Swimming and water sports are popular activities for many people, especially during the summer. But did you know that there are some interesting patents and inventions that can make your water experience more fun, safe or efficient? Let’s dive into some examples of some of the most weird and wonderful inventions related to swimming and water play.
If you don’t have access to a pool or a beach, you can still enjoy the sensation of splashing water with this invention by Otto A. Hensel. He patented the “Rocking or Oscillating Bath Tub” in 1900, which was designed to move back and forth on a pivot, creating waves that would splash water against the bather. Who needs a water park when you can have this?
Swim fins are devices that attach to the feet and increase propulsion, stability, and manoeuvrability when swimming. They are also known as flippers, fins, or webbed feet. Swim fins were first patented in 1914 by Louis de Corlieu, a French naval officer who experimented with various designs of rubber and metal fins. He called his invention “propulseurs de natation et de sauvetage” (swimming and rescue propellers). Swim fins have since evolved into various shapes, sizes, colours, and materials, and are used by recreational and competitive swimmers, divers, surfers, and other water sports enthusiasts.
Goggles are eyewear that protect the eyes from water, chlorine, salt, UV rays, and debris when swimming. Goggles also enhance underwater vision by correcting refractive errors and reducing glare. They were first patented in 1926 by Guy Gilpatric, an American aviator and writer who designed a “diving mask” that had glass lenses mounted on a rubber frame that fitted around the eyes and nose. Goggles have since been refined with features such as anti-fog coating, adjustable straps, interchangeable lenses, and different shapes and sizes to suit different face types.
This invention is not yet a reality, but it could be in the future. A team of engineers from Norway filed a patent application for a “Submerged Floating Tunnel” in 2016, which is a novel way of crossing bodies of water. The patent outlines that the device would be submerged and anchored along the seabed, in a sufficiently deep body of water. It is designed to emit warmth and nutrients that would attract marine life, creating an underwater ecosystem. The tunnel would also have windows that would allow passengers to enjoy the view of the ocean.
If you are afraid of sharks, this invention might be for you. A company called Shark Attack Mitigation Systems (SAMS) developed a wetsuit that is designed to deter sharks from attacking humans. The wetsuit has two types of patterns: one that mimics the colours and stripes of venomous fish, and another that creates a contrast that makes the wearer less visible in the water. The company claims that these patterns can reduce the risk of shark attacks by up to 80%.
This invention is one of the most controversial ones in the history of swimming. The Speedo LZR Racer is a swimsuit that was designed to enhance the performance of swimmers by reducing drag, increasing buoyancy and compressing muscles. The swimsuit was made of a special fabric that was developed by NASA, and had ultrasonically welded seams that reduced friction. The swimsuit was so effective that it was banned by the International Swimming Federation (FINA) in 2009, after many world records were broken by swimmers wearing it.
This invention may not be directly related to swimming or water play, but it is certainly interesting. Andrew Jackson Jr. patented the “Eye-protector for Chickens” in 1903, which was intended to prevent chickens from pecking each other’s eyes. The device consisted of a pair of goggles that would cover the chicken’s eyes, leaving only a small opening for vision. The goggles were attached to a strap that would go around the chicken’s head. No more fowl play!
These are just some of the interesting patents and inventions related to swimming and water play. There are many more out there, waiting to be discovered or created. What are some of your favourite inventions for swimming or water play?