The History of Swim Fins
Mike Davies, now retired, has spent his amazing private lifetime swimming and scuba diving as a hobby, plus making and fabricating products for various industries. His fabricating skills have led him in a variety of directions, not only making the Vampyre Swim Fins, but even to making and developing underwater equipment for James Bond! More of that later...!
The Vampyre Swim Fins first started when Mike retired and needed something to keep him occupied. His previous work designing underwater equipment for Navy, St Johns Ambulance, etc had been all absorbing and he found that putting his feet up was simply not an option! He really doesn’t do that sort of thing.
Mike has always enjoyed the whole world of underwater swimming!
As a kid, in Brighton, Mike and other boys used to clean the windows of the dolphin tank in the (then) Dolphinarium which had a distinct advantage - in fact, this was probably every childhood fantasy - they were able to play games with the dolphins afterwards!
Mike has had a history of making things. After leaving school Mike went to technical college and then began work fabricating precision engineer making parts for Comet Airlines. Then, he went into motor trade, finishing his official working life with 6 apprentices specialising in repairs to the original Mini 1100s.
Mike’s links to making Swim Fins came from his great love of spear fishing. From a young age, Mike was a keen swimmer and when his parents went on holiday after the War to the south of France they returned with a mask and snorkel. This was Mike’s introduction to a lifetime love of underwater sport. As a spear fisherman and diver, he started the first ever spear fishing club in Britain in Brighton, called Brighton Bottomscratchers - a name pinched from an American club. Of the original crew of Bottom Scratchers, here are sadly only two of them left now.
Mike became Team Manager of the UK spearfishing team and it was whilst he was at an International competition that he agreed to started working for the biggest underwater equipment company in italy as their new uk agent. His career as the UK Agent with this company lasted for 45 years.
Mike Davies is 85 now but his love of spear fishing took him around the world. he dived in Sicily, teaming up with some Italian divers, diving for red coral around the islands. The diving partner Carlo Gaspari he was partnered with became an Italian film star with a business on the side making red coral jewellery. Generally, in those days, the Italians would shoot everything that swam or flew, but Carlo is now a total Conservationist. Just one of the many magical places where they used to dive for red coral is a tiny island north of Palermo in Sicily where they dived every year in a competition on the island to look for the lost treasure that had belonged to a Princess of Morocco. One year the English team actually came across the treasure which turned out to be all gold Sovereigns! The island and its surrounding waters is now a Nature Reserve. You cannot now get near the island because there are so many fish including great white sharks which do a great job of keeping people away!
Another original spear fishing contact of, Mike’s runs Steve Alnutt, the Sussex Underwater Facebook Page. (LINK TO ADD) where visitors may view his underwater videos to show people what the underwater world is like off the Sussex coast, which is amazing. He has made a film with the help of the BBC and uses the Swim Fins for his work.
Mike also has links to the Navy where he was working with an underwater design establishment in Weymouth making bits and pieces of equipment some of which were accepted by NATO and most of the Navies around the world - one of which was a very specialised critical depth meter. Mike had to make two different styles for different purposes, i.e. anti magnetic etc for underwater bomb disposal. As a result, he ended up spending six months on the film James Bond kitting out their stunt department and costume department. So look closely next time - and you will see Piers Brosnan and others wearing Mike’s underwater scuba diving equipment!
The Birth of Swim Fins
The Swim Fin has a multitude of applications. It increases your speed and manoevreability in water, so anyone who enjoys wild swimming, sea or river swimming, underwater hockey, scuba diving, snorkelling or simply sculling around in the water, can enjoy using the Swim Fins to help them swim more dynamically - in fact more like a fish!
Mike used to belong to Brighton Swimming Club, where like minded individuals would swim from the beach every day all year round. One of the Associate Members, a lady in the English Underwater Hockey Ladies’ Team asked Mike, because of his background, to design them a fin so they could ’start to win’. So this is how Mike developed a specialist swim fin for people who play underwater hockey.
Mike tried to get hold of the original fins that everyone liked, but unfortunately, they weren’t available, having gone out of production years ago. Mike therefore had to make a pair for her from scratch. He tried to find a British manufacturer but this proved problematic and two years down the line he found a partner in a Chinese company in Hong Kong, who helped him develop his product. They asked him what he wanted, and he sent his designs. Ten days later a parcel arrived with the first prototype fin, which wasn’t quite correct, but almost there, so they played arond with the design a bit more and produced the final design for the fin. Then, what colours would he like? Mike fancied orange because nobody makes orange fins. The first fins or flippers had the material changed, to give the hockey players more power. The final swim fin was a popular product, which finished up selling all over the World; NZ, USA, Israel, Ireland, to name a few. So the Swim Fins story has gone on from there.
Mike is still selling his original Venom fins in orange & green, but now has a new line in production completely. His latest model, the Vampyre Swim Fin, has been redesigned and reengineered for today’s demands, without holes, made in one piece, in either rubber or carbon fibre.
The name ’Vampyre’ came from when Mike was in hospital for four months and every day the Phlebotomy lady came past and took blood from him. He called her ’the Vampire’ as a joke, said the next pair of fins he would make would be called Vampyre after her! When this was done, Mike sent her a leaflet to put up on her noticeboard!
The Vampyre Swim fins have caught on to a whole new generation of underwater swimming and underwater sports enthusiasts.
The older style original fins had two large holes in them, up by the toe, and unfortunately in some cases it was possible to get fingers trapped in them. Underwater hockey is a very physical sport, very busy worldwide with world championships and big competitions, in Prague, NZ etc. The advantage of the new fin is it is all one piece and completely smooth so there is no way to get fingers trapped in it. This is very important for kids when they are learning so Mike therefore designed the new fin especially with safety in mind.
More About Our Swim Fins:
Red Vampyre Swim Fins have been developed for children and those swimmers with lighter kick, in adult and children’s sizes.
The Black Vampyre Swim Fins are for mature advanced swimmers and are also used for surfing, body boarding etc.
Ultimate Vampyre Swim Fin
In addition to the above two designs, Mike has also designed ultimate Vampyre Swim Fin which is now made in carbon fibre - this obviously is more expensive but it is extremely light. The Ultimate Vampyre Swim Fin is for the real enthusiast.
We hope you will enjoy using your Vampyre Swim Fins and Venom Swim Fins. Please look at our selection and make your order, from our shop.