MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — When you think of concussions in sports, you likely think of football, hockey and maybe even soccer.
But swimmers are also ending up in hospitals with head injuries.
Head injuries are happening in the water, whether they’re from bumping into the concrete walls or another swimmer, hitting the diving board or slipping on the deck.
Some Minnesota entrepreneurs are now tackling the problem head-on.
Pool time is typically fun time, but sometimes things get serious.
“I forgot there wasn’t flags there so I went [gestures to show getting hit in the head],” said swimmer Kaden Starcznski. “At first I was like, ‘What just happened?’ And then the pain came and I jumped out of the pool and I started bawling because it hurt so bad.”
Starcznski isn’t the only local swimmer who’s had a concussion in the water.
“It hurt like heck,” said swimmer Maddy Burns.
Maddy and her father, David Burns — who is also a swim coach — got to thinking.
“She had a slight concussion, and I was like, ‘What do I have to do to get you guys to do the backstroke right? Get you a helmet?'” David Burns said.
Swim mom and manufacturing professional Theresa Finn was standing by, and the two put their heads together to protect the heads of others.
It’s called a Hammer Head cap. Finn says her husband helped come up with a design.
“It’s shaped like the human head, so it’s larger in the back and smaller in the front,” Finn said.
They use what they call “honeycomb impact technology.”
“The whole goal is it’s a mission to protect athletes, and we’re starting with swimmers because really there’s a gaping hole in head protection for them,” Finn said.
Just ask Paralympian and St. Kate’s swim coach Justin Zook.
“This is a really unique way to address a problem and meet a large need I think in the sport,” Zook said.
Minnesota-born Olympic gold medalist Tom Malchow is also a fan. He spent his morning joining a photo shoot for the product.
“Swimming’s a huge part of my life and yeah, I am putting my name behind it because, you know, I believe in it,” Malchow said. “I have a 5- and 7-year-old daughter that are both starting to swim, and I want to keep them safe.”
It is a mission to protect their heads, and their fun.
Production is sailing forward, and caps are on pre-sale for the fall.
The founders hope that because this technology is so aerodynamic, it could one day work in sports like baseball, football and hockey.