Patent application title: MONOFIN, TAIL AND METHOD
Eric Browning (Shelley, ID, US)
Steven Browning (Rigby, ID, US)
Brent Houghton (Shelley, ID, US)
Kyle Kinghorn (Rexburg, ID, US)
Christine Dustin (Idaho Falls, ID, US)
BLUE SPRING PARTNERS, LLC
IPC8 Class: AA63B3111FI
Publication date: 2017-06-01
Patent application number: 20170151465
A monofin, mermaid tail, and method of applying the tail and monofin. The
fin utilizes a core made of flexible, yet resilient material such as
plastic and a cover that is elastic, such as neoprene. The user's feet
are connected to the fin by releasable connections. The mermaid tail and
monofin connects both of a user's feet and legs in order to facilitate
swimming in a mermaid-like motion while giving the user the appearance of
1. A swimming device comprising: a resilient member being flat and
elongate and having a first side, a second side, a third side and a
fourth side; a cover configured to surround said resilient member, said
cover having a periphery comprising a first edge, a second edge, a third
edge, and a fourth edge; at least one foot retainer capable of receiving
and retaining both of a user's feet, said at least one foot retainer
attached to said cover; said at least one foot retainer located near said
first edge of said cover so that said resilient member extends under and
beyond a user's feet;
2. The swimming device of claim 1 wherein said first side of said resilient member is the width of a user's feet, said second side of said resilient member forms an arc, said second side of said resilient member being wider than said first side of said resilient member, said first end of said resilient member and said second end of said resilient member are curved.
3. The swimming device of claim 2 wherein said second side of said resilient member is between 1 and 6 times the length of said first side of said resilient member.
4. The swimming device of claim 2 wherein said second side of said resilient member forms a concave arc.
5. The swimming device of claim 4 wherein said resilient member is in the shape of a dolphin tailfin.
6. The swimming device of claim 1 wherein said cover is releasably affixed to said resilient member.
7. The swimming device of claim 6 wherein said cover comprises a top half and a bottom half that are permanently affixed to said resilient member by stitching connecting the periphery of said top half and said bottom half.
8. The swimming device of claim 1 wherein said resilient member is made of plastic.
9. The swimming device of claim 1 wherein said cover is made of neoprene.
10. The swimming device of claim 1 wherein said cover comprises a top half and a bottom half that are secured around said resilient member and said foot retainer extends underneath said top half of said cover and said cover further comprises a rear side positioned adjacent to said first side of said resilient member, said rear side having a height configured to enclose a user's heel.
11. The swimming device of claim 1 further comprising: a mermaid tail configured to slide over a user's feet; said mermaid tail having a leg section, a waist section and a tail section; said leg section being generally tubular and attached to said waist section so that a user's feet can pass through said waist section and through said leg section; said tail section attached to said leg section so that a user's feet can pass through said waist section, through said leg section, and through said tail section; said tail section configured to extend over said swimming device when said swimming device is attached to a user's feet.
12. The swimming device of claim 11 wherein said mermaid tail is comprised of a single piece of elastic material.
13. The swimming device of claim 1 wherein said foot retainers are sock-like and extend into said cover.
14. A method of applying a mermaid tail comprising the steps of: a. placing a mermaid tail around both legs; said mermaid tail comprising a leg section having configured to fit around a users legs; and a waist section attached to one end of said leg section is open and configured to fit around a user's waist; and a tail section is open and configured to fit around a monofin; b. placing said waist section of said mermaid tail to a user's waist; c. exposing a user's feet through the tail section of the mermaid tail; d. placing a swimming device on user's feet wherein said swimming device is a monofin; e. pulling said tail section of said mermaid tail over said swimming device;
15. The method of claim 14 wherein step (d) further comprises the steps of: a. Placing each of a user's feet into an individual foot retainer attached to said swimming device.
16. The method of claim 14 wherein step (a) comprises sliding said mermaid tail around both legs wherein said mermaid tail is formed of a single piece.
 The presently disclosed and claimed inventive concepts generally relate to an apparatus for swimming, and more particularly to a monofin and mermaid tail.
 Swimming is a popular activity among millions of people every year. It is not uncommon to see a swimmer keep their feet together and swim in a style similar to a mermaid or a dolphin. This provides a different exercise as well as additional enjoyment for the swimmer.
 In order to improve the ability of a swimmer to mimic a mermaid while swimming several monofins have been developed which increase the propulsion force of a user's feet while swimming in the mermaid style. A monofin keeps both of a user's feet connected to a single fin while having a large flat surface extending away from the user's feet. To secure the monofin to the user's feet, heel straps have been utilized. The heel straps, however, have a tendency to slide off of the user's heel once they are wet and the user places force on them during use. The monofins and heel straps have generally been constructed out of rubber or hard plastic.
 Both of these construction practices result in a monofin that is uncomfortable to a user due to the abrasive nature of rubber or plastic that contacts a user's skin. It is desirable to produce a monofin that is more comfortable for a user. Unfortunately, in order to achieve the desired comfort it has been necessary to use materials that are not as hard or stiff as the rubber or hard plastic used to connect the user's feet to the monofin. This causes a significant loss in efficiency of the swimming stroke and enjoyment for the user. It is also desirable to allow users to have the appearance of a mermaid. While this appearance has been done before, the prior art has been limited to mainly performance driven design, with poor comfort features.
 Disclosed is a swimming device in the shape of a monofin similar to a mermaid fin that allows a user's feet to function similar to a mermaid tail or dolphin tail fin. The device is created by a resilient member that is flat and elongate, has a first side, second side, third side and fourth side. The sides are preferably curved and the second end is preferably concave in order to mimic the appearance a mermaid tail fin.
 The resilient member is enclosed by a cover. In a preferred embodiment, the cover is made from neoprene and the resilient member is made from polycarbonate, but other materials are acceptable. For example, the cover could be made of spandex or other elastic material while the resilient member is made of a different plastic or rubber. The cover has a first edge, second edge, third edge and fourth edge that when placed around the resilient member, the edges of the cover are adjacent to the sides of the resilient member. The sides of the cover combine to make a periphery that extends around the resilient member in order to enclose it. The cover can be held in place using various methods including adhesive or hook and loop closures, with stitching around the periphery being a preferred embodiment.
 Attached to the cover are one or more foot retainers. These retainers secure the device to the user's feet in order to allow a user to swim in a motion similar to a mermaid without the swimming device coming off. The foot retainer can be made using one or more straps to secure the user's feet to the monofin. In a preferred embodiment the foot retainer is comprised of sock-like retainers extending underneath the top half of the cover. The sock-like retainers are elastic, allowing for a snug and secure fit with a variety of foot sizes.
 Further disclosed is a method for applying a mermaid tail. A first step is placing a tubular fabric mermaid tail, having a waist section, a leg section, and a tail section, around a user's legs. The second step is for the waist section of the mermaid tail to be placed around the user's waist. The third step is pulling the tail section above a user's feet, exposing the user's feet. The fourth step is placing a swimming device, a monofin, on the user's feet. The monofin is designed to create a single fin whereon each of a user's feet is attached. The fifth step is to pull the tail section down over the monofin, covering the monofin to create the appearance of a continuous fin and tail.
 The disclosed design is preferable over monofin designs presently available because of its increased comfort in attachment of the monofin to the users feet, due to eliminating rubbing or pinch points. It has increased ease of use due to having no buckles or straps or other cumbersome attachment means, and the resilient member results in increased flexibility and realistic movement of the fin in the water. The stretchy nature of the foot pockets allows for use by a wide range of foot sizes, the feet being held securely in the monofin while swimming and easy release of the feet from the mono fin when the user wishes to remove the monofin. By being light weight (it is virtually weightless yet is not too bouyant to hinder swimming beneath the surface).
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
 FIG. 1 is a top view of a monofin in accordance with an embodiment of the inventive concepts.
 FIG. 2 is a top view of a resilient member in accordance with an embodiment of the inventive concepts.
 FIG. 3 is a top view of a monofin in accordance with an embodiment of the inventive concepts wherein the cover is folded open to show the interior resilient member.
 FIG. 4 is a perspective view of the rear of a monofin in accordance with an embodiment of the inventive concepts.
 FIG. 5 is a perspective view of a mermaid tail in accordance with an embodiment of the inventive concepts.
 FIG. 6 is a perspective view of a user applying a mermaid tail in accordance with an embodiment of the inventive concepts.
 FIG. 7 is a perspective view of a user applying a monofin after applying a mermaid tail in accordance with an embodiment of the inventive concepts.
 FIG. 8 is a perspective view of a user pulling a tail section of a mermaid tail over a monofin in accordance with an embodiment of the inventive concepts.
 FIG. 9 is a perspective view of a user pulling a tail section of a mermaid tail over a monofin in accordance with an embodiment of the inventive concepts.
 FIG. 10 is a perspective view of a user having applied a mermaid tail in accordance with an embodiment of the method.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE EXEMPLARY EMBODIMENTS
 FIG. 1 shows a top view of swimming device 10. Swimming device 10 includes a cover 18 having a cover first edge 36, a cover second edge 38, a cover third edge 40 and a cover fourth edge 42. Combined these four edges form the periphery 44 of the cover 18. Swimming device 10 is attachable to a user's feet using foot retainers 30. FIG. 1 shows foot retainer 30 as two separate holes that pass into the swimming device 10 in order to secure both user's feet therein. Foot retainer 30 is made of two separate sock-like structures. Each sock-like structure extends into cover 18. Further, foot retainer 30 is made of an elastic material preferably a four-way stretch polyester and nylon blend, but other materials would also work such as spandex and nylon blend or neoprene, that allows for a snug fit with a wide range of foot sizes. The elastic material also allows for easy removal of swimming device 10. A user simply has to slide a finger or thumb down the heel behind the foot and the heel will come free from the foot retainer 30. In a preferred embodiment the foot retainers 30 extend into cover 18 but do not pass through flexible member 12, which is not shown in FIG. 1. While the system shown is preferred, other foot retainers are foreseeable including added straps and laces.
 FIG. 1 shows swimming device 10 having the cover first edge 36, cover second edge 38, cover third 40 edge and cover fourth edge 42 curved in order to mimic a mermaid or dolphin fin. While this embodiment is preferred, it is possible to have the edges straight or curved in other shapes or a combination of straight and curved edges. In order to maintain shape and provide rigidity to the swimming device 10, a resilient member 12, which is not shown in FIG. 1, is positioned inside of cover 18. The preferred material for the swimming device 10 is neoprene because neoprene is soft, meant for use in water, and not very absorbent, but additional materials including spandex and polyester could be used. The size of the swimming device 10 can vary widely based on personal performance and aesthetics, but a general circumference of 76 inches works well for adults with a circumference of 62 inches being preferred for many children. A size for children and a size for adults is preferred, with the child size 40% smaller than the size for adults.
 FIG. 2 shows resilient member 12 prior to being placed within cover 18. As shown it is preferable for resilient member 12 and cover 18 to have similar shapes and sizes. However, modifications are possible in order to achieve various aesthetic and performance goals. Further, various thicknesses and materials can be used to obtain different stiffness. For example, making resilient member 12 thin and flexible will allow for easier movement in the water while making resilient member 12 thicker and less flexible will allow a stronger user to generate more propulsion force. The resilient member 12 is preferably removable from within cover 18. The ability to remove resilient member 12 allows the user to change resilient members for different users without the need to buy an entirely new swimming device 10. For instance, a stronger swimmer would be able to use a less flexible version of resilient member 12 while a weaker swimmer could switch in a more flexible version of resilient member 12. This also allows the swimming device 10 to be changed as a user improves their strength. In a preferred embodiment the resilient member 12 is 0.08 inches thick and made from polycarbonate. Other materials are possible such as other plastics, rubber, foam, or wood with different dimensions possible for each material. The preferred combination of a resilient member 12 made of polycarbonate and cover 18 made of neoprene yield results where the swimming device 10 is lightweight and feels nearly weightless in the water. The resilient member 12 is approximately neutral in buoyancy.
 Shown in FIG. 2, resilient member 12 has a first side 14 located where a user's feet will be during use. Resilient member 12 further includes a second side 16 which operates to provide propulsion during use. Third side 22 and fourth side 24 of resilient member 12 are curved in order to improve performance as well as to mimic the shape of a Mermaid or Dolphin tail fin. Cover second edge 38 corresponds to resilient member second side while cover third edge 40 and cover fourth edge 42 correspond to resilient member third side and resilient member fourth side, respectfully.
 FIG. 3 shows the resilient member 12 located between a cover top half 26 and cover bottom half 28. The cover top half 26 has been partially folded back to show resilient member 12, which is also partially folded back. Once cover top half 26 and cover bottom half 28 are secured, this configuration prevents resilient member 12 from separating from the cover 18 while providing rigidity to the swimming device 10.
 FIG. 4 shows cover first edge 36 having a rear side 32. Rear side 32 provides room for a user's heel so that the user's feet can be positioned in between cover top half 26 and resilient member 12 while the user's heel is secured by the rear side 32. Also shown in FIG. 4 is a preferred design of securing cover top half 26 and cover bottom half 28 around resilient member 12. The design shown utilizes stitching 34 around the periphery 44 of the cover 18 in order to attach the cover top half 26 and cover bottom half 28 around resilient member 12. Other possibilities for securing the cover 18 around the resilient member 12 include the use of adhesives, the use of lacing, hook and loop fasteners, buttons, a combination thereof or other mechanisms.
 FIG. 5 shows a mermaid tail 20. The mermaid tail 20 is tubular and features a leg section 52 that surrounds a user's legs, a waist section 48 that holds the tail around a user's waist, and a tail section 50 that fits around swimming device 10, not shown in FIG. 5. Waist section 48 fits around a user's waist to hold mermaid tail 20 in an appropriate place. Waist section 48 can include other features, such as tacky rubber, to decrease the risk of the mermaid tail 20 sliding on the user. Leg section 52 is attached to waist section 48. Leg section 52 fits around a user's legs tight enough to hold itself in place. Shown in FIG. 5, mermaid tail 20 includes tail section 50 connected to leg section 52. In a preferred embodiment waist section 48, leg section 52, and tail section 50 are made from a single piece of elastic material. Tail section 50 is preferably large enough to extend over a swimming device 10. Extending tail section 50 over swimming device 10 allows the mermaid tail 20 to have a continuous appearance on the user instead of a discontinuous appearance where the swimming device 10 is exposed, creating a joint between the two surfaces.
 Also disclosed is a method of applying a mermaid tail 20 to create the appearance that the user is a mermaid. FIG. 6 shows step one of the method, placing the mermaid tail around both legs of a user. In a preferred embodiment this is done by sliding the waist section 48 over a users feet and further sliding the leg section 52 and tail section 50 over the user's feet. As one alternative, the mermaid tail 20 can be rolled over a user's legs if the mermaid tail 20 is previously rolled. Step two, also shown in FIG. 6, is pulling the waist section 48 at a user's waist. Preferably this is done by sliding waist section 48 until waist section 48 is correctly placed. While sliding waist section 48, the leg section 52 extends to cover a user's legs. Step three, shown in FIG. 7, is to expose the user's feet through the tail section 50. This allows a user to complete step four which is attaching swimming device 10 to the user's feet. While different designs of swimming device 10 are possible, in a preferred embodiment swimming device 10 has individual foot retainers 30 for each of a user's feet and extends away from the user's feet in a mermaid tail fin shape. Step five, shown in FIGS. 8 and 9, is pulling tail section 50 over the swimming device 10 and securing it in place. Upon pulling tail section 50 over the swimming device 10, and the waist section 48 remains at the user's waist, the user appears to have a mermaid tail and is capable of swimming in a fashion similar to a mermaid, as shown in FIG. 10.
 While certain exemplary embodiments are shown in the figures and described in this disclosure, it is to be distinctly understood that the presently disclosed inventive concept(s) is not limited thereto but may be variously embodied to practice within the scope of the following claims. From the foregoing description, it will be apparent that various changes may be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the disclosure as defined by the following claims.