introducing: emily deyn
We caught up with Emily Deyn co-founder of Swim Dem Crew, an inner-city swim club, in upstate NYC to discuss our HOH x Speedo collaboration and got all nostalgic about swimming.
You started Swim Dem Crew back in 2013, (a huge community for swimmers) what made you start this?
I started Swim Dem Crew with my two closest friends Nathaniel and Peigh. Me and Nathaniel kept bumping into each other at the London fields lido so started training together in the pool. Peigh joined us shortly after, at the time he wasn't the best swimmer, so we taught him everything we knew about the water, swimming techniques and diving. The three of us would swim and get breakfast together two, three times a week, slowly more friends joined, and the crew began growing. A year after Swim Dem launched I moved to Los Angeles for work and had to take a back seat from the crew. The boys have grown Swim Dem into a powerful and safe community of friendship, swimming and a tool to empower people. I’m truly proud of them and what they have achieved.
Have you always been an avid swimmer?
Yes, for as long as I can remember. My mum took me to the swimming pool for the first time when I was only a few months old and I was hooked. Growing up I was on a swim team called the Ramsbottom Rascals and would compete along with my sister and brother. The Swimming Pool has always been my sanctuary; it’s the place I go to when I’m feeling happy, excited, sad, anxious and vulnerable. It’s the one place in my world where I do most of my thinking and reflecting. It’s also the place where I feel most creative, gliding through the crystal-clear waters whether it be the pool, sea, river, lake is pure ultimate freedom for me.
You are now living in NYC, have you been able to build a Swim Dem Crew there?
Unfortunately, the pool systems here in NYC is different than that of any other place like Los Angeles and the UK, which has made it more difficult to continue the Swim Dem community here. The community pools here work on a yearly membership for one specific location and non-community-based pools range from $25-40 for a drop-in swimming session. In the summer the outdoor community pools are free which is amazing but this is just for the short summer months. It’s something I would love to start soon.
What is your earliest memory of Speedos?
My earliest memory of speedo was when I was 6 years old and my mum taking me shopping for a new suit for swim club. My mum had always put me in pretty swimsuits with frills prior to swim club, but swim club was a big deal to me, and I wanted a swimsuit that reflected that. I remember it being navy blue with the speedo logo on the front.
What is your biggest swimwear disaster?
OH jheeze, there have been a few disasters over the years but there is one that will probably haunt me forever. I bought a brand-new speedo; I was literally obsessed with this swimsuit. It was my go-to swimsuit, I wore it over the years till it was literally falling apart. On our last swim together my suit had gone completely see through and thread bare on the derrière area, I was sitting on the side of the pool and as I slide in, it ripped completely and the walk of shame to the changing rooms was long and embarrassing. It was a full moon I will never forget.
How do you use swimming as part of your overall fitness program?
I’m currently working on a structured hypertrophy training program and taking Tone House classes. My work outs are athletic based consisting of heavy weights, sports conditioning and mobility drills. I use swimming too as a low impact recovery work out to improve my cardiovascular training and to help improve my overall mental and physical health.
You have been shooting the HOH x Speedo collection with Devi Penny. What is your favourite piece from the collection?
I love working with Devi, she makes it comfortable, easy and so much fun. She’s an exceptionally great photographer and a genuinely wonderful human. We both loved the collection so much; it’s colourful, stylish and exciting whilst also being athletic, durable and functional. Our favorite pieces are the multi-coloured Hydra Active Striped Swimsuit, Black and Orange tie-dye swim set and the Blue tie-dye long sleeved swimsuit.
These pieces are so versatile and beautiful.
You are currently working for The Lions in NYC who strive to push boundaries and disrupt the generic approach to model agencies. Do you have any advice for anyone looking to get into modeling?
I love working for the Lions and what it stands for as an agency. My advice to anyone looking to become a model is to be yourself, stand by what you believe in and never give up on your ambitions.
How does it feel to be part of #HOHLife?
I was humbled and excited to be apart of #HOHLIFE for Speedo. Everything about this collection resonated with me not only from a sporting perspective but an environmental standpoint. The collection is made out of 80% recycled fishing nets; I’m personally on a new journey to be more consciously aware of my choices relating to waste, plastic pollution and sustainability. More than 8 billion tons of plastic are dumped into our oceans each year, more than 38 billion water bottles are disposed of in landfill every year. I read that by 2050, the ocean is expected to contain more plastic than fish by weight. As a mother I feel I have a responsibility to educate my daughter on the effects plastic pollution is having on our environment. My daughter is also a keen swimmer and I want her to have the chance to experience the wonder of this beautiful world we live in and teach her the importance of preserving this.
All images were taken by photographer Devi Penny.