Michael Phelps Signs With Aqua Sphere

Editorial coverage for U.S. Senior Nationals proudly sponsored by Master Spas!

IRVINE, California, August 5. ON the eve of the USA Swimming Senior National Championships, the Associated Press has reported that Michael Phelps has signed a deal with Aqua Sphere.

Phelps, who had spent his entire professional career with Speedo, told the AP today that he will be working with Aqua Sphere to try to help expand the sport of swimming even more. One big news item from the AP report is that the deal is expected to run through the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

“Throughout my career, I’ve been able to do a lot of things with Speedo. The relationship was great,” Phelps told The Associated Press. “But we came to a point where we had an opportunity to really change the sport and grow the sport even more.”

The deal is a partnership with Phelps and his coach Bob Bowman, who will also work with Aqua Sphere to help design its first racing suit for swimming. Aqua Sphere is more well known for its experience in triathlons and recreational swimming.

“It’s really just an investment of our time,” Bowman said. “I think they have all the wherewithal and infrastructure to make it happen. It’s really exciting for us to actually be able to create some things whereas normally it’s just something where we pick out something and use it. Now, we can tailor and make some things to the way we’d like swimming to go, the things that we think are important.”

Aqua Sphere produced the following video with Phelps explaining why he decided to sign with the company.

Aqua Sphere is obviously thrilled to have The Greatest of All Time on its roster.

“Once we heard he was coming out of retirement, we stayed on the same track,” Aqua Sphere CEO Don Rockwell said. “But this is a big opportunity for us.”

As details of the deal emerge, it will be interesting to see if Phelps was able to secure a similar signature-series contract as Michael Jordan did with Nike when it debuted the Air Jordan line.  In 1985, Jordan signed the most lucrative contract of his career when he entered a true partnership with Nike as part of its Air Jordan line.  Decades later, the Air Jordan line is still going strong and Michael Jordan still sees revenue from the line.

Should Phelps, already the best swimmer in the history of the sport, be able to create a similar Phelps line of products, the financial impact on his life could be life-altering as it would create a lasting legacy that could live long past the time Phelps decides to head into a second, and permanent, retirement.

Full Associated Press Story

Photo Courtesy: Aqua Sphere

Photo Courtesy: Aqua Sphere

Aqua Sphere has since confirmed the story with its official announcement:

VISTA, Calif., Aug. 5, 2014 /PRNewswire/ — Aqua Sphere, the premier swimming equipment manufacturer for fitness and recreational swimming, aquatic exercise and triathlons, today announced the formation of a long-term strategic partnership with the greatest swimmer of all-time, Michael Phelps, and Hall of Fame Coach Bob Bowman. Led by Aqua Sphere’s pioneering aquatics equipment and global distribution, and combined with Phelps’ and Bowman’s extensive expertise and knowledge for swim training at every level, the Phelps brand will develop innovative products that are inclusive and accessible to a broader range of swimmers and non-swimmers across the full swimming lifecycle.

Aqua Sphere maintains a stronghold on the design and production of swimwear, wetsuits, eyewear, and accessories for triathletes, open-water, and fitness swimmers, and the partnership with Phelps and Bowman will expand the company’s industry-leading product offerings to the competitive swimming community. The partnership will include a diverse collection of swim products and accessories designed for every level of swimmer with a focus on comfort and performance.

“Michael Phelps is one of the select global icons in all of sports, while Coach Bob Bowman is a true swimming mastermind,” said Todd Mitchell, business line manager, Aqua Sphere. “We are honored to align our rich history of innovative aquatic technology and international distribution with their passion for the sport and commitment to share their knowledge and experiences with others in this collaborative line. Their positive impact and influence in the aquatics community transcends cultural borders. Together, we have an extraordinary opportunity to inspire and educate consumers about the full lifestyle of swimming through a premier brand complete with instructional context that will minimize the barrier to entry, regardless of skill level.”

Phelps’ accomplishments in the pool inspired unprecedented international interest and participation in swimming—a stated goal of his from the very beginning of his career. In an effort to promote water safety and swimming as an activity beyond the competitive realm, Phelps and Bowman transformed the instructional teaching program that supported Phelps’ own progression through the learn-to-swim, competitive, and elite levels of sport, into the Michael Phelps Swimming methodology and developed programming appealing to a broader, more diverse audience. Their approach has proven successful with the adaptation of the curriculum being implemented through the Boys & Girls Clubs of America and Special Olympics International, which currently reaches 37 clubs across 29 states and 75 Special Olympics teams across 34 countries including Australia, Brazil, China, India, Italy, Mexico, Russia, South Africa, and the United Kingdom, among others. 

“Bob and I share a passion for swimming that goes well beyond practice sessions and competitions, and we have always talked about how we could improve different aspects within the sport,” said Phelps. “I benefitted from being exposed to a tremendous swimming curriculum at the entry level that helped propel me through the various stages of the sport; over time, I realized that such programming and instruction is not widely available, and so we have tried to address that through programming we develop at the Michael Phelps Swim School. We’ve also seen over the years how certain technical aspects of swimming products and teaching aids could be improved, not only for the elite-level competitive swimmer, but also for entry-level and fitness swimmers. With Aqua Sphere’s product design and development capabilities, we believe there is an opportunity to help make the sport more inviting to others by recognizing that everyone begins at different levels, requires assistance matching their skills with products, and lacks the appropriate context in order to maximize their swimming experience.”

“I was drawn to North Baltimore Aquatic Club because of its tradition of excellence well before we even knew Michael Phelps existed,” said Bowman. “When I first arrived in Baltimore it was very evident to me that the emphasis on water safety and instructional development at the early stages of swimming was a primary factor in its success at the club level. Over the years, Michael and I have experimented, failed, and succeeded in our approach and, regardless of how many medals have been awarded, we are both constantly learning and evolving. We have integrated this knowledge into practical execution through the swim school, and aligning with Aqua Sphere provides us with tremendous resources to further advance the sport to a greater audience.”

A primary focus will be transforming the overall retail experience for consumers with products that are thoughtfully presented in the context of progressive instructional programming and provides appropriate education and recommendations through the various stages of the swimming lifecycle. Aqua Sphere will utilize its design, development and manufacturing expertise and leverage the company’s international distribution channels and retail partnerships with its parent company, Aqua Lung, for a global footprint in more than 90 countries.

“From our first conversations with Michael and Bob, it was very evident that their goals and aspirations for swimming extend well beyond the competition pool. We are energized by the challenge to design, develop and package a premier brand that is inclusive and available for swimmers of all skill levels around the world,” added Mitchell. 

The health and wellness benefits of swimming are well documented; however, water can be very intimidating for many consumers. With a concerted effort to expand the available reach of industry-leading swim programming and products, the partnership will strive to help address the global need for water-safety and learn-to-swim initiatives. 

“I was first exposed to swimming through a water-safety program and, like many others, I had a fear of being in the water because I did not like to get my face wet,” added Phelps. “Our program is focused on building comfort and confidence in the water, and we intend to enhance the consumer experience from the pool to the store so that it’s less confusing and much more informative in an effort to make water safety and instructional development available across the globe.”

Widely regarded for its innovative technology, quality design, performance and comfort, Aqua Sphere began in Genoa, Italy in 1998 with the launch of the cutting-edge Seal Mask that completely revolutionized the traditional swim goggle design with a patented curved lens for increased peripheral vision and a comfortable, form-fitting watertight seal. The company’s history of innovation is born from the entrepreneurial spirit of Aqua Lung whose heritage in manufacturing ground-breaking aquatic equipment for adventure, recreation, and professional use that dates back to 1943. Captain Jacques-Yves Cousteau teamed with Emile Gagnan to develop the first “aqua-lung,” a demand breathing regulator for underwater use that made extended exploration possible, which formally evolved into SCUBA (self-contained underwater breathing apparatus) in 1945.

To learn more about Aqua Sphere and its products, please visit www.AquaSphereSwim.com.

About Aqua Sphere

Established in Genoa, Italy, in 1998, Aqua Sphere is the premier swimming equipment manufacturer for fitness and recreational swimming, aquatic exercise and triathlons. With the launch of its cutting-edge Seal Mask, the world’s first swim mask, the company set the industry standard and today continues to innovate with a complete range of premium products, including eye protection, swimwear, triathlon wetsuits, footwear, and swim fitness and training accessories. The designs have gained the respect and loyal following of many celebrities and notable athletes, including the world’s most decorated Olympian Michael Phelps, with whom Aqua Sphere is partnering to develop a global brand partnership. Alongside its parent company Aqua Lung and supported by an international distribution network, Aqua Sphere has grown into a worldwide enterprise representing unparalleled design, development and manufacturing expertise, with a global footprint in more than 90 countries. For more information, visit www.AquaSphereSwim.com,http://www.Facebook.com/AquaSphereSwim, or http:/www.Twitter.com/AquaSphereSwim.

About Aqua Lung

Aqua Lung pioneered the creation of modern diving equipment in 1943 when Captain Jacques-Yves Cousteau teamed with Emile Gagnan to develop the first “aqua-lung” that made underwater exploration possible. Today, the brand continues to be the leading global designer and manufacturer of dive and water sports gear. With a deep commitment to quality, research and testing, Aqua Lung has revolutionized the scuba diving experience by setting industry standards for scuba equipment in technology, comfort, safety and design. The company’s rich history as an expert in the dive and water sports industry has led to the demand of Aqua Lung equipment for recreational, technical and military applications in more than 90 countries around the world, under brand names, Aqua Sphere, Apeks, U.S. Divers, and Stohlquist. For more information, visit www.AquaLung.comhttp://www.Facebook.com/AquaLungDivers, orhttp://twitter.com/AquaLungDivers.  


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Author: Jason Marsteller

Jason Marsteller is the general manager of digital properties at Swimming World. He joined Swimming World in June 2006 as the managing editor after previous stints as a media relations professional at Indiana University, the University of Tennessee, Southern Utah University and the Utah Summer Games.

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