USA Swimming breaks up with Speedo, hooks up with Arena… And what that means for the sport…
They see themselves in iconic company with Xerox and Kleenex and Coke. Companies whose names became synonymous with the products they sold. It’s not a photo copy or a tissue or a soda, it’s the brand itself. For swimmers, for decades, you wore a Speedo, as in a tight-fitting racing suit. For a very long time, they were one of the ultimate examples of this name-branded success. No longer.
It’s time to remove Speedo from that list of brand behemoths that own their categories with ubiquitous dominance. They’ve lost a stroke and the biggest evidence of all just presented itself. After 27 years, they are no longer the exclusive sponsor of the greatest swim team on earth – USA Swimming. Days ago, the folks at USA Swimming announced that it was now pursuing an open marriage, opening themselves to non-exclusive deals with other swimwear sponsors. Its new suitor and the new title sponsor of the U.S. National Team? Speedo’s biggest rival, Arena.
Now this is a bit like being married to Michael Phelps for many years, and then one day the wife says to Michael – You know, honey, I think it’s time we saw other people… And then she jumps into bed with Ryan Lochte. But, you know, she still stays with Michael, sort of, when it’s convenient.