How Does Schlori Do It?

How do they do it? How do they keep air in the simple, natural fiber bags? The makers of the Schlori Swim Cushions will only say that it is difficult to imitate. The Schlori floats hold air when they are wet, due to expansion of the fibers in the specially manufactured fabric. In testing performed by the German environmentally friendly consumer protection magazine, Öko-test, Schlori Swim Cushions alone received the highest score, easily beating out the competition, most of the which is made out of polyvinylchloride (PVC) plastic with phthalate modifier. We will leave it to the commenters to make their judgements on the evils or benefits of phthalates and PVC, and simply observe that the Schloris offer a welcome alternative.
The original Schloris have been made in Germany since they were invented in Berlin in 1936 by a swim instructor. They are designed to give the arms free movement and hold the body in a position comfortable for swimming--which can be a disadvantage if your child has his or her mind set on just hanging vertically in the water. Users report that they will last for years and they can take your child from infant (see photo in extended story) through to assistance-free swimming.

As swimming skills improve, air can be pressed out of the cushion to increase independence. In case you are still fighting a fear of water as an adult, the Schlori Swim Cushions are approved to work for adults up to 60kg (132 pounds), although it appears demand has not yet triggered a slightly more dignified fabric pattern for mature customers. They are also a great for anyone who needs a bit of assistance due to physical restrictions.

The two pillows are fastened by a bowtie or knot on the back of the child, which improves the safety as it is difficult for a child to remove by themself. However, please note: no swim assist device will prevent drowning, so parental attention is always required. Users claim the cloth tie is comfortable, not binding and will not pinch as some plastic devices do.

The concept is reported to have one drawback: with no plastic valves, blowing air into the pillows takes a bit of learning. The pillows may also lose some air until they are fully saturated, but since they are designed for considerably more support than the average child needs, this should not be cause for concern.

Another drawback: the Schlori company is not represented outside of Germany, Switzerland and Spain. The company will direct-sell through the Schlori website, but it is not very English friendly. But an English brochure with instructions for use and care is available, so if you can work out how to place an order, you should be able to use your Schloris on receipt.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, "Schlori" comes from the German for "learn to swim without risk" (Schwimmen lernen ohne risiko). [by © C. Lepisto, 2005]

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