Buoyancy Master Class- Float Jacket and Float Suit
Posted on 15th June 2015
The original Floatsuits were invented in 1986, followed by the Float Jacket in 1988 (by the founders of Splash About) Both products were developed as real alternatives to the commonplace arm bands and swim rings. Whilst these had been used to aid children in swim lessons and in pool play for many years they didn’t really offer the user a natural sense of water buoyancy.
Cheap and easy to use swim rings and armbands became a family norm on day trips to public pools and water parks. Because they were inflatable they were also easy to cart about. The real problem was the lack of robustness (cheap inflatable materials didn’t last) and they didn’t help a child learn to swim, they simply helped them not to sink! There was also a real danger especially with swim rings of children slipping out or tipping over.
The introduction of the Floatsuit and its Float Jacket partner meant that for the first time buoyancy could be easily adjusted to fit the individual child and because the floats were held close to the core of the body, the child was placed in the correct and natural position to swim with the additional benefit of freedom of arm movement. This was a revolution that transformed thinking about how to teach children to swim.
Float Jackets were hugely successful, with 16 adjustable floats, chunky reliable zips and manufactured from robust and comfortable neoprene. Parents quickly caught onto the safety aspect of the products and the advantages they brought. Today, thousands of children and adults all over the world learn to swim in a Splash About Float Jacket, by feeling secure in the water and comfortably placed in the correct learn to swim position the float jacket is a huge success.
Floatsuits have grown in popularity especially among the younger toddler market; the floats are an integral part of the fabric of the costume. Once it’s on toddlers are considerably safer around pools and open water. Again the adjustable floats are evenly spaced around the core of the child providing buoyancy, as they need it and leaving the arms free to move naturally in the water. Recent developments at Splash About have now seen this floatation system incorporated into UV sun suits, which has the added benefit of offering UPF50+ protection against the sun as well as being a swim aid.
It’s not a life jacket
Life jackets and life preservers are specialist life saving products and wouldn’t ever be used as a learn to swim aid, it’s the same with Float Jackets and suits, they are made to help learn to swim and not as a life jacket to wear on a boat or when engaging in water sport activity. Please be aware that as with all swim aids, children should never be left unsupervised by water, that includes paddling by the shore. It only takes a few seconds for something to go wrong.
How to get the best out of your float jacket or Float suit.
The first thing to do when you receive your new product is to take ALL the floats out! Yes, take them all out. Amazingly some children (and adults) are more buoyant than others and these products are designed to give your child “just enough” buoyancy. Too much and they may tip forward or backward in the water, or sit too high which will also cause them to tip.
Add the floats back into their pockets equally a few at a time, front and back and at each side, get in the water with your child and test their buoyancy, they should be able to hold their heads above the water whilst their body is submerged. You may find that you need only a quarter or half of the floats and that’s fine, everyone is different. Add enough floats evenly into the pockets of the float jacket or float suit, until you feel your child is comfortably positioned. Hold your child’s hands whilst standing in front facing them and gently begin to encourage them to kick their legs as this assists them in finding their balance, after a generous amount of time in the water let go of their hands for short periods, if they start to sink add more floats! But just a few, don’t over compensate and add too many. Floating will come naturally as they learn to kick their legs and start to move their arms.
At first just enjoy the freedom your child now has, help them to get used to the new sensations of floating in the water, play games, splash faces and generally have fun. As they begin to learn how to move their arms it’s a good idea to teach them how to float on their back and how to swim on their sides. The float jacket and suit are unique in that they give equally buoyancy all round allowing these important first swim positions to be taught.
Over a few sessions or when you feel your child is making sufficient progress begin to remove the floats, again you need to do this equally so that buoyancy is spread around the core of the child. Eventually your child will be swimming without additional buoyancy and floating independently. They are Swimming! If you haven’t already now is a great time to enroll in organized swim lessons. We have a link to lots near you on our website here.
16 piece Float Jackets and suits
These top of the range products are the ultimate in flexibility allowing you to perfectly adjust the buoyancy of your child in half float steps.
8 piece Go Splash Float Jacket
This entry level Float Jacket is designed with ease in mind, newly developed this year to have only 8 full sized, floats it is also printed on the inside with instruction as to what floats to remove in order to give the greatest balanced buoyancy.
Splash About Floatation
Our float jackets and suits are manufactured to our exacting specifications. Each jacket is crafted using hard wearing 3mm super soft neoprene, chunky and robust YKK Zips, soft ribbing to avoid chaffing and industrial stitching for extra strength. Our floats are made from one solid piece of foam and we never use off cuts of foam or glue in our floats, as these can degrade over time making the product unsafe.
All our suits are manufactured using UPF50+ fabrics to protect against the harmful rays of the sun and have the same float and stitch quality as our jackets.
What to watch for.
Sometimes babies and young children are just not ready for this sort of floatation devise, which is why we start our sizes at 1 year. Please remember younger babies may not have the strength to balance themselves and need to be able to hold their heads up and be able to sit up, before you attempt to use either the jacket or the float suit.
This also applies to children and toddlers with disabilities who need a bit more support. Even then sometimes toddlers need more time to understand their own balance on dry land before attempting it in water. So if your child is tipping forwards or backwards and you have used the float system correctly, we suggest you leave it for now and try again in a few weeks or a month. Don’t worry you will get there in the end.
Looking after your product.
Remember salt, sun and chlorine can all degrade fabrics no matter how robust they are. It is important to look after the float jackets and float suits by simply rinsing thoroughly in cold water and then leaving to dry , out of direct sunlight. Your product is also great for protecting against sand burn and helping to keep warm on windy beaches, but remember sand in zips can cause them to break so make sure you shake out your jacket at the end of the day.
Never put the float jacket in a washing machine as the detergent and hot water can quickly damage and degrade the neoprene, the suit can be washed on a warm setting but do not add fabric softener as again this can damage the UPF50+ coating.
Just have fun
Sometimes learning to swim is just hard work, what comes easily to one child can take much longer with another. But be patient and don’t give up. Learning to swim is one of the most important things you can ever teach a child. And, if you are an adult who didn’t learnt to swim as a child, it’s never to late. We manufacture our Float Jacket to adult size to help non-swimming adults get in the water! There is a reason we do this, it’s because of the demand, we get hundreds of letters and emails each year from parents worried that they can’t help their children. There are a vast variety of adult swim lessons available get in touch with the ASA and let them put you in touch with an instructor in your area.