INDUSTRY NEWS: Natalie Coughlin Signs with Speedo

LOS ANGELES, April 29. SPEEDO, the top-selling swimwear brand in the world, announced an endorsement deal with world-record-holding American swimmer Natalie Coughlin. The multi-year contract runs through 2009.

Natalie is a versatile threat in several Olympic events in Athens, including the 100 and 200m freestyle, 100 and 200m backstroke and 100m butterfly.

Coughlin is represented by Janey Miller of Janey Miller Management.

Coughlin, 21, has one of the most decorated résumés of any current swimmer in the world. In her career, Coughlin has broken six world records and thirty-five American records. She has won six World Championship medals and nine U.S. National titles.

Named female "World Swimmer of the Year" in 2002 and female "American Swimmer of the Year" in 2001 and '02. Natalie, a two-time Sullivan Award finalist, was also named NCAA Swimmer of the Year for three consecutive years (2001-'03) and the 2003 Women's Sports Foundation's "SportsWoman of the Year."

"Speedo has the best products, the most dedicated research group and the fastest swimsuit in the world – the Fastskin FSII," said Coughlin. "This support allows me to focus on achieving my dream of winning Olympic Gold."

"Our belief in Natalie is long term," said Joe Gromek, President and CEO, The Warnaco Group, Inc., The Warnaco Swim Group’s parent company. "We are proud that she will be wearing Speedo products at the 2004 Athens Olympics and the 2008 Beijing Olympics."

Coughlin recently completed her collegiate swimming career at the University of California at Berkeley, having won 11 out of a possible 12 individual events at the NCAA Championships. Speedo has included a unique aspect to her contract, which provides for five percent of the performance bonus money she earns to go directly to the swim program at her alma mater.

"I really believe in the collegiate experience and enjoyed my four years with the Cal-Berkeley swim program," said Coughlin. "Speedo's inclusion of a contribution to the program is a thoughtful recognition of my belief in giving back to the program that help me to get where I am today."

Coughlin continues to train in Berkeley with the California Aquatics Swim Club under Coach Teri McKeever.

Coughlin currently holds the world record in the 100-meter backstroke, set at the 2002 US National Championships, where she became the first woman to break the one-minute mark (59.58 seconds) in that event. Coughlin won five national titles at that meet, becoming the first woman since Tracy Caulkins in 1978 to achieve that feat. She later was named USA Swimming's Athlete of the Year.

"Aside from her outstanding accomplishments in the water, Natalie has one of the most engaging personalities in the sport," said Roger Williams, President and COO, The Warnaco Swim Group. "We want to use the excitement she creates to connect with a younger audience, not only with our cutting-edge technology, but also with the fun and relaxed side of Speedo, which features boardshorts and bikinis."

Coughlin will face the best swimmers in the nation at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Swimming in Long Beach, Calif., July 7 –14, to earn a spot on the U.S. Olympic Team.

Team Speedo swimmers include world record-holders Michael Phelps (USA), Amanda Beard (USA) and Kosuke Kitijima (JPN), as well as Olympic Gold Medalists Lenny Krayzelburg (USA), Jenny Thompson (USA), Grant Hackett (AUS) and Inge de Bruijn (NED).

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