The origin of SwimVest Mk. 1

The origin of SwimVest Mk. 1

This is the story of the SwimVest, our vest designed to improve safety for swimmers.

Every swimmer has keen memories at the pool, the beach or the lake. Whether it is from a faraway time in childhood - innocent and mischievous - or the unfaltering joy of riding the previous weekend’s wave, tumbling in the whitewash. Swimming is either a source of joy, a way to mediate, to stay physically sharp or all those simultaneously. Swimming, as Lynn Sherr puts it, is as close to flying as one can get. It is the opportunity to reach, if not for the stars, at least for the starfish. Swimming stretches beyond its earthly limits, helping to soothe every ache and caress every muscle. It is also an inward journey, a time of quiet contemplation encased in an element at once hostile and familiar. Swimming happens in an element that is both hostile and familiar. Hostile, sadly, we know too well why. People drown every year, among which, good swimmers too, experienced athletes and seasoned enthusiasts. We know how to protect absolutely against drowning: wearing a life jacket. But that would defeat the purpose of swimming.


Free stock photo of azure, beach, dawn Stock Photo


We needed to invent something better.

“We need to rethink the safety of swimmers and design can be the conduit of that change, that transformation. ” — ANDRE BAZ, CTO OF HEXORAY

Part 1 : the feeling

In the water, you are weightless and ageless. It was critical to capture that feeling of freedom, while still maintaining our safety promise. So naturally, we looked at what Nature does best and the idea of having a protective wing, a foil or a fin was born. The Manta Ray became the inspiration for our safety device.

Part 2: the engineering

Swimming is a unique activity because it requires primarily the upper body for the propulsive force, with 90% of the driving force provided primarily by the torque generated from the shoulder. The wider shoulder chain formed by the pectoralis Major, the shoulder in itself all the way back to the lats had to be preserved so that the swim stroke was not affected. Working with partners and athletes, we've used materials that combined strength and stretch to ensure comfort and durability. We've adjusted seam placement and cuts to eliminate chaffing and ensure a smooth swim regardless of time spent in the water and distance travelled. We've applied technology and coatings never seen before in water safety. This has enabled us to package an airbag providing around 80 newton of buoyancy in an hydro-dynamic shell weighting less than 450g. Further to the weight reduction, we've used eco-friendly neoprene made out of calcium carbonates and manufactured using local energy sources. The Swim Airbag Vest is light, fast, safe and reliable.

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