By Craig Lord
SYDNEY, March 11. IN one of the largest single sponsorship deals ever in swimming, Speedo will support Swimming Australia to the tune of $790,000 ($1 million, Australian) a year for the next six years, with an option to extend for a further six years.
Speedo also entered into a new private deal with Grant Hackett, the double Olympic 1,500 meter freestyle champion and world record holder, but will not be able to promote its products through Ian Thorpe. The Thorpedo has long been contracted to adidas.
It is not something that Speedo will have to worry about this summer, with Thorpe having announced that he will not compete at the World Championships in Montreal in July. In his absence, Hackett, who signed a new deal with Speedo beyond national team support yesterday, is aiming to become the first man to win all three distance freestyle titles – over 400, 800 and 1,500 meters. America's Larsen Jensen and Britain's David Davies should mount strong challenges to the king.
"We have to understand regardless of Ian being there or not, there is going to be stiff opposition and it should not take away from any person's win," Hackett said.
"Ian will be sadly missed. Certainly getting up and racing Ian at any meet has been a lot of fun for me and an experience I have become accustomed to over the past few years."
On the Speedo deal, Hackett said: "I hope this will give the Australian team more exposure globally so we can continue to inspire kids, not only in Australia, but from around from the world to take up the sport and become the champions of the future.
Speedo is to develop a new and contemporary look for the Australian team in time for the World Championships in Montreal in July. The Australian team for the world championships will be announced on the final night of the trials which run from March 12-19 at the Sydney Olympic Aquatic Centre.