Skwim with the Founder
As a big Irish Catholic family in Southern California, all 7 of us kids learned to swim as toddlers, starting in an inflatable 3-ring pool, with mom as our ‘lifeguard’. My older sisters were naturals and that inspired us younger siblings. Dad, who was a strong swimmer, worked in the building industry and was always creating something in the garage. Grandpa, a retired plastics chemist, had access to polycarbonate window panels, like for viewing dolphins. So, one summer, dad fabricated a large clear above-ground pool which looked like a giant aquarium. And yes, it was bulletproof (when it wasn’t leaking). In 1972, we moved to Newport Beach, and mom and dad encourage us to explore the ocean. In the classroom, I was a fish out of water; more a student of Sports Illustrated and pick-up sports games. And my favorite place to be, was in the surf with my brothers. Even back then, I yearned for a fast, easy-to-play water sports game, and puzzled by the industry void.
In the summers of our high school and college years, my brothers and I seemed to wear swim fins more often than shoes. We surfed, swam and snorkeled, often with open wounds on our feet from those fins, due to daily use. Fins were mandatory for our ocean sports and saved my life more than once in big storm surf, but man, they were brutal on the feet.
After college, I wondered if a more comfortable and versatile swim fin design could speed a community water-sports game, enhancing play for participants and spectators alike. One day in 1985, now married, and at the pool with our toddlers, we played with a disk-shaped pool filter lid, seeing that it could glide across the water. That discovery fueled the mission for a water-disk game propelled by swim fins. After a move to the Seattle Eastside, the equipment and rules steadily took shape over the next 20 years. With invaluable help from family (now 5 kids), friends, and aquatic professionals, the game was gradually defined, refined, and named SKWIM (skim+swim), and played using a soft foam hydroplaning disk that could glide 100 feet.
It soon became evident that SKWIMTM was the first water game for the whole community; from beginning swimmer to Olympic hopeful; for children, and straight on through to senior citizens. Lifeguards have become attracted to SKWIM because the game emulates lifesaving. Like rescue swimmers, SKWIM players, wearing Skwim fins and uniforms, use teamwork while tracking each player and the fast-gliding disk. SKWIM is quick and continuously changing direction, so head-high swimming is a must. The game is an engaging way for lifesavers and the general public to get water-skilled water-strong and water-smart. Lifeguards say SKWIM builds player camaraderie, character, water safety, and a spirit of teamwork!
In 2009, SKWIM was officially introduced nationally by lifeguards, swim instructors, and P.E. teachers. Soon after, SKWIM spread to Canada, Hong Kong, Africa, and recently Greece and Norway. In 2014, International SKWIM Certification was published as the global standard for measuring and certifying water safety with any level of player. SKWIM Certification is the first standardized curriculum to graduate participants from young beginning swimmers to competent lifesavers within the context of game play. In 2016, the SKWIM C.A.R.E. Initiative (Critical Aquatic Response Education) was established to inspire every swimmer to teach one non-swimmer how to swim, in the context of SKWIM game play. Now, in 2020, the American Red Cross offers SKWIM gear in conjunction with their other lifesaving essentials!