ABOUT THE SWIM CAP
Recommended for swimmers with medical conditions such as epilepsy, diabetes, heart conditions, autism or visual impairment.
Especially important to wear in busy pools or water parks where lifeguards have difficulty keeping an eye on all swimmers.
White latex swim cap with red cross and wave.
Care: To ensure longevity, rinse out your cap in non-chlorinated water and allow to dry
Price: $10.00 CAD
To purchase your caps, email us at
Caps will be mailed by Canada Post.
Read the story in the St. Catharines Standard!
Listen to NewsTalk Radio interview!
Chelsea and Sierra Spence are two high school students looking to raise awareness and visibility of swimmers with medical conditions that lifeguards need to be aware of.
After growing up with epilepsy and swimming competitively for the majority of her life, it became evident to Sierra and her family that being able to distinguish her within a crowded pool was essential. They often bought bright colored caps so they could quickly pick her out in case of an emergency. Having had three seizures in the pool, unrecognized by lifeguards, this emphasized the need for the Swim Safely Cap.
As a lifeguard, Chelsea provided insight in the design of the swim cap in order to be highly visible and recognizable in the pool. Their goal was for all lifeguards to easily recognize the red cross symbol and the swimmer with potential risk.
Together, Chelsea and Sierra hope that the Swim Safely Cap will be widespread in its adoption so that swimmers in pools across Canada will remain safe.
We work hard to get our efforts noticed by the media and are so proud when this goal comes to fruition. A well informed community is an empowered one as well, so take a look at some of the latest coverage we’ve received below and help spread the word about all the amazing developments at Swim Safely Cap.
ST. CATHARINES STANDARD
August 5, 2019
A safer swim for people with epilepsy
Niagara sisters offering specialized pool cap for swimmers with medical conditions
NEWS Aug 05, 2019 by Gord Howard The St. Catharines Standard
Sierra Spence, left, and her sister Chelsea have designed a latex swim cap they hope will make swimmers with medical conditions more visible in the pool.
Sierra Spence, 18, has epilepsy. Three times while she was a competitive swimmer, she suffered a seizure in the pool and could have drowned.
Each time, it was someone other than a lifeguard who reacted and pulled her to safety.
She and her family aren't blaming the lifeguards, but they do want to make it safer for people with medical conditions to swim.
"I remember being in London, Ont., at a swim meet and how hard it was to keep an eye on her in warmups," says Sierra's mother, Joanne Spence.
She recalls mentioning to a lifeguard that there should be a special swim cap for people with medical conditions so they would stand out in the pool. The lifeguard agreed.
"It seems so simple, but we looked and no one was doing it."
So they Spences are doing it themselves.
Sierra came up with a design, her twin sister Chelsea put together a website and with their parents, Joanne and Derek, the St. Catharines family is offering what they've named the Swim Safely Cap.
They're available for $10 at Brock University and Niagara Children's Centre, or at SwimSafely.org.
"We talked about (copyrighting or trademarking) but the intention for them was just to cover costs," says Derek.
"Even sharing distribution and design, they would readily do that. It's more about getting it out there for safety."
When they swam competitively, Sierra and Chelsea were both ranked among the top 10 in Canada.
They learned to swim when they were toddlers. Sierra was born with epilepsy, though she stopped having seizures when she was about two years old.
They started happening again when she was about 10, by which time she was already an active swimmer.
Some people with epilepsy feel their seizures coming on and can prepare. Not Sierra.
That meant for every practice — and she and Chelsea practiced six times a week for two hours at a time — and every meet, her parents couldn't let her out of their sight.
"Out of all the times Sierra has had seizures in the pool, we've never had a lifeguard jump in to go get her," says Chelsea, a lifeguard herself.
"When there are that many people in the pool for practice — probably 50 people — they can't be watching every person."
Part of the problem is that in competitive swimming, all the swimmers are wearing caps.
And lifeguards are rotated or changed-out frequently, so a swimmer with a medical condition can be lost in the crowd.
They tried different designs for a cap for Sierra, sometimes using the brightest colour they could find, another time one with a red cross on a black background.
After doing some tests, the look they settled on is a white cap with a large red cross and blue wave-like lines on both sides.
"I think the red cross really stands out, especially in the blue water. The red really pops," says Joanne. "And they added the wave to make it a little more cool. It does stand out."
The girls pooled their money to make 100 of the tight-fitting latex caps, and they've sold about 30 so far. When they sell them in person they go for $5; they cost $10 online, but that's to cover shipping costs.
"The opportunity here is way broader, even than just for epilepsy," says Derek. "There are so many people out there who can use the caps."
He says people with autism or others recovering from a coronary incident probably require extra attention in the pool, too.
"And swimming is always recommended as good exercise for those people, it takes a lot of pressure off your joints," says Chelsea.
The sisters still swim, but not competitively. Two and a half years ago, surgeons removed a tumour from Sierra's brain. Since then, she hasn't had any more seizures.
by Gord Howard