When we think of Benjamin Franklin, the first thing that comes to mind is most likely a key, a kite and the miraculous invention of electricity, for which we are eternally grateful. However, a little known fact about that particular Founding Father is that he also founded a bit of fun…and all just at 11 years of age!
Ever pull a set of rubbery flippers on your onto feet in anticipation of snorkeling at its best or just to frolic around in the water? That’s right! The invention of swim fins, also known as swimming flippers, can be attributed to that Franklin fellow too!
Unlike today’s swim flippers which fit nicely on our feet, BF’s (my new BFF BTW) original creation was simply two oval, wooden planks which were approximately ten inches long and six inches wide with holes for the thumbs. The idea was to attach them to the swimmer’s hands in the hopes that when that swimmer submerged them and pulled them back against the water, they would propel the body through the water more powerfully and quickly…and propel they did!
Ben Franklin also attempted to fit his innovative swimming invention to the sole of the feet, but sadly this creative chap was unsatisfied with the results. Fortunately, swim flippers for the feet were eventually invented and Ben Franklin’s role in the process was recognized by an induction into the International Swimming Hall of Fame centuries later in 1968 – a swimming addition!