Strange Moments In Swim Fin History…
By Dan Dobbin.
Are you old enough to remember the Cold War era? The Russian bear and the American eagle facing off through proxy conflicts around the world. Espionage, intrigue, the imminent threat of death by nuclear weapon held at bay an understanding of “Mutually Assured Destruction”?
As a child of the 80’s it mostly manifested itself in the for me as seeing the Russians as the bad guys in whatever latest action film was doing the rounds. I vaguely remember the fall of the Berlin wall being televised.
Mikhail Gorbachev’s raspberry birthmark on his noggin.
Ronald Ray Gun.
Drunk Boris Yeltsin.
If you do remember all this, you’ve also probably been around long enough to know the story of how our most iconic of iconic swim fins, the Churchill came to be.
1932 Olympic Yacht Racing Gold medalist Owen Chuchill once observed Tahitian divers attaching woven palm leaves or strips of soft rubber shaped like fish tails to their feet to help them traverse the oceanscape.
Churchil adopted the idea and patented the rubber swim fin. While not initially successful, Churchill’s first big customer were the British Commando’s who kitted out their “frogmen” with them to use during World War 2. American Commando’s soon followed suit and Churchill had his break.
After WW2 ended and the Cold War commenced, the legend goes that a Russian operative in the U.S. got his hands on a pair of Churchills, but couldn’t keep them. He was however able to describe the design well enough that the Russians were able to begin production on their own version of the Churchill design.
The “Model 1” was manufactured in the Mosrezina plant, which is a combination of the first three letters of the Russian work for Moscow ( Moskva) and “Rezina” meaning rubber.
Like the Churchill’s manufactured during the WW2 they were Green in colour. Being made originally of foam rubber, they didn’t sink when lost, which differed from the original Churchill fins the British and American’s had employed.
So collectors of ye olde stuff out there in the bodyboarding realm, here’s another Unicorn for you to chase.