The Torpo® swimming kickboard is the creation of Wiltshire UK entrepreneur Martin Cook. Martin has been a qualified swimming teacher for over 10 years. Martin taught at his local swimming club, Melksham Amateur Swimming Club (MASC) without reward for most of that time while his two boys trained at the club. During those years Martin devised the idea for a new type of kickboard. The idea for Torpo® was formed.
Martin has been a professional pilot for over 30 years, initially serving in the Royal Air Force for 16 years, followed by a flying career with a commercial airline. A passion for aerodynamics was gained whilst working at the UK’s Test Pilot base at Boscombe Down. This understanding of aerodynamics and hence hydrodynamics was applied to swimming teaching which helped create the shape of Torpo®, particularly the need for perfect lateral instability whilst minimising form drag in a kickboard.
Torpo® has taken over 3 years in the development and testing phase. Much of this work has been done in the UK, mostly around Bath. Martin gathered a team of experts in their fields to help produce Torpo® and start the company. Prototypes were cut out of various foam materials and moulds made. Various factory visits in the UK and in Italy gave an understanding of what was possible. The production of a solid foam kickboard the size and shape of Torpo® challenged even the most experienced manufacturers in this field.
Meanwhile, testing was done in local pools and by various adults and children, including some elite swimmers and coaches. This feedback encouraged Martin to go ahead with production. Setting up a sports company to introduce products which challenge decades of thinking and practice in swimming has been challenging; convincing swimmers and coaches to progress from using similar techniques and kickboards into a more scientific way of training. But the goal of improving swimmers wolrdwide through using Torpo®, whilst supporting underprivileged swimming teaching and the removal of plastics from the oceans is what drives this development forward.
The Science of Swimming
The flagship launch product, the Torpo® kickboard, will be available in adult and junior versions helping a generation of swimmers to learn to kick in a natural way akin to the swimming stroke. The revolutionary new kickboard is unstable in rotation yet stable, balanced and streamlined in profile, promoting swimming stroke development in a way previously not possible with traditional ‘flat’ kickboards.
Torpo® uses the same theory as modern jet fighter aircraft. The Torpo® kickboard is designed to be perfectly unstable in roll, but unlike fighter aircraft using computers to generate stability, the swimmer has to use core strength and coordination whilst kick training which will benefit the full freestyle stroke. Like fighter aircraft it has low resistance due to its low coefficient of drag yet with longitudinal stability. This means it is also excellent for kick training in breast, fly and back strokes.