History of World Snorkeling Day
The origins of the snorkel aren’t clear — and it’s likely older than we think. Aristotle referred to divers using ‘instruments for respiration’ resembling the elephant’s trunk in his text “Parts of Animals.” Evidence suggests that sea sponge farmers in Crete used hollowed-out reeds to submerge and retrieve natural sponges for use in trade and commerce 5,000 years ago, too, and even Leonardo da Vinci drew designs for a very similar underwater breathing device.
Jacques O’Marchal used a swimmer’s breathing tube and mask for the first time in 1922 on the beach of La Croix-Valmer, and he exhibited them at the International Nautical Show in 1931. Barney B. Garden filed the first patent application for a swimming breathing tube on December 9, 1929. Joseph L. Belcher submits a patent application for another one on July 30, 1932, and despite being the second person to do so, World Snorkeling Day is commemorated on that date. In the years that followed, many other patents for comparable devices were filed all around the world.
The first use of ‘snorkel’ was in November 1950, when the Honolulu Sporting Goods Co. introduced a ‘swim-pipe,’ urging children and adults to ‘try the human version of the submarine snorkel and be like a fish,’ likely referring to the German word ‘schnorchel’ that originally referred to an air intake that was used to supply air to the diesel engines of U-boats. In the first issue of the “Skin Diver” magazine in December 1951, every advertisement uses the word ‘snorkelers’ to refer to swimmers’ breathing tubes.
In December 1969, the British Standards Institution published a British standard BS 4532 entitled “Specification for snorkels and face masks,’ this was the first national standard on snorkels. This British standard sets different maximum and minimum snorkel dimensions for adult and child users’ specific materials and design features for tubes and mouthpieces and requires a warning label and a set of instructions to be enclosed with each snorkel.