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Louis de Corlieu

Born: 1888


October 19.1971

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Notable Achievements:

Developed the first marketable swim fin in 1932 and patented it in 1933. The fins were called Swimming Propellers. Granted USA Patent # 2,099,973 on November 23, 1937. His invention was the foundation of both military and sports diving fins.
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Louis de Corlieu


Louis Marie de Corlieu was born in 1888 and at a very young age displayed a great interest in the ocean. He joined the French Navy, studied different themes of propulsion and saw service during World War I.

During his naval work he pursued his interest in thermal protection against exposure to the sea, and he started to develop items using rubber. This field of interest eventually lead him to develop the swim fin, which was originally called a swimming propeller.

On June 2,1933 he filed for a patent in Paris and registered his invention in seven other countries. Both the French and British Admiralties rejected his fins, but they quickly became popular with swimmers and were also adopted by Commandant Yves Le Prieur for use with this scuba system.

The marriage of De Corlieu's fins with Le Prieur's scuba in 1935 heralded the arrival of the free swimming scuba diver. In 1938, de Corlieu's friend Henri Lombard took some fins to Tahiti where Owen Churchill, an American Olympic yachtsman, saw them. Within two years Churchill had located de Corlieu in Algeria and obtained the manufacturing rights for the fin.

The Churchill fin became one of the vital pieces of diving equipment that launched both the sport of recreational diving and also combat diving.

de Corlieu passed away on October 19,1971.