Courtesy of SwimOutlet, a SwimSwam partner.
SwimOutlet, the world’s leading online swim destination, is pleased to be the exclusive online swim retailer in the US for SOUL CAP, the UK-based, Black-owned specialist swimming brand offering an inclusive range of larger swim caps specifically designed for different hair types and lengths. Since their launch in 2017, SOUL CAP has been on a mission to make ‘swim for all,’ building an inclusive and accessible community, and helping over 120,000 swimmers ‘find their fit.’
“Our inclusive swim caps are just the start,” says SOUL CAP co-founder Toks Ahmed. “Our mission at SOUL CAP is about building confidence in the water, breaking down social barriers and speaking up for every swimmer and learner who wants to achieve more.”
As a brand dedicated to community, diversity and inclusivity themselves, SwimOutlet was a natural partner to launch SOUL CAP in the US market.
“We champion everything that SOUL CAP has done for the sport and the voice they’ve given swimmers of all colors and backgrounds. We’re pleased to partner with them for their launch in the US market and help highlight their mission to make ‘swim for all,’” said Stacy Krohn, Senior Category Manager, Performance Swim at SwimOutlet.
When it comes to the world of swimming, stereotypes have long-surrounded the black community. In fact, according to the USA Swimming Foundation, 64% of Black children do not know how to swim, compared to 40% of white American children.It’s within these figures that SOUL CAP’s origin story begins. Discouraged from participating due to lack of Black representation in the sport paired with a tenuous relationship between Black individuals and the water that goes back to the era of segregation, Ahmed and co-founder Michael Chapman grew up never learning how to swim. Yet in 2017 at 28 years of age, the two began taking adult swimming lessons. After encountering a woman at their local pool with Afro-hair struggling with the size of her swim cap, the pair realized that she was not alone – their moms, sisters and friends had all experienced the same challenge, trying to fit their hair into a swimming cap designed as ‘one-size-fits-all.
’“It’s a design decision that perpetuates these cultural stereotypes,” says Michael. “It’s another barrier which predominantly impacts Black people and predominantly women with longer or thicker hair.”
Launching SOUL CAP later that same year, the pair describes their brand as “hair care for the volume-blessed,” offering swim caps created with an extra-large silicone covering, designed specifically to protect dreadlocks, weaves, hair extensions, braids, and thick and curly hair. Since launch, the brand has shipped more than 30,000 caps to swimmers around the world and partnered with a number of charitable foundations, working to broaden access to aquatic sports. See more about the SOUL CAP story here.
“We’re changing the narrative on a life-saving skill that brings so much joy to so many people – and creating a place for every person who wants to get involved,” says Michael.
As part of the exclusive launch, SOUL CAP and SwimOutlet are proud to partner with Tankproof, donating a portion of the proceeds of all SOUL CAP orders to support their work. Tankproof is a nonprofit dedicated to supporting youth in under-served communities by providing access to community, education and the essentials needed to navigate life’s currents. From quality swim instruction to feeding hundreds on their neighborhood food routes, Tankproof believes that swimming is a vital life skill and should be available to all regardless of income or background, helping to make communities safer and save countless lives.
“In the decade that we’ve been doing this, one of the biggest barriers we’ve seen for Black girls is that they don’t want to get their hair wet, whether that’s due to the chlorine drying out their hair or the time it takes to get their hair back to its natural state,” says Thurman Thomas, co-founder of Tankproof. “SOUL CAP is a direct solution to the problem that so many generations of women have experienced. It’s something that’s essential for these young women to encourage them to enter the space of aquatics.”
Founded in 2000 and headquartered in Campbell, CA, SwimOutlet.com is the premier online destination for aquatics apparel and the web’s most popular swim shop. Since its inception, SwimOutlet.com has expanded into virtually every activity that takes place in and around water, becoming the largest online specialty store for aquatics in North America. Featuring the broadest selection of performance swimwear and apparel at the best prices, SwimOutlet.com has also been recognized in the industry for its superior customer service and team sales offering, as well as best-in-class shipping.