Turtle Pack was created by Michael Harkins, a young swim instructor. Michael believes that by creating a fun and enjoyable swimming aid, he will help more children not only learn to swim but to swim really well while having a great time learning.
Michael graduated with a Master’s degree in Chemistry from Heriot Watt University in 2016. But it was his background and ongoing role teaching swimming lessons as head teacher of one of the most successful swim schools in Scotland, which brought him to pursue his dream business venture: creating a new swimming aid to help children who are learning to swim. As a licensed level two swimming instructor since the age of 18, you could say Michael’s entire adult life has been dedicated to teaching children how to swim. He has taught over 500 children from beginner to advanced level swimming lessons. His club has won numerous awards such as Scottish Swimming ‘Club of the Year’ and SwiMark Plus.
“My passion is teaching children how to swim and I have had the great pleasure of doing this since I was only 15 years old.”
Inspiration to combat movement-restricting swimming aids
Michael’s eureka moment came to him at the Dolphins Swim School, Livingston, one evening in January 2014.
He was watching how children using movement-restricting swimming aids – standard swimming aids such as armbands, noodles and floats – were developing the wrong swimming techniques. Too many children were developing bad habits using these poor swimming aids. This wasted valuable pool time and meant the instructors had to work harder to fix problems with technique.
Michael did not want to stand by while too many children went on lacking the skills to become strong swimmers – he realised that he wanted to take action.
Removing the fear factor
In Michael’s experience, many children find learning to swim quite frightening, and this can be a factor in some children’s ultimate failure to learn. Turtle Pack was designed as a fun and enjoyable swimming aid that will help children overcome their fear and build their confidence both in and out of the swimming pool. It can be easily put on and removed, allowing children to be more independent at the pool. It is comfortable to wear and made of materials which will not erode with frequent use in the swimming pool, and it comes in a super-cool design, which will appeal to children’s imaginations. Turtle Pack encourages children to progress step by step, as the level of buoyancy it provides can be reduced as their skills improve, until they become strong and confident swimmers.
Perfecting technique with progressional swimming aids
Children can struggle with three important skills needed to develop a successful swimming technique, namely:
- Body position
- Balance & control during movement
- Effective kicking
Reflecting on this, Michael set out to invent a progressional swimming aid to solve these problems. However, he wanted it to do more – to capture children’s imaginations and be an attractive, fun companion to learning to swim. An aid which would make swimming lessons fun and engaging, while teaching children one of the most important life skills very effectively.
From idea to concept to production, this award-winning innovation has been making waves in the swimming industry.
Turtle Pack has already gained a huge amount of traction in the media and within the start-up community. Michael is also recognised as one the top young entrepreneurs in the country. Picking up awards has become almost second nature for Michael. Turtle Pack has won the following:
- Scottish Edge
- Wildcard Scottish Edge
- Young Scottish Edge
- Sports Innovation Challenge
- ‘Young Inovator of the Year’ Made in Scotland
“I take pride in teaching children how to swim to a high standard. Using Turtle Pack will make it easier for other swim instructors and parents to do this too.”
Michael aims to reach out to help kids all over the world to learn to swim effectively, without him needing to be there at the poolside!
Turtle Pack will be just as suitable for children already taking swimming lessons as for those who are starting out, trying their first strokes. Whether it is about honing technique to get the correct body position, or giving that little extra confidence while practising swim strokes or just basically keeping children safe as they splash around getting used to the water the first few times in the pool, Turtle Pack will be a child’s best friend in the water, not to mention a parents’ too!
Parents and children who have trialled Turtle Pack have come back full of praise for its functionality and attractiveness. Parents have reported improved confidence and willingness to use the aid and give things a go in the swimming pool. Above all, children find it a fun design and comfortable to wear.
Turtle Pack is set to become the next big thing for children’s swimming lessons, swimming clubs and for family holidays and trips to the local pool.
Michael has also created a fun and friendly mascot, “Tiki” the Turtle, to help reach out to younger kids and give them a character to identify with. You can read more about Tiki on his own special section of our website. You can also find testimonials by parents who have tried Turtle Pack out.
Michael hopes that his product will be able to help children, parents and carers across the world to feel safer, better supported and to have an especially fun experience in the water from day one. We hope you will follow Michael and Tiki on their journey.
(Michael receiving his Scottish Edge Award from Livingston MP, Hannah Bardell)