The Dream

It started out as a conversation with Ocean Kayak founder Tim Niemier.  Why were all the new kayaks getting wider and bigger?  The man who combined the words Ocean and Kayak together back in 1971 was wondering if the bulky new kayak designs could even handle the open ocean. 

It turned into a challenge.  Take Niemier’s concept of a low-riding, self-bailing Scupper kayak and use it to push the boundaries of speed, comfort and stability.  Initial prototypes proved our theories that lowering the cockpit would create an effortless stroke that didn’t hit your knees and allowed one to paddle comfortably and efficiently all day. 

It became a dream come true.  The Scupper is appreciated by experts for it’s ability to handle various conditions. It glides through wind.  Pounds through surf.  Soars over waves.  It’s also an amazing kayak for beginners. It provides an intuitive, natural stroke with advanced ergonomics.   

The success of the Scupper is a result of taking a Paddler First approach to building a product.  Swell Watercraft is Paddler Owned and Operated.  Our pledge to you is to continue to keep you, the paddler, top of mind continually while we work.  Committed 4 Life.  


Jim received his intro to paddlesports canoeing Illinois’ rivers as a youth. He was lucky enough to paddle all kinds of crafts during his 10 years as Publisher of Canoe & Kayak magazine. He’s a lifelong athlete who spends his time away from work paddling, running, cycling or chasing after his 2 teenage sons & their dog. He was key in the design of the Scupper and helped set up sales, marketing and general business operations at Swell.


Ted has spent his entire adult life working in paddlesports. He became a whitewater kayak instructor during his days at Colorado State University. He has spent over 20 years as a sales representative for brands such as Kokatat, Wilderness Systems, Native, Adidas Outdoor and Watershed Drybags. Ted runs the biggest rivers in Idaho, skis, mountain bikes & rides oddball devices like his One Wheel or electric foilboard.


It’s easy to have the absolute best roto molded plastic materials and advanced sealants when one of the owners is an obsessive chemical engineer. Thom received his degree from the University of Illinois and has spent his career consulting to factories as an expert on the chemical production process. He began paddling canoes with the Boy Scouts as a kid, eventually achieving the rank of Eagle Scout. He’s also the older brother of Jim.


Tim introduced the sit-on-top kayak to the world through his brand Ocean Kayak, which he sold in 1997. Although he is not a part of Swell, he conceptualized the Scupper kayak as a successor to his previous designs. He runs the business incubator that lead to brands like Swell, Nucanoe, and Diablo as a method of reaching his goal of getting a “billion butts in boats”. Read more about out him in his autobiography “Millionaire Beach Bum” or at