A business idea started in a University of St. Thomas dorm aims to save lives on the water. Michael Fox ’12, and his business partner Pat Hughes, have created a new safety vest that’s less cumbersome than traditional life jackets, hoping the design will meet the needs of outdoor enthusiasts and appeal to other adults who typically choose not to wear life jackets.

The company, Hyde, won $50,000 from Arch Grants in St. Louis, to improve water safety through the introduction of its new triathlon and surf safety product, the Wingman. It’s a vest that allows swimmers to rescue themselves by pulling a ripcord and deploying an inflatable bladder. The design incorporates Hyde’s patent pending Triple-Bursting Zipper and CO2 Mounting Plate which allows for a streamlined fit that doesn’t interrupt wearer’s swim strokes and minimizes drag to ensure swimmers don’t sacrifice speed for safety.

Hyde created the Wingman in response to the company’s founders witnessing the pain caused by a triathlon swim death. As the design progressed, it became obvious to the owners that the Wingman could be used beyond triathlons and can work for surfers, paddlers and other watersports enthusiasts. Fox hopes the introduction of the Wingman will increase awareness of swim and surf safety and reduce drownings.


Photo Courtesy: Hyde

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