By John Lohn
AUSTIN, Texas, May 20. A little more than a month after wrapping up an illustrious collegiate career at the University of Texas, Brendan Hansen has moved on to swimming's professional ranks.
Hansen, a graduate of Haverford High in Pennsylvania, recently inked an endorsement contract with Nike, in addition to obtaining the representation of Evan Morgenstein, the president of Premier Management Group. All along, the world-ranked breaststroker has continued his intensive training and preparation for July's United States Olympic Swimming Trials, scheduled for Long Beach, Calif.
In selecting Nike, Hansen bypassed an offer from Speedo, the dominant swimwear manufacturer in the sport. Yet, Hansen felt more comfortable with Nike, and the opportunity to broaden the Oregon-based company's presence in the aquatic world.
Between his base salary and incentive clauses, Hansen's contract with Nike is almost certain to crack the six-figure mark on a yearly basis. That number, aided by potential bonuses from the United States Olympic Committee and USA Swimming, could skyrocket.
"It was like picking a college all over again," Hansen said. "You have everything in front of you, and there's a ton of wheeling and dealing. I thought Nike was the best fit. I felt good with the company and everything Nike was all about. They treated me well. It was an easy decision."
As was the selection of Morgenstein, revered as one of the top Olympic-sports agents in the nation and a 24-7 bulldog when it comes to his clients' interests.
Representing 30-plus swimmers, including a number of Olympic medalists, Morgenstein has built Premier Management Group into a top-flight organization, one that boasts endorsements deals from Visa and Toyota, among other major companies.
Well aware of Hansen's abilities, Morgenstein had little trouble signing the 13-time NCAA champion to the PMG label. Consequently, Morgenstein now operates the endorsement careers of America's two finest breaststrokers — Hansen and Ed Moses.
"All through my career, I've been surrounded by good people, and Evan fit that mold," Hansen said. "I'm comfortable with him and felt we could have a good relationship. He knew what I was about, and that meant a lot to me. The guy works so damn hard."
Upon signing Hansen, Morgenstein immediately went to work on landing an apparel contract, while brainstorming a handful of other endorsement ideas. Taking advantage of Hansen's penchant for motivating youngsters, Morgenstein secured Hansen a speaking engagement at the Cary Academy (N.C.) swim banquet.
Morgenstein's plan for Hansen also includes appearances at youth clinics, further speaking engagements and the capitalization on Hansen's love for outdoor activities, whether it be camping, hunting or fishing.
"The thing that stoked my interest is how highly his teammates and competitors spoke of him," Morgenstein said. "I've built a company on guys like Brendan, people who are well respected and leaders. As (times) change, you need new guys who can step up and be leaders.
"One of the things we need to do with Brendan is heighten his visibility. He's a humble guy and the last one to toot his own horn. My goal isn't to burn bright in the beginning and then fizzle out, but to create continued opportunities. With Brendan, we want to provide a lifetime of earning ability."
If Hansen's summer goes according to schedule, the dollars-and-cents game will not be an issue, not that finance has ever been high on his priority list. Rather, Hansen — as much as he has in the water — has enjoyed success out of the pool, serving as an ambassador for his sport. Quite simply, he understands his role and his potential impact.
Last August, as the Delaware County Daily Times hosted its sixth Elite Meet, Hansen was present at Karakung Swim Club, his summer home for years. Two weeks removed from a three-medal haul at the FINA World Championships in Barcelona, Spain, Hansen gave back.
In addition to supplying an autographed T-shirt by Team USA, which fetched $650 in a silent auction benefiting the American Cancer Society, Hansen took time shaking hands, signing autographs and posing for pictures, the majority of which featured age-group swimmers.
"Obviously, Nike is big all over the world," Hansen said. "Kids know the name. I want to play a part in putting Nike on the swimming map, and I want to do what I can in getting kids outside of the sport involved in
swimming. That means a lot to me."
So, too, does earning a berth to the Athens Olympics. Just shy of qualifying for the Sydney Games as an 18-year-old, Hansen has been stalking an invitation to Athens for the past four years. His preparation has been flawless. A four-time medal winner between the 2001 and 2003 World Championships, Hansen has garnered the necessary international experience. Meanwhile, his career-best times indicate the potential for a podium position in Greece.
In Long Beach, Hansen is considered a contender not just for Olympic berths, but to crack the world records in the 100 (59.78) and 200 breaststrokes (2:09.42), standards currently held by Japan's Kosuke Kitajima.
"It's a short summer, but I'm in a good spot," Hansen said. "It's hard to think about the Trials right now because there's so much going on. But, that's a good thing. I know what I can do and what to expect. I'm ready to swim my best times. I'm not just trying to make the team. I'm looking to win my events."