March 07, 2011

Discover the history of swimming, swimwear and swim equipment at British Pathe

I've always loved antiques and recently this hobby unearthed the on line presence of British Pathe. They are one of the oldest media companies in the world with a film archive from 1896-1976. My two greatest passions (all things vintage and swimming) have now been combined into a new obsession - the history of swimming, swim equipment and swim fashions!

The journey started on E-bay when I spotted this vintage Schiaparelli swimsuit previously owned by Melva Moreno who was a Skating Vanities star of the 1940's. Keen to discover more about this glamorous roller skating troupe I did a Google search and found some wonderful film clips on British Pathe. From that moment on I and everyone else at FunSwimShop was hooked.

Swimming Lesson 1926 
Speaking of hooked... take a look at this children's swimming lesson from 1926 where the child is hanging from chains in the water. You'll be pleased to know nothing like that goes on at a Seriously Fun swimming lesson!

There are some fascinating clips of prototype swimming aids which we all take for granted today. Fins or flippers were once known as "Water Pushers", hand paddles were once known as "arm fins", and someone using both together at the same time was known as the "Human Fish or Plate Swimmer"!

Hairstyle Swim Cap!
Swim wear and swim cap fashion shows have provided the most entertainment but none more than the 'hairstyle' swim cap (left) and the swim cap with a glamorous stick on fringe!

We've heard that retro swim caps are set to make a comeback but we think you all feel more comfortable with the streamlined swim caps available today.

What do you think? Can you send us any swim cap crimes of fashion from the family albums? Looking forward to hearing from you...

February 16, 2011

Swim training and protecting your hair against chlorine damage

That's me in the middle, nervously waiting for the start of the swim
Last year I learned to swim and took part in the British Gas Great London Swim in the River Thames. I managed to complete the one mile course in a rather slow 1 hour, 33 minutes and 13 seconds, but at least I finished and raised over £500 for the Child Bereavement Charity. Not bad really for someone who could not swim 25 metres at the start of 2010!

One year on I should be older and wiser, but I'm pleased to report I'm doing it all over again and this time I mean business with a target of under 45 minutes. It's only February but I am already squeezing in 4 training sessions a week exposing myself to chlorine damage. It would be wise to protect my hair with one of the many adult swim caps available on the market but last year I resisted until the day of the swim when it was compulsory.

Chlorine is used in swimming pools as a disinfectant, however it removes the natural protective oils of the hair and scalp causing a severe drying effect. If the hair is not rinsed post swim and the chlorine is left to dry the hair becomes brittle and prone to breaks as well as splitting.

This year I will be 47, so as you can imagine my hair is already suffering dehydration from the natural ageing process! That being the case I thought I had better research some preventative measures to combat chlorine damage.

You may feel silly in a swim cap but they do keep your hair safe from the harsh chemicals in the water. Besides things have moved on a lot since the 1950's and you no longer have to endure a frilly, floral bathing cap!

If you are against swim caps, read on:

Always soak your hair in the shower before getting into the pool. If your hair has already absorbed lots of fresh water there will be little room left in the hair shaft for chemicals.

Don't allow chlorinated hair to dry without washing, since this increases the chances of drying and breakage. Wash your hair with a shampoo that is specially formulated to dissolve chlorine (look for sodium thiosulfate in the ingredients).

Condition hair after every wash and alternate a regular conditioner with a deep-conditioning treatment once a week to keep hair moisturised.  There are many different products available including Circle of Friends pre-swim conditioner and swimmer's shampoo for children. The Paul Mitchell range includes Shampoo Three which removes chlorine and Philip Kingsley have a product called Swimcap which can be applied to the hair before swimming.

If you are a regular swimmer please leave us a comment about your favourite swim caps, shampoos, conditioners and other hair and skincare tips.

January 28, 2011

FunSwimShop products used by Jack Black in Gulliver's Travels

Move over 'Daffy Duck', there's a new star in Hollywood

Last weekend I finally took my daughter to see the 20th Century Fox adaptation of Jonathan Swift's classic, Gulliver's Travels. Back in 2009 FunSwimShop supplied the props department at Pinewood Studios with a large selection of swimming equipment, so we were excited to see how many items we could spot on the silver screen.

For those of you who have seen the film, when Jack Black (Lemuel Gulliver) is on the yacht about to be ship wrecked our googly eyed bath duck flies out of the locker when he is rummaging through our buoyancy aids.

Not many people can say their bath duck has rubbed shoulders with a Hollywood star. We have suggested his name to Cancer Research UK for the next range of celebrity designed bath ducks!

January 12, 2011

Free Swimming with Schweppes

Chances are you're already detoxing your way through January and drinking lots of lovely water.

You may have also taken the plunge and started swimming in it as well in order to shed those Christmas pounds and get fit in 2011.

Once you have invested in a few swim training aids the good news is you won't have to 'spend a penny' in the pool! Well, not if you've been drinking Schweppes Abbey Well water...

The Schwim Free promotion ends on 2nd February 2011, so grab that Schwim cap and enjoy some free swimming before it's too late.

Have a very happy and healthy 2011.

December 16, 2010

Christmas craft using a pool noodle

As the schools are about to break up we wanted to share this lovely Christmas craft project to make gigantic candy cane decorations from pool noodles. The instructions are based around the hollow pool noodles available in the U.S.A., however you could easily adapt the idea to use the solid pool noodles commonly available in the U.K.

The candy cane is formed by bending one end of the pool noodle into a candy cane shape and then tying the bent end to the body with any kind of clear string. Wrap white ribbon around the noodle to give the candy cane stripe, and secure with pins as you go along.

What a great idea to brighten up your local swimming pool over the festive season!

If you try this project then please upload your photos to our Facebook page. Alternatively we would love to hear any other crafty ideas using pool noodles.