The Sport Diver Test Team juniors trial a kid’s monofin, and a round up of test-team silliness over the past 18 years.
MARK EVANS: California-based Linden Wolbert has an unsusual profession - among other things, this highly talented freediver is a professional mermaid. Now her purpose-built, custom-made tail cost several thousand dollars, but she has utilised all of her experience with a variety of monofins to team up with Bodyglove and create a little monofin especially for children that is essentially a dinky version of full-blown adult versions. Linden, who presents the Mermaid Minute educational videos on Youtube and other channels, is a passionate advocate for getting more youngsters involved in the sea, be it through diving, snorkelling, swimming, conservation or a blend of them all, and so being able to get a monofin that has all the performance characteristics of an adult monofin on to the market was a dream come true. She said: “By teaming up with Bodyglove, I have been able to create a monofin that is perfect for all my little Mermen and Mermaids.” The large plastic blade has high-efficiency water channels for added control, and rubber supports down either side, which not only help with the performance but also cover any sharp plastic edges. The super-soft foot pockets have quick-adjusting Velcro straps which can be released easily and efficiently, in the event the child needs to remove it in an emergency situation. The Monofin fits US shoe size 1-4 (and Junior 7-13 with the included soft foam inserts inside the foot pockets). The age recommendation is for ages four and upwards, and I know of several smaller women who can easily fit their feet into this monofin. To test dive this monofin, I drafted in my son Luke, who has been snorkelling since he was four and has completed his Bubblemaker and SEAL Team programmes with PADI. I knew that he had the dolphin undulation movement down pat after seeing him demonstrate it in his swimming lessons, so I told him to maintain the same movement while wearing the monofin, just at a slower pace. His first couple of runs were along the surface, and he was splashing move than getting any propulsion, but once I explained he’d be better in mid-water, he started to come on in leaps and bounds. Within literally five minutes of donning the monofin for the first time ever, he was easily swimming 15 metres plus. As you can see from the photographs, he was very comfortable using the monofin, and even flashed me a cheeky grin as he glided past on one particularly long run.
I asked him what he thought of the monofin once we were done for the day, and he replied: “It’s awesome! I can get loads of power and it didn’t feel like I was trying that hard compared with a dolphin kick with no fin on. I can’t wait to try it out in the sea and go swimming with the fish and other animals.” In the interests of making the testing more robust, we also got one of Luke’s classmates, Isobel Gray, to trial the monofin. She is a confident, proficient swimmer, though she had not really done much snorkelling, but within a matter of minutes she was happily gliding smoothly a good 10-12 metres through mid-water using the monofin and looked very comfortable. Asked what she thought, Isobel said: “The monofin was lightweight and very easy to fit. I loved it because you went really fast and you didn’t actually need to kick that hard - it felt like you were gliding through the water.” www.bodyglove.com