with those polished tortoise shells.

kicking it old school

Swimming faster is always (62)
The real question is, “how to swim faster?” Well, you don’t have to worry thanks to one of our founding fathers, Benjamin Franklin.
When he was a young boy, he made swim fins to help him move like a fish in the river. His were made to go on the hands and fit over the thumb like a painter’s palette.
Over the years, many others contributed in developing better and better fins. But Ben Franklin got it started.

don’t mess up my hair!

Nothing is worse than getting a really expensive hair style and then having it immediately ruined by pool water.
But what’s a guy to do? Never swim without a flotation device? Yell at everyone to stop splashing? Well, worry no longer! Your hard won locks will be safe because of our ancestors and their need to be fashionable.
From ancient times until the late 1800’s, swim caps were made of waxed silk of taffeta. With the invention of rubber, however, things changed. New, better and more fashionable caps were made.
For a long time, it was a symbol of status on the beach if you could afford a cap to save your hair. Especially during World War 2 when rubber became so scarce. Better and better versions continued to come out over the years.
The cap became less about fashion or status and more about convenience or speed. It continues to change and as new materials are developed, better caps will come out. But it all started with nice hair cuts and their protection.

One last thought

Like I said before, I love to find out where things come from.
I thought the backstories of the above listed items were pretty cool. But enough about the past… I’d like to leave you with a thought for the present. Buy an Underwater Audio Waterproof iPod Shuffleto go along with your other swimwear items. You’ll be glad you did when you see how much more fun swimming can be!
If you have any other cool stories of where swim stuff comes from or you just want to comment, go ahead and do it in the space below.
Remember swim hard and have fun!

Ally Henley
Ally Henley

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