Monday, December 13, 2021

Scots Entrepreneur Set to Make a Splash with TMNT-Inspired Swim Aid

Scotland-based Michael Harkins was a swimming teacher who took to inventing his own teaching aids when he couldn't find the right equipment to help youngsters develop their skills in the pool.

Cowabunga! Turtle Pack founder Michael Harkins invented his own swim aid. Picture: Jeff Holmes.

It led to him developing the Turtle Pack and now the product creator could be set to expand in American with a new range based on four Turtley Awesome green superheroes.

The 28-year-old entrepreneur and his company Turtle Pack have joined forces with entertainment brand Nickelodeon, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (TMNT) and ViacomCBS Consumer Products to launch a new swimming aid.

While the new product will provide in-pool support like the award-winning original, it will also give kids the chance to play dress-up as Raphael, Michelangelo, Donatello or Leonardo while swimming.

Mr. Harkins created the original Turtle Pack Swimming Aid – a turtle-shell shaped float which keeps the child’s arms free to learn proper swimming technique – whilst still at university.

Turtle Pack founder Michael Harkins invented his own swim aid. Picture Jeff Holmes.

Now, a new Ninja Turtles-themed swim float is expected to be hit both in the US and UK.

“Having become a parent for the first time earlier this year, this deal is a ‘dream come true,’" Mr. Harkins told The Herald in Scotland.

“I’ve loved Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles since I was a wee boy and it really feels like we’ve come full circle with this new product.

“As a swimming teacher and now a new parent, I hope the connection with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles will encourage more young children to enjoy spending time in the pool and having fun while learning a lifelong skill for both their future health and safety, especially as so many children have missed out on lessons due to the pandemic.”

The deal will help Turtle Pack, which has already sold thousands of its original product, make a splash on both sides of the Atlantic as it taps into the growing trend of nostalgia. The appeal of Ninja Turtles spans generations, with many of the first TMNT fans now parents.

Michael Harkins hopes for success in the US with Ninja Turtles inspired swim aid. Picture: Harkins with the Heroes in a Half Shell at Nickelodeon Land in Blackpool. Credit: Stephen Lee.

Experts have warned against a ‘lost generation’ of swimmers due to more than one million children missing out on swimming lessons throughout the past year due to COVID-19 restrictions. Designed to address the huge numbers of children in the UK unable to swim by the time they leave primary school, it’s hoped the new TMNT Turtle Pack design will encourage even more children into the pool.

Among Turtle Pack’s fans is Sir Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group, whose grandchildren learned to swim using the original Turtle Pack Swimming Aid.

Mr Harkins was supported by Heriot-Watt University’s enterprise team, including entrepreneurial training through the Santander Universities Initiative. He was awarded one of the highest cash awards of £110,000 from Scottish EDGE and was a Royal Society of Edinburgh Enterprise Fellow.

To find out more about the Turtle Pack, visit COWABUNGA!

From ToyNews:

Turtle Pack to the rescue as study reveals that millions of UK kids can’t swim

Turtle Pack, the makers of a revolutionary turtle-shell shaped swimming aid, have teamed up with Nickelodeon and the “heroes in a half-shell” to launch a limited-edition Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles version of their award-winning float.

The product has been released amid fears more than 3.4 million children aged between 7 and 11 in England can’t perform even the most basic swimming strokes.

This is according to a recent study by Swim England which found that nine in ten children can’t swim or tread water for 30 seconds.

Leading UK swimming expert Lynn Goring-Crook says: “The figures are shocking to say the least. Learning to swim is a vital life skill that needs to be prioritised. Government, national governing bodies such as the Swimming Teachers Association (STA) and Swim England, schools and parents need to work more collaboratively to ensure kids are excited to learn to swim and have easier access to lessons.”

The study finds that the crisis has been attributed to a “perfect storm” caused by the rising price of private lessons combined with a hangover from pool closures during the pandemic.

Turtle Pack founder Michael Harkins believes the product could help to tackle the emerging crisis of the growing numbers of children who aren’t comfortable in the water.

The swimming teacher turned inventor, from Livingston, Scotland, says: “We are at risk of having a generation of children who can’t swim.

“Pools have closed and the price of private lessons is increasing – we’re facing a crisis. That’s why it’s our mission to provide a solution that helps children to be as active and safe as possible – whilst having fun. I’m excited that we now have back-up from Michelangelo, Donatello, Raphael and Leonardo!

“The swimming aid makes it far easier for children to learn proper technique in the pool, without being forced towards the water. Exercising in the water can bring huge physical and mental health benefits. I want as many children to be able to access this as possible.

“The TMNT tie-in adds a new dimension to Turtle Pack, and by adding play to learning to swim we can encourage more youngsters into the pool and ensure future generations are safer in the water.”

The new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Swim Float is made of soft yet durable EVA foam, which gives children above the age of two buoyancy support in the pool.

The original Turtle Pack has become increasingly popular with parents, as it allows children to keep their arms free so they can learn proper technique and swim more naturally than they could with armbands or pool noodles.

The unique TMNT design, which includes a neoprene vest that acts like a wetsuit to keep little ones warm, allows children to dress up as their favourite TMNT character and engage in active, imaginative play both in and out of the water.

Loved all over the world, the appeal of the superhero quartet spans generations, with many of the first fans now parents. The product received a spike in pre-orders after it was shared on social media by Kevin Eastman, co-creator of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Kevin said, ““I’m stoked to see that the Turtles will be helping kids learn such an important life skill. Everyone should learn to swim!”

The new TMNT-themed Swim Float is available for £39.99 / $54.99 at


Originally published: September 21, 2021.

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