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Four years after launching, SOUL CAP has successfully filled the niche at the cross section of Black swimmers and those who wear braids, locs or natural Afro hair.


SOUL CAP


The young entrepreneurs’ journey began after they both joined an adult swimming class in 2017 to learn together after growing up without knowing how to swim. During those classes, they met a woman with Afro hair who was struggling with the tight fit of her swimming cap.
After talking to their friends and family, they realised there wasn’t a solution for swimmers with Afro hair, locs, braids or any kind of voluminous hair – so they decided to create their own and SOUL CAP was born.

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Today, the brand enjoys soaring sales and international recognition, however, their journey has not been without challenges. SOUL CAP was recently at the centre of an international debate on the broader issues of racism in international sport and measures prohibiting Black athletes from competing on a level playing field at the Olympics.
SOUL CAPAmbassador and Olympian: Alice Dearing wearing SOUL CAP
In 2020, SOUL CAP was delighted to announce their partnership with Alice Dearing, who qualified for the Olympic Games in Tokyo – making her the first Black woman to swim for Great Britain.  The partnership has driven to the forefront conversations through campaigns such as #BlackGirlsDontSwim – a worldwide drive calling out for the experiences of Black girls and women who have dealt with barriers to the sport, from their struggles with haircare to the racial stereotypes they’ve had to encounter.

“Growing up, I was blessed to have had so much support as I worked my way up to swimming for Great Britain,” said Dearing. “But I know that swimming as a sport hasn’t always been accessible to people from minority communities. Increasing diversity in the water is a huge passion of mine – and with SOUL CAP, we are breaking those barriers together.”

Shortly after Dearing qualified for the Tokyo Olympics, the cap was rejected by the International Swimming Federation (Fina).  Accusations of racial discrimination quickly gained momentum in the sporting community, with Fina claiming that the cap did not fit “the natural form of the head”.
The Federation has since softened its position on the use of SOUL CAPs in competition and at the time of writing was reviewing the situation and similar products in the spirit of inclusivity and representation.  Ironically, Soul Cap Founders created the product so that Black swimmers – which research shows make up only 2% of swimmers in England – would not have to choose between the sport and their hair because traditional swim caps didn’t fit and were uncomfortable.

Grassroots work

SOUL CAP’s advocacy for diversity in aquatics starts from the ground up, working with grassroots organisations like Empowered Swimming and TankProof, who provide free swimming education to disadvantaged communities, as well as access to swimwear that fits through SOUL CAP. And they are only just getting started. They are on a mission to make swimming accessible for everyone, making their tagline #SwimForAll a reality through their extended product line and through driving necessary conversations.
The brand is passionate about helping to normalise the habit of adults learning to swim. They’re addressing the pressures of poolside body image, exploring the financial accessibility of pools for different communities – and also spotlighting the many mental health benefits that swimming brings, especially for those with neurodiverse conditions such as Autism and ADHD.
In a move that could be seen by some as an olive branch, Fina has not restricted the use of SOUL CAP products in its development centres.

SOUL CAP

In response, SOUL CAP called Fina’s review of the situation a positive step; especially the reconsidering of the swim cap as part of their ‘wider initiatives aimed at ensuring there are no barriers to participation in swimming’. A company statement goes on to say:
“Our hope is that these wider initiatives mentioned will engage with and support grassroots organisations that advocate for and deliver swim education to underrepresented communities. We would not have got to this point without voices like these in the community supporting us, we hope it’s recognised that they’re integral in creating effective and lasting change.”

Source: https://melanmag.com/2021/07/25/swimming-is-for-everyone-soul-cap-founders-swim-hats-for-black-hair/
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BLACKS CAN’T SWIM THE SEQUEL was released on Digital Platforms 10th May 2021.


Short Synopsis: Layla and K-Frost, from a South London council estate, need to swim to open up new life opportunities. Will prejudice, stereotypes and fear stop them? The eye opening ‘Blacks Can’t Swim: The Sequel’ follows the success of Accura and director Mysterex’s first film last year that dove into reasons why 95% of black adults and 80% of black childen in England do not swim. The sequel combines acting and documentary style interviews with Black teens and adults in an attempt to action change from the ground up in local communities.


Layla and K-Frost are two Black teens from a south London council estate. After enrolling in a community program designed for young adults with disadvantaged backgrounds, they soon learn that they must face their ultimate fear, the water, to complete it. They find a mentor in Frank (Ed Accura), a new swimmer who has recently overcome his own personal barriers. Fuelled by true testimonies, this deeply thought-provoking film tackles the age-old myth that Black people can’t swim head-on. It travels to the very root of this racial prejudice and begs the question of why?


Producer Accura is co-founder of the Black Swimming Association (BSA), which champions inclusivity, representation and diversity in aquatics. He says about the release, “There comes a point where this generational cycle has to be broken and that time is now. Yesterday, I watched the final movie for the first time with an audience and got the same tingling sensation of excitement that I had when I first thought of the idea two years ago. I honestly really can’t wait to share this with the world.” Danielle Obe, Interim CEO for the BSA, said, “Blacks Can’t Swim: The Sequel” is an accurate representation of the barriers the Black community face when it comes to swimming, whether that stems from an inherited cultural belief, or simply not having the access, knowledge or confidence they need to get in the pool. It’s time we broke down those barriers, and the BSA is proud to be the first organisation of its kind to tackle this issue head on.”


‘Blacks can’t swim’ is not just a racial stereotype. It denies communities an essential skill that could save someone’s life. Educate yourself by watching ‘Blacks Can’t Swim: The Sequel’ on Digital Download from 10th May. #BlacksCantSwim #Mysterex #BlackSwimmers


BLACKS CAN’T SWIM THE SEQUEL Official Trailer (2021) Documentary

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