How it all started
After an injury made me retire from team sports I needed a new activity to keep fit. Living in the west of Ireland beside some of Europe’s most unspoilt beaches open water swimming and triathlons had started to become popular and I eventually plucked up the courage to do a triathlon.
I developed a real passion for the sport competing in Ironman competitions, helping to set up two local triathlon clubs and becoming an organiser and marshal for local triathlons and open water swimming events. My wife and three daughters all became outdoor swimmers and triathletes.
The need for a new type of water safety device
My perspective as an organiser of open water swimming events and concern for my family led me to consider the safety aspects of the sport. Like many first time triathletes I found my first open water swim very disconcerting, feeling anxious with so many other swimmers around me. Our club had started using tow buoys but I regularly heard competitive swimmers complaining about their limitations. Having an engineering background I set about thinking how to overcome these limitations in an open water swimming safety device that wouldn’t interfere with a swimmers performance, and the Tekrapod was born.
Over the course of six months I developed 6 prototypes but I set the bar high. I wanted a buoyancy device that is race legal and that doesn’t interfere with your swim stroke. One that wouldn’t chafe on long swims even if you didn’t wear a wet-suit and was visible when you need it, instantly letting others know that you need assistance.
Testing the prototypes I quickly recognised the problem of getting my children to wear any safety device and wondered if making the Tekrapod “cool” through customised designs would encourage people to use them. It worked, we found something that children were enthusiastic to wear and that gave me peace of mind that they would have something that kept them safe.
What’s in a name
You may be wondering where the name came from. I was reading a book by Neil Shubin called “Your Inner Fish” which tells the story of his discovery of “Tiktaalik” one of the very first transitional creatures who first ventured onto land, also known as Tetrapods. Well I simply changed the “t” to a “k” and came up with “Tekrapod”.
Having caught the invention bug I started recognising other areas where safety devices could be improved. I noticed that there wasn’t any rechargeable waterproof light on the market which I see as a key addition to the Tekrapod. This was a greater challenge than I initially expected but I assembled a team of experts and we now have a prototype available.
Looking forward my aim is to develop the best possible open water safety devices for anyone who ventures into or close to open water (and possibly for other sports too). Our goal is to design products that won’t affect your performance and people will be excited to use.
Ultimately I hope that one day we will view safety devices like the Tekrapod as essential to swimming in the same way as cycle helmets have become to cyclists.