Global water instinct brand arena has signed a sponsorship agreement with Australian backstroke swimmer and 2015 double world champion, Mitch Larkin. The new deal follows the 22-year-old’s heroics at the recent FINA World Championships in Kazan, Russia, where he became the first swimmer since 2005 to win both 100 and 200 backstroke titles at a World Championships. Larkin becomes the sixth Australian expected to compete at the 2016 Rio Olympics as part of the three-diamond brand’s Elite Team of champions.
Leading up to the 2014 international swimming season, Larkin had shown promise by reaching the 200 backstroke finals at the 2012 London Olympics, and competing at the 2011 and 2013 World Championships, but he had yet to win a major international medal. However, by the end of the year all that had changed as he established himself as a serious podium contender in his main events. First, at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, he won the 200 backstroke title and picked up silver medals in the 50 and 100, along with the 4×100 medley relay, and then went on to win bronze medals in 200 backstroke and the medley relay at the Pan Pacific Championships on Australia’s Gold Coast. He capped off a fine year with gold and bronze medals in 100 and 200 backstroke at the World Short Course Championships in Doha.
It was a sign of things to come, and his rapid rise continued at the 2015 Australian Nationals where he swam a 53.10 personal best in the 100 backstroke on his way to two national backstroke titles. Four months later in Kazan, Larkin took his career to new heights as he won Australia’s only individual gold medals on the men’s side with the 100-200 backstroke double, emulating the feat of legendary backstroker Aaron Peirsol, who last accomplished the feat in 2005. In the 100 backstroke, Larkin improved his personal best in both his heat (52.50) and the semi-finals (52.38) – setting new Oceanic records in the process – before winning a very tight final by a touch in 52.40. In the 200, he once again set a new Oceanic record in his semi (1:54.29) before repeating the feat in the final with the eighth-fastest time in history (1:53.58), breaking a 17-year US strangelhold on the event in the process.
Larkin is based in Brisbane, where he trains with coach Michael Bohl at the St. Peters Western club. He joins fellow Australians Cate and Bronte Campbell, James Magnussen, Emily Seebohm and Thomas Fraser-Holmes in the arena Elite Team of champions.
“I’m really excited to be teaming up with a brand as strong as arena,” said Larkin. “Over the past few years they’ve really set the standard in racing suits, and so to be working with them at this stage of my career is a real winner for me. I’m looking forward to taking things a step further with arena, particularly as we build towards Rio.”
“Mitch was the standout performer on the Australian men’s roster in Kazan, and so to be able to welcome him to the arena fold is a great catch for us,” said Giuseppe Musciacchio, arena General Manager of Brand Development. “It’s going to be really exciting working with him as his career starts to accelerate, and with Rio less than a year away, our collective focus will only start intensifying. This deal also marks another step forward in our ongoing expansion into Australia, which is obviously one of the world’s biggest swimming markets, one in which we’ve had recent top-level successes with Mitch’s compatriots the Campbell sisters, Emily (Seebohm) – who also won her own backstroke double in Kazan – Thomas Fraser-Holmes, and James Magnussen as he works himself back into shape after surgery. Along with his talented national teammates, we’re looking forward to helping Mitch realize his great potential at Rio and beyond.”
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