By Phillip Whitten
PORTLAND, Oregon, June 5. NIKE — the footwear giant — has re-entered the swimming market. With a splash!
The Portland, Oregon-based company recently signed 11 top swimmers, including nine Americans, to represent it for at least the next year. NIKE did not divulge any details of the contracts.
Topping the list is double Olympic champion and 100 meter freestyle world record-holder, Pieter van den Hoogenband, of Holland. Hoogie, who holds the global standard in swimming's blue-ribbon event at 47.84, is the only man ever to crack 48 seconds. He's done it four times.
Italy's Alessio Boggiatto, the defending World champion in the 400 IM, also inked a contract with the company.
The USA's Haley Cope, world champion in the 50 meter backstroke, renewed her contract with NIKE.
New to the NIKE fold are:
Jason Lezak, 2000 Olympian and the world's #1-ranked 50 meter freestyler in 2002;
Kristy Kowal, 2000 Olympic silver medalist and the American record-holder in the 200m breaststroke;
Maritza Correia, American record-holder in the 50 yard freestyle and #2 all-time in the 100;
Maggie Bowen, defending World champion in the 200m IM and American record-holder in the 200 yard IM;
Erin Phenix, 2000 Olympic gold-medalist (in prelims) in the 400m freestyle relay;
Tommy Hannan, 2000 Olympic gold medalist swimming fly (in prelims) in the 400m medley relay;
David Denniston, won several events on the 2002-03 FINA World Cup tour; and
Aaron Ciarla, outstanding sprinter who won an NCAA title in the 50 yard free.