As was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States of America, Franklin was a leading author, printer, satirist, political theorist, politician, scientist, diplomat and statesman of his era. He was also credited with the invention of wooden hand paddles and was an avid swimmer all his life. He advocated universal learn-to-swim classes as an early proponent of physical fitness, both for peace of mind and for safety in one's life.
As a teenager, he had no fear of the waters of Boston Harbor where he frequented the wharves, marshes and docks and where taught himself to swim. He advocated universal swim lessons for everyone, unheard of in his day. In his own words, "I had a strong inclination for the sea; living near the water, I was much in it and about it and learnt early to swim well."
He was an early oceanographer who charted and measured the Gulf Stream. He advised on water safety, lifeboat rescue escape from shipwrecks and sea anchors.