Our Brand Ambassadors
SOUL CAP is a UK-based and black-owned business founded by Michael Chapman and Toks Ahmed-Salawudeen.
They both grew up without learning to swim, and joined an adult swimming class to learn together. During those classes, they met a woman with afro hair who was struggling with her swimming cap. And that woman became the inspiration for SOUL CAP.
After talking to their friends and family, they realised there wasn’t a solution for swimmers with afro, dreadlock, or any kind of voluminous hair – so they decided to create their own.
“Swimming never felt like a normal thing that the people around us were doing when we were kids,” said Michael Chapman, co-founder of SOUL CAP. “When we were growing up, swimming was never really seen as a black person’s sport. And that meant the kids weren’t chasing it, the parents weren’t encouraging it, and the teachers at school weren’t promoting it.”
“And that’s strange, when you think about it. Learning to swim isn’t just for sport or competition: it’s an essential skill, like climbing or running. So it’s sad to think there are so many adults out there who don’t feel safe or confident in the water – all because they weren’t encouraged to learn when they were younger.”
SOUL CAP has been selling its unique brand of extra-large swimming caps to swimmers of all ages with long and voluminous hair for over three years. They’ve shipped over 30,000 products to countries all over the world, and have appeared in a top ten list by The Independent.
SWiRL Global was co-created by friends Steph Wilson and Rachael Ladd. Steph is a swimming teacher and Autism Swim Approved instructor, and Rachael is a designer. They met via the military as Steph is a Royal Navy veteran and both are military wives.
Both Steph and Rachael are parents to neurodiverse children and often met for coffee (or cocktails!) to talk over the challenges they face as parents. It was over one of these discussions that they came up with the idea for SWiRL; a business with accessibility at its core and a desire to grow a community to advocate, educate and signpost.
One of the biggest challenges they faced was how best to help Rachael’s eldest son in his swimming lessons when he was having sensory issues with some of the equipment used. Biting or tearing at kit like floats is not only costly and damaging; its potentially life threatening if pieces are swallowed.
After talking at length over coffee and spending hours poring over the internet trying to find something to meet their needs, they did what all mums do – they set out to fix the problem themselves!
They’ve created a range of bite-proof covers for swimming floats which are now available on their website and are actively working to develop other new solutions to ensure that swimming is fun, accessible and child-centred.
Nicole Martin is the founder and director of Core Aquatics; a multi-site swim school that helps both children and adults learn to swim in the Derby, Leicester, Loughborough and Nottingham areas. Nicole and 10 of her teachers are Autism Swim Approved and teach across five pools in the East Midlands.
Nicole, like our founder Michael, started her swimming career at age 16 and has since qualified as a lifeguard swimming teacher, pool plant operator, National Pool Lifeguard Trainer Assessor and shortly (post Covid19!) an STA Aquatics Tutor.
As well as being a graduate of the University of Lincoln, Nicole is also a guest lecturer, a committee member of the Nottingham Neptunes Lifesaving charity and teaches National Pool Lifeguard Courses.
“We love Turtle Pack at my swim school! We love the product quality; we love the three shells – they’re very flexible!”