November 30, 2009

Oodles of Noodles

Go noodle crazy with the latest addition to our website: wholesale pool noodles. Our bargain box is bursting with 46 tubes of soft, flexible, colourful fun pool noodles just waiting to be unleashed.

If you're looking for more fun and games for your pool playtime, swim noodles are a great addition to your collection of pool accessories. Sword fighting, swimming through obstacle courses and horse riding are just a few of the activities you can enjoy. Pool noodles are an easy way to generate good times in the pool.

Noodle sleeves and connectors can be used to create different larger structures out of your pool noodles. You can use a simple sleeve joining opposite ends of a noodle together to make a ring, or there are sleeves with either one or two cross-connectors allowing your imagination to run wild. Use the connectors to make simple rings, a figure of eight, goal posts, an obstacle course, a raft, you decide!

However, if you thought swim noodles were limited to being a fun swimming aid at the pool then think again! Noodles are an inexpensive, multipurpose addition to any school gymnasium which you will not want to be without. Noodles are lightweight which makes some games suitable even for Nursery / Reception children.

Here we have a few ideas to help you on your way to the checkout:

Hold the noodle upright and place a beanbag on top. Challenge the children to move around the room without the flame going out--that is, without the beanbag falling off.

Over/Under Limbo
Hold the noodles out horizontally, then challenge the children to move over or under the noodle in the style of a favourite animal: slither like a snake, crawl like a cat, or hop like a bunny.

And a couple of ideas for older children:

Noodle Soup
Spread a large number of minironis (small noodle pieces about 2 to 3 inches high) in the centre of the gym and split the class into 4 equal teams lined up behind cones facing the centre. Choose two pupils to be “crazy chefs” who must attempt to protect their noodle soup minironis) from the hungry pupils by hitting them with their spoons (longer noodle pieces). Each team sends two players at a time to collect the food in the middle and they may only take one noodle piece at a time. If a “crazy chef” hits a hungry pupil, the pupil must go back to their team without food and let another player go. After a few minutes, pick two new “crazy chefs” and continue the game. See how many pieces of soup each team can collect.

Noodle Volleyball
Give each pupil a Midaroni (half a noodle) and form teams on opposite sides of a net (or floor marker). Using a balloon, the pupils must attempt to strike the balloon up and over the net to the other side. Pupils may not hit the net with the noodle for safety reasons. The activity can be used as a game or for skill development. Add rules to challenge the pupils (i.e. – cannot touch the balloon two times in a row, must use three or less hits to get the balloon over the net, etc.).

Finally we challenge anyone to beat a pool noodle roof park created by a team of architects in New York.

Please submit original playful, creative, problem-solving ideas which you or your children come up with and we will feature them on our website.

November 24, 2009

The 91 Year Old Olympian behind the Kiefer Brand

91 year old Olympian Adolph Kiefer has recently been the subject of a video documentary and has appeared on Chicago WGN Television. He hopes his story will encourage young people to make sports and physical fitness a life long priority.

Adolph Kiefer was born in Chicago in 1918 and learned to swim as the result of a near fatal accident when he fell into a drainage canal. He instinctively rolled over on to his back and kicked his feet and was able to work his way out. That was his first experience of swimming, and it was the backstroke for which he then became famous. Kiefer lost his father when he was 12 but was determined to fulfil his father’s prediction that one day Adolf would be the “best swimmer in the world.” He swam seven days a week and by 15 he became the first man to swim 100 metres backstroke in under one minute.

At the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin he won the gold medal for the 100 metre backstroke. Ultimately Kiefer participated in over 2,000 races in which he only lost twice. Although Kiefer’s Olympic career was limited due to the onset of World War II and the cancellation of the 1940 and 1944 Olympic Games, Kiefer’s life-long journey of promoting water safety, health and fitness was just beginning.

During World War II, he discovered that more lives were lost due to drowning than to bullets and was placed in charge of swimming for the entire Navy. He trained 13,000 Navy swimming instructors, and countless lives were saved using his Victory Backstroke. In 1946, he established Adolph Kiefer & Co. - an aquatic sporting goods store that has been a leader in the development of aquatic products by selling and manufacturing "everything but the water".

His first successful product was the "Kiefer" suit. After WWII the silk shortage caused Kiefer to consider using nylon fabric for swimsuits. They were risqué for the time but were an immediate success improving everyone’s times and offering a lightweight alternative to wool and cotton suits. This revolutionary swimsuit attracted much praise and attention at the 1948 Olympic Games and the design was picked up by Speedo. In 1966 he patented the first “wave-eating” racing lane lines, minimising turbulence in the pool by trapping the wake from swimmers. USA swimming called it one of the top 25 innovations in swimming. In September 2007 the International Swimming Hall of Fame presented Adolf Kiefer with the Gold Medallion Award (their highest honour) during the US Aquatic Sports Convention banquet in Anaheim, CA.

As an additional surprise USA Swimming also presented him with a Gold Medal from the 1936 Olympic Games to replace his own which was stolen shortly after he returned from Berlin. The medal was specially cast from the original mold by the International Olympic Museum in Lausanne, Switzerland.

November 17, 2009

FunSwimShop Snorkel on Big Brother

Earlier this year we were excited to receive a call from the producers of Big Brother 10 asking if we could provide snorkels and flippers for one of the Tasks. We did not know what they would be used for until the show aired.

If you are a Big Brother fan you may remember Marcus and Siavash had to take part in a Task celebrating the annual Welsh ‘World Bog Snorkelling Championship’.  On hearing the trigger song “We’ll Keep A Welcome In The Hillside” performed by The Treorchy Male voice Choir, they had one minute to get to the start point of the bog in the Garden, put on goggles, flippers and a snorkel and then had to snorkel through the bog to the finish point.

Allegedly the Big Brother bog contained fish guts rather than the usual Welsh mud! We decided to find out all about this curious sport!

This event was first held in 1985 and takes place annually every Bank Holiday Monday at Waen Rhydd peat bog just outside Llanwrtyd Wells. Local man Gordon Green devised the bog snorkelling event back in 1976 as a way to put the small mid Wales town on the tourist map.

Bog Snorkeling competitors attempt to complete two consecutive lengths of a 60-yard muddy water-filled trench cut through the peat bog in as short a time as possible. They must wear a snorkel and flippers, and complete the course without using standard swimming strokes. Some competitors are serious and may come long distances to compete. Others do it for the fun and the chance to don fancy dress or wetsuits on a holiday weekend.

Competitors pay £15 to take part in a variety of categories and the organiser Green Events Ltd donates all funds raised to charity.

If you don’t fancy taking part next year then try the next best thing and take the BBC’s online Bog Snorkelling Challenge.

November 08, 2009

Learning to love the water

During a relaxing half-term break swimming in the clear Mediterranean Sea with fish all around me I found myself wishing I had packed a mask, snorkel and flippers.

I should explain, I am by no stretch of the imagination a great swimmer. We have a wonderful team here at Seriously Fun Swimming Schools who provide that kind of expertise. I never really took to swimming as a child, partly because my mother did not like getting her hair wet and partly because my sisters took me for the first time when I was about 9 years old and pushed me into the deep end!

I did eventually learn but as I was short sighted swimming pools were quite a scary place. When I came out of the changing rooms I had to ask friends who were with me to wave their arms frantically and I would stumble towards these pink fuzzy shapes.

However after laser treatment and having my daughter (now 7 years old) it was time to make sure she did not suffer the same fate.

I enrolled her in baby swimming lessons (with Seriously Fun for whom I'm now marketing manager) and made sure I took her by myself as well. Working on the basis that if your child sees you doing something they are more likely to copy you, I donned a pair of swimming goggles, decided is was okay to been seen without make up and threw myself into underwater swimming games playing mermaids!

I was in the pool when she swam front crawl for the first time unaided and it was magical to duck underwater and watch her face. The rest is history and the other evening she swam 400 metres without stopping. I digressed but I wanted to explain my journey to a new found love of water and to even contemplate the thought of putting my face in the sea.

The first step I made seven years ago was to buy a pair of goggles. There is a long way to go but I am proud of myself that I now have fun swimming!

It's never too late to learn

It may be that you are one of the 1 in 5 adults in the UK who can’t swim. Well the good news is it's never too late to learn, there is real amazement to be felt at permanently overcoming your fears and enjoying the relaxation and endorphin kick of being confident in the water.

If you're not convinced it's time to take the plunge then here's ten reasons to make the move:

1. 30 minutes of exercise in the pool is the same as 45 minutes on the land.
2. Goggles, woggles and floats really make learning a much less stressful experience than it may have been in the past.
3. The endorphins your body creates after a swim make you feel fantastic.
4. It is a low impact exercise so your joints don’t take a pounding, but your muscles will benefit.
6. Meet people who are in the same position as you and want to learn too which can help you feel more confident.
7. Encourage the children you spend time with to swim by seeing how confident you are in the water.
8. Try wearing goggles to keep the water out of your eyes and help you see.
9. The resistance of the water helps you to burn up calories faster.
10. You are never too old to learn a new skill.

Sting Rays at Discovery Cove

On a recent trip to Florida, my wife Emily wanted to realise a lifelong dream of swimming with dolphins. We had travelled up to Orlando from Key West but unfortunately, due to a busy schedule had been unable to organise any dolphin swimming in the Keys. A previous trip to Portugal had proved unsuccessful in terms of dolphin spotting so we were determined to find some dolphins for Emily to swim with in Orlando.

After an hour or so on the hotel internet we found the website for Discovery Cove, 'an all-inclusive adventure in which guests enjoy a one-of-a-kind opportunity to swim with dolphins, rays, and tropical fish and hand-feed exotic birds'. Naturally we were excited and booked our spaces, Emily was in for the dolphin swim with me as cheerleader/photographer.

We had a fantastic day at Discovery Cove, they limit the numbers so it doesn't feel crowded and Emily got plenty of time in the water with Flipper. The highlight of the day for me was snorkelling in the tropical reef with southern and cownose rays, 10,000 brilliantly colored tropical fish, barracuda and sharks. They supply masks, snorkels, flippers and life jackets.

History of Speedo

Speedo was founded
in 1914 by hosiery manufacturer Alexander MacRae, who migrated from Scotland to Australia in 1910, as McRae Hosiery Manufacturers, then MacRae Knitting Mills in an effort to expand his company into swimwear.

In 1928, the name Speedo was first adopted after the firm developed its Racerback design of swimwear, making it one of the first manufacturers to specifically produce athletic designs. The name was made up by a Captain Jim Parsons who won a company competition with the slogan "Speed on in your Speedos".

During World War II the manufacturer shifted nearly all of its production to war materials such as mosquito nets. Speedo resumed production after the war and became a publicly traded corporation in 1951. In 1955, Speedo introduced nylon into its fabric for competitive swimwear. The 1956 Summer Olympics in Melbourne saw the widespread debut of the new fabric and the introduction of the style of mens briefs that has become associated with the brand.

The company quickly expanded into the international arena from there until the present, boasting that 70 percent of swimming medals were won by athletes wearing its products in the Olympic Games of 1968, 1972, 1976, and 2008.

Australian Peter Travis was recognised in 2008 for his invention of the Speedo bathing costume — or as the Sydney Morning Herald puts it, for creating the nation's best-loved stretch of nylon. Travis became a Member of the Order of Australia for his Speedo invention. He was also recognised for his work as a designer, sculptor, ceramicist, kite-maker and teacher. Travis invented the skimpy bathing costume while working for Speedo in 1961.

Travis says the crucial thing was to position the briefs on the hips, not the waist. He also cut the fabric on the side of the hips to just 5 cm deep. The report in the Sydney Morning Herald says the costume was an immediate hit, but did not go down well with the prudish. 'Bondi's beach inspector arrested the first man to wear the briefs on the beach, but Travis recalls that the magistrate did not pursue charges, because there was no pubic hair showing.'

During the 1970s and 1980s, new fabrics such as lycra were incorporated into the company's swimwear design. During the late 1990s, the company turned its attention to its Aquablade and Fastskin lines of competitive swimwear. The designs employ new fabrics that the company claims will reduce resistance in the water by replicating biological skin characteristics of various marine animals such as sharks.

In March 2007 in an attempt to appeal to a younger audience, Speedo's collaboration with Japanese brand Comme des Garçons hit UK fashion store Topshop with a collection of classic women's Speedos decorated with quirky Comme des Garçons designs.

Product of the week: Splash About Swim Nappy

So simple and yet so effective, the Spash About Baby Swimming Nappy has no ties, no velcro, no elastic.

The Splash About baby swimming nappy is made of 1mm soft and stretchy neoprene and finished with super soft and snug fitting, deep bands of fabric with high rubber to keep solids inside. The Splash About Happy Nappy is a slimline, very comfortable swim nappy that dramatically reduces the risk of accidents into the pool.

This reusable swim nappy is made from fine 0.5mm neoprene coated in a specially treated nylon which repels liquid, it is edged with wide bands of fine woven nylon/Lycra ribbing at the legs and waist to "filter" liquid and keep as much as possible INSIDE the reusable swim nappy - a liner is advised for ease of cleaning.

November 06, 2009

We FINk you'll love this fantastic swimming aid

The SwimFin burst onto the scene a couple of years back and has proven itself to be a massive hit with kids and swim teachers alike.

SwimFin story started almost twenty years ago. In the late 1980s Kevin Moseley was a self employed swimming instructor. Just for fun, he took a couple of old foam swimming floats and made a fin that could be tied on to his back. At the end of lessons with a group of kids he would put on the fin for a few minutes of play-time to reward the children for their efforts during the session. The kids always enjoyed this time: Kevin would chase the kids around the shallow end of the pool, giving some practical use for the swimming skills the kids had been working on namely, not getting caught by the 'shark' in the water.

That first prototype
SwimFin was the only one of its kind for many years. By chance, Kevin heard that the BBC television show 'Dragon's Den' was looking for participants and so, just out of curiosity, he applied. Kevin, and his new product idea, sailed through the application process, and before he knew it, he was invited to the London studios of the BBC and found himself telling these potential investors, the 'Dragons' about SwimFin. In a few short weeks he had prepared a business plan and a 'defence' of his SwimFin idea strong enough to withstand any attack. It wasn't until Kevin had done this that he realised what a good thing he had. Certain Dragons agreed and offered to invest in SwimFin. This was briefly shown on television, however, as Kevin chose to reject their 50% equity request, the Dragons liked SwimFin so much that they wanted a big piece of the pie, Kevin said a polite 'no thank you' and looked elsewhere. After several meetings with other potential investors who all wanted a 50% stake, Kevin decided to self fund the project himself.

Since then its been an hectic time for Kev Moseley and
SwimFin. The product has been redesigned and improved. Before it could be mass produced, SwimFin had to be rigorously tested to ensure it conforms to world-wide safety standards. Patent protection around the world had to be secured, and the trademark registered.

About (Jonathon Madden)

Email Jonathon
Jonathon Madden: Director - Founder

Jonathon Madden is Director and co-founder of Seriously Fun Direct Ltd, a leading online swimwear and swimming equipment retailer through in the UK and in the USA.

Jonathon has many years experience in the swimming industry providing swimming tuition to babies and children in the UK and USA via Seriously Fun Swimming Schools. Founded in 1990 by Janet Madden, Jonathon continues to run the family business along with his mother Janet and brother Phillip.

Jonathon has a background in media and has been involved with the set-up and development of various sports related companies including soccer schools for children in the UK.