Industry News: Ziegler Inks Deal with Speedo

LOS ANGELES, April 10. SPEEDO announced Monday the signing of 17-year-old distance swimmer Kate Ziegler to a long-term contract through 2012. Ziegler is widely considered the premier American distance female since Janet Evans and is coming off a gold in the 400 free and a silver medal in the 800 free from the World Short Course Championships in Shanghai, China.

Following a breakout season in which Ziegler won gold in the 800 and 1500 free at the 2005 FINA World Championships, she is poised to be a major medal contender at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Ziegler is also a potential 800 free relay contributor in Beijing. Ziegler is represented by Evan Morgenstein of Premier Management Group.

Ziegler joins Katie Hoff, America's other teenage sensation as a Speedo athlete. Both swimmers have opted to bypass their collegiate careers by turning professional. With Hoff looking at the 400 freestyle as a potential event on her international agenda, the two stars could clash on the big stage.

“This past year was really exciting for me, but there is still so much that lies ahead,” Ziegler said. “To follow in the footsteps of Speedo’s great American female distance swimmers and especially my hero, Janet Evans, is a huge honor and I look forward to working with the brand as I continue to train for the 2008 Olympics.

“I am also excited to work together with Speedo to promote the sport, bring excitement to the distance events and give back to kids and families who have a passion and love of swimming like I do.”

“The next generation of swimming stars is emerging in time for Beijing, and Kate Ziegler is at the front of the class,” said Sheree Waterson, President of Speedo North America. “Her insight will be valuable as the Speedo Aqualab develops technical breakthroughs over the coming years."

“Kate has a long and bright future ahead of her as one of the world’s best distance swimmers,” said Evans, the five-time Olympic medalist recognized as the best women’s distance swimmer in history. “She is one to watch in her quest to dominate the sport of distance swimming.”

A senior at Bishop O’Connell High School in Great Falls, Va., Ziegler trains with coach Ray Benecki and his club team, The Fish. She began making waves during the 2004 season. After narrowly missing the 2004 Olympic Team by finishing fourth in the 800 freestyle at the Olympic Trials, she won silver in the 800 free at the FINA Short Course World Swimming Championships in Indianapolis and gold in the 400 and 1500 free at the USA Swimming Summer Nationals that year.

In 2005, Ziegler followed her double gold medal-winning performance at the World Championships with two more national titles in the 800 and 1500 freestyles at the USA Swimming Summer Nationals. She broke the oldest short course meters American record in the 800 free at the FINA World Cup in February of 2005 and currently holds eight national titles.

In February, Kate capped her high school career with her third American record in the last four months, breaking the oldest short course yards American record in the books, the 500 freestyle, a record held since 1990 by Evans.

Ziegler joins Grant Hackett of Australia, the world’s best male distance swimmer with world records in both the 800 and 1500 free, on Team Speedo.

“Kate has already established herself as a dominant force in the distance events,” said Hackett. “I look forward to seeing her build what is sure to be an impressive career throughout the coming years.”

Team Speedo swimmers also include Olympic Gold Medalists Michael Phelps (USA), Natalie Coughlin (USA), Amanda Beard (USA), and Ian Crocker (USA).