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Your first snorkelling guide?

DRW

Vintage snorkeller
Jan 5, 2007
280
113
133
Finally, we snorkellers have our own forum here on Deeper Blue and I for one intend to make the most of the opportunity. I have snorkelled here in the UK and abroad in continental Europe and North America since the late 1950s, never experiencing the desire along the way to venture into either freediving or scuba diving.

Snorkelling is an ideal pastime for me because of its spontaneity. I used to visit my brother in the Upper Midwest of the USA every summer, taking in a brief side-trip each time during my stay. One year I found myself in the coastal resort of La Jolla north of San Diego in California. While walking along the seafront, I passed the famous La Jolla Cove with its scores of snorkellers swimming among shoals of colourful fish. There was a store nearby where I was able to purchase a mask, a snorkel and a pair of simple full-foot rubber fins. Within the hour, I was enjoying myself in the cool waters of the Pacific Ocean alongside many other likeminded snorkellers, both young and old.

But I digress. During the 1950s, I was a perpetual non-swimmer in a school with its own swimming pool. The swimming teacher had us half the time holding on to the side of the pool, kicking vigorously, and the other half trying to cross the pool, holding kickboards while trying to push ourselves off the bottom. None of this worked for me and I inevitably ended up choking with mouthfuls of chlorine water. My parents chanced to provide me with a copy of "The Seventh Eagle Annual", which was an absorbing read for boys back in 1957. It contained what was for me an enthralling article entitled "Teach yourself to swim underwater". After reading it, I was completely smitten and I asked my parents whether I could have some fins to help me learn how to swim on the surface and later underwater. They duly bought me a pair and shod with those fins, my legs delivered sufficient power for me to push myself off the bottom of the pool and to complete my first "breadth". Having achieved this, I soon mastered swimming without fins. Before long, I complemented my fins with a Typhoon mask and snorkel, the same make as the masks and snorkel illustrated in the article. And the rest, as they say, is history.

The illustrated "Teach yourself to swim underwater" article by Graham Pearce in "The Seventh Eagle Annual" of 1957 that propelled me all those years ago into the wonderful world of snorkelling can be viewed below. I wonder whether any of you can similarly trace your own snorkelling beginnings back to a particular "how-to" article or book?
Teaching_yourself_to_swim_underwater_1.jpg

Teaching_yourself_to_swim_underwater_2.jpg

Teaching_yourself_to_swim_underwater_3.jpg
Teaching_yourself_to_swim_underwater_3.jpg
 
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Mr. X

Forum Mentor
Staff member
Forum Mentor
Jul 14, 2005
8,197
1,670
418
I had a inspiring book too, I forget the name of the series (could it be I-Spy? Maybe not). It was about half height (I e "landscape mode), softback and inexpensive. Like yours, it had just enough information to get you started and inspired. I think it was produced with the British Sub Aqua Club. I no longer have the book unfortunately.

I too started with Typhoon gear and still morn the loss of my old 70s Typhoon snorkel in extremis a few years ago. I've tried many snorkels since but none as good as that one.
 
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Mr. X

Forum Mentor
Staff member
Forum Mentor
Jul 14, 2005
8,197
1,670
418
I too remember learning to swim much like you - in the UK in the late 60s/ early 70 - taught by a teacher who could not herself swim and it set me back years :( I eventually became a decent swimmer as an adult ( mainly by NOT kicking hard!) and eventually raced in maybe 20 triathlons in the USA.

The way they taught swimming at school back then was particularly ineffective but my brother joined the local swim club and became quite good
 
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DRW

Vintage snorkeller
Jan 5, 2007
280
113
133
I had a inspiring book too, I forget the name of the series (could it be I-Spy? Maybe not). It was about half height (I e "landscape mode), softback and inexpensive. Like yours, it had just enough information to get you started and inspired. I think it was produced with the British Sub Aqua Club. I no longer have the book unfortunately.

I too started with Typhoon gear and still morn the loss of my old 70s Typhoon snorkel in extremis a few years ago. I've tried many snorkels since but none as good as that one.
Perhaps Underwater Swimming in the E. P. Publishing Know the game series (1974 New Edition front cover below)?
Know_the_game.jpg

I collect old underwater swimming gear, amassing in the process a small collection of 1950s/1960s Typhoon equipment. I have since posted several images of my vintage Typhoon stuff on a section of the Typhoon International Facebook presence dedicated to the firm's history at Typhoonthrowback. One of the sets of pictures I uploaded there shows my Typhoon T1 breathing tube with splash cap, the then equivalent of a modern "semi-dry" snorkel. Image 1 below showcases my Typhoon breathing tube. Its J-shaped aluminium barrel is fitted with a cap valve at the upper end, a mouthpiece at the lower end and a keeper in the middle through which the headstrap of a diving mask may be threaded. This classic snorkel appeared in all Typhoon product lists between 1955 and 1970. Its rubber cap valve is designed to do what the plastic splashguard of a modern "semi-dry" snorkel does; both are meant to keep splashing water out of the tube on the surface while allowing water to enter when submerged.
209611469_1423831488016675_4722471441127611651_n.jpg

Image 2 below has close-ups of the cap valve of the Typhoon T1 breathing tube. Starting from the left, the first shows the outside of the valve fitted to the top of the snorkel; note the loose-fitting base of the valve, which is the air entry and exit point. The second shows the tops of the valve and the tube after disassembly; note the holes punched on either side of the aluminium alloy tube, which is where the inhaled and exhaled air enters and exits the tube. The third shows the inside of the valve; note the round "protuberance" at the bottom, which fits inside the opening at the top of the tube, serving as a watertight seal for the tube opening and an anchor for the valve. When fitted, therefore, the cap valve prevents water from entering the top opening of the snorkel on the surface, while the loose-fitting base of the valve allows air in, out and through those holes punched into the sides of the tube within the valve.
210197766_1423831601349997_7184687370018938944_n.jpg

Image 3 below is from the October 1954 number of "Neptune", the second-oldest issue of the British Sub-Aqua Club magazine. It shows a T1 breathing tube in use underwater with air bubbles emerging from the loose-fitting base of the cap valve.
210043487_1423831674683323_9036837448785517734_n.jpg

Back in the 1950s and 1960s, Typhoon underwater swimming catalogues and price lists were named Skinner's handbook for skin divers after the original company E. T. Skinner & Co. Ltd. Four scanned Typhoon catalogues from the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s can be viewed at Typhoon catalogues.
 
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