VISTA, Calif. (August 5, 2014)— 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 and 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.”
"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 lack the appropriate context in order to maximize their swimming experience."
- Michael Phelps
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 benefited 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 lack the appropriate context in order to maximize their swimming experience.”
“I was drawn to North Baltimore Aquatic Club because of their 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 their success at the club level. Over the years, Michael and I have experimented, failed, and succeeded in our approach and, regardless 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 that 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 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 it is 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.
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, all made in Italy. 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 swimwear brand. 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.
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 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 industry has led to the demand of Aqua Lung equipment for recreational, technical and military applications in more than 30 countries around the world, under numerous brand names including, Sea Quest, Deep See, U.S. Divers, Apeks, Aqua Sphere and Stohlquist. For more information, visit www.aqualung.com.
Stephanie Proos for Aqua Sphere
Drew Johnson for Michael Phelps & Bob Bowman