Arena Rocks USA Swimming With Exclusive Deal

PHOENIX, Arizona, December 17. TEAM USA will wear Arena brand gear at the 2013 World Championships in Barcelona. Starting January 1, Arena will replace Speedo, the nearly three-decade exclusive USA Swimming sponsor, as the National Team's new exclusive apparel brand sponsor. The contract includes an eight-year partnership, encompassing both the 2016 and 2020 Olympic Games.

Swimming World broke the news earlier this month that USA Swimming ended its exclusive sponsorship contract with Speedo that had lasted nearly 30 years, opening the door for companies to stake their claim as sponsors of different teams and events governed by USA Swimming. Speedo retains its sponsorship of the U.S. Junior National Championships, and the USA Swimming sectionals circuit.

“This is like in the world of football, we landed a deal with Real Madrid or Brazil,” Giuseppe Musciacchio, Manager of Brand Development for Arena, told SwimNews. “It's a big challenge and we are excited but our knees are knocking too.”

As part of the contract, Arena will officially sponsor USA Swimming's Grand Prix Circuit meets, play a key supporting role in the USA Swimming Foundation and its Make a Splash water safety initiative, and have worldwide merchandising rights for the USA Swimming brand.

The Grand Prix Circuit sponsorship is a big catch for Arena. Each year, swimmers who are part of the Athlete Partnership Plan are required to participate in a set number of the circuit meets to receive funding. These highly visible and high-caliber events provide excellent market branding for Arena. The Grand Prix meets tend to include a younger age group of swimmers. Seeing elite-level athletes around the pool deck dressed head to toe in Arena, at an Arena sponsored event, doubly reinforces the brand's partnership with and commitment to USA Swimming.

“The biggest return [from the partnership] is, without a doubt, [that] this solidifies that Arena is not only committed to the USA Swim Marketplace, but Arena should be considered a market leader in every aspect: products, sponsorship, events, and most importantly, as a brand that is committed to making the sport of swim stronger at all ages,” said Tim McCool, the Arena General Manager for North America. “Secondly, with this relationship, we see are ability to maximize our focused approach to increase market share with Teams and Clubs throughout the USA. We are in a very strong stock position in anticipation of the increase in teams and clubs throughout 2013, and this relationship only helps us achieve our goal.”

Although premature to the official announcement, U.S. National team members were already visibly sporting Arena swimsuits last week at the FINA World Short Course Championships, including three of the members on the men's gold medal 800 freestyle relay. However, should a National Team member have a private sponsorship with a different company (for instance, Ryan Lochte's sponsorship with Speedo), Team USA's apparel sponsorship with Arena will not hinder the athlete from racing in their personal sponsor's suit. They'll just have to don Arena's new National Team uniform during award ceremonies, press conferences and on deck. This is similar to a Speedo athlete (such as Michael Phelps) wearing Nike gear at the out of the water at the Olympics, since Nike sponsors the U.S. Olympic Committee's apparel.

“The National Team gear will have Arena logos and will be exclusive,” said McCool “Of course, like always, any swimmer has the right to race in other brands. [It's] no different than track and field, soccer, and basketball in footwear, for example.”

Arena already sponsors a number of elite U.S. athletes, including Rebecca Soni, Aaron Peirsol, Eric Shanteau, and Conor Dwyer.

“This [move] gives Arena a complete story for Arena Sponsored Athletes. Up to the race, during the race, and on the podium. Arena will now have the brand visibility to tell our complete story in 'owning the deck' providing superior products both in the water, as well as warm ups and other team wear out of the water,” explained McCool.

Arena posted the following press release regarding its sponsorship deal with USA Swimming:
Portland, Ore. (December 17, 2012) — Global swimwear company Arena today announced that it has landed an eight-year sponsorship agreement with USA Swimming, the national governing body for the sport of swimming in the United States. The core feature of the new deal is Arena's role as exclusive sponsor of the U.S. National Team, which includes the creation of new National Team uniforms. The sponsorship goes into effect in January 2013.

In addition to its role as sponsor of the U.S. National Team, Arena will also be the exclusive title sponsor of USA Swimming's annual Grand Prix Series, play a key supporting role in the USA Swimming Foundation and its Make a Splash water safety initiative, and enjoy worldwide merchandising rights for the USA Swimming brand.

“Based on our international success over the past decade, it was time for us to target one of the most ambitious projects in our history — to be a leading player in the U.S., the most important market in the world of swimming,” said Arena CEO Cristiano Portas. “USA Swimming is an organization that excels both in and out of the pool and is a leader worldwide in advancing the sport. Today, we are immensely proud to partner with them, because we share their vision, passion, and determination.”

The new partnership signals Arena's growing presence and commitment to the U.S. market and comes on the heels of the recent opening of its wholly-owned North American subsidiary in Portland, Oregon. In less than two years since re-entering the U.S. market, propelled by the groundbreaking technology found in its top-performing suits and the speed of innovation that is powering its surge worldwide, Arena has now claimed a leading role in the racing category.

“It was clear from our first meeting with USA Swimming that we share the same values and devotion to making sure the sport of swimming continues to grow for generations to come,” said Vice President and General Manager of Arena North America, Tim McCool. “We are excited to work with them on multiple levels, from elite to grassroots, all to benefit and celebrate the sport year-round.”

American swimming is stronger than ever, and rapidly growing in popularity and participation. The strength of the sport in the U.S. is growing with a projected growth in membership after London 2012 of 10% or more, record attendance and TV ratings for the U.S. Olympic Trials, long-term TV and Internet partnerships, and all topped off by the highest medal production of any swimming country in the Olympic Games.

“Arena shares our vision of growing participation in the sport at the grassroots level and recognizing the top athletes in the country,” said USA Swimming Chief Marketing Officer Matt Farrell. “Exciting things are in store to grow the Grand Prix Series like never before with more support than ever for the top athletes.”

Arena's commitment to the highest level of U.S. swimming builds upon the brand's existing involvement in the nation's swimming community. Arena is involved at numerous levels, from individual sponsorships of athletes including Rebecca Soni, Aaron Peirsol, Eric Shanteau, and ConorDwyer, to strategic college sponsorships (including the 2011 and 2012 NCAA Men's champions the Cal Bears), grassroots sponsorship of Swim America (an American Swimming Coaches Association (ASCA) program), and charitable initiatives including the Edith Sanford Breast Cancer Foundation and Eric Shanteau's Swim For Your Life program.

“The fact that USA Swimming and Arena are joining forces creates an extremely powerful combination. I've been a member of the U.S. National Team, as well as a member of the Arena family, for several years and have a tremendous amount of respect for what both organizations stand for,” said six-time Olympic medalist Rebecca Soni. “This partnership will absolutely benefit the swimming community, both here in the U.S. and on a global level.”

In addition to being known for its dedication to the sport of swimming, Arena has long been associated with the cutting edge of swimming innovation. The brand's latest product, the breakthrough POWERSKIN Carbon-Pro swimsuit, made a resounding statement at the 2012 Summer Games with hundreds of swimmers choosing to wear Arena. Swimmers at every level are now taking advantage of the game-changing technology that stood out in London, and Arena is being worn more and more in everyday practice and competition across the U.S.

This is the first time in its history that USA Swimming will partner with multiple swimwear brands — rather than one brand, as has been the case for the past three decades — in an effort to further grow the sport of swimming.

USA Swimming also announced the sponsorship earlier today:
USA Swimming today announced that it has secured an eight-year sponsorship agreement with global swimwear company Arena. The core feature of the new deal is Arena's role as exclusive sponsor of the U.S. National Team, which includes the creation of new National Team uniforms. The sponsorship goes into effect in January of 2013.

In addition to its role as sponsor of the U.S. National Team, Arena will also be the exclusive title sponsor of USA Swimming's annual Grand Prix Series, play a key supporting role in the USA Swimming Foundation and its Make a Splash water safety initiative, and enjoy worldwide merchandising rights for the USA Swimming brand.

“Based on our international success over the past decade, it was time for us to target one of the most ambitious projects in our history — to be a leading player in the U.S., the most important market in the world of swimming,” said Arena CEO Cristiano Portas. “USA Swimming is an organization that excels both in and out of the pool and is a leader worldwide in advancing the sport. Today, we are immensely proud to partner with them, because we share their vision, passion, and determination.”

The new partnership signals Arena's growing presence and commitment to the U.S. market and comes on the heels of the recent opening of its wholly-owned North American subsidiary in Portland, Oregon. In less than two years since re-entering the U.S. market, propelled by the groundbreaking technology found in its top-performing suits and the speed of innovation that is powering its surge worldwide, Arena has now claimed a leading role in the racing category.

“It was clear from our first meeting with USA Swimming that we share the same values and devotion to making sure the sport of swimming continues to grow for generations to come,” said Vice President and General Manager of Arena North America, Tim McCool. “We are excited to work with them on multiple levels, from elite to grassroots, all to benefit and celebrate the sport year-round.”

American swimming is stronger than ever, and rapidly growing in popularity and participation. The strength of the sport in the U.S. is growing with a projected growth in membership after London 2012 of 10% or more, record attendance and TV ratings for the U.S. Olympic Trials, long-term TV and Internet partnerships, and all topped off by the highest medal production of any swimming country in the Olympic Games.

“Arena shares our vision of growing participation in the sport at the grassroots level and recognizing the top athletes in the country,” said USA Swimming Chief Marketing Officer Matt Farrell. “Exciting things are in store to grow the Grand Prix Series like never before with more support than ever for the top athletes.”

Arena's commitment to the highest level of U.S. swimming builds upon the brand's existing involvement in the nation's swimming community. Arena is involved at numerous levels, from individual sponsorships of athletes including Rebecca Soni, Aaron Peirsol, Eric Shanteau, and Conor Dwyer, to strategic college sponsorships (including the 2011 and 2012 NCAA Men's champions the Cal Bears), grassroots sponsorship of Swim America (an American Swimming Coaches Association (ASCA) program), and charitable initiatives including the Edith Sanford Breast Cancer Foundation and Eric Shanteau's Swim For Your Life program.

“The fact that USA Swimming and Arena are joining forces creates an extremely powerful combination. I've been a member of the U.S. National Team, as well as a member of the Arena family, for several years and have a tremendous amount of respect for what both organizations stand for,” said six-time Olympic medalist Rebecca Soni. “This partnership will absolutely benefit the swimming community, both here in the U.S. and on a global level.”

In addition to being known for its dedication to the sport of swimming, Arena has long been associated with the cutting edge of swimming innovation. The brand's latest product, the breakthrough POWERSKIN Carbon-Pro swimsuit, made a resounding statement at the 2012 Summer Games with hundreds of swimmers choosing to wear Arena. Swimmers at every level are now taking advantage of the game-changing technology that stood out in London, and Arena is being worn more and more in everyday practice and competition across the U.S.

This is the first time in its history that USA Swimming will partner with multiple swimwear brands — rather than one brand, as has been the case for the past three decades — in an effort to further grow the sport of swimming.

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