Michael Phelps, the world’s most decorated Olympian, has ditched his Speedos to form a long-term partnership with Italian swimsuit maker, Aqua Sphere.
Phelps has been linked to Speedo throughout his swimming career, but their relationship expired in January, when the athlete described himself as a “free agent” in the swimwear market.
Now, Phelps and his coach, Bob Bowman, will work with Aqua Sphere on a line of products beyond racing suits, all carrying the swimmer’s name.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
"Throughout my career, I’ve been able to do a lot of things with Speedo. The relationship was great," Phelps told The Associated Press. "But we came to a point where we had an opportunity to really change the sport and grow the sport even more."
Phelps’ and Bowman’s goals are to improve the technical aspects of swimming products and increase water safety, not only for the elite-level competitive swimmer, but for entry-level and fitness swimmers.
A primary focus will be transforming the overall retail experience for consumers with products that are presented in the context of "progressive instructional programming".
Aqua Sphere plans to utilize its design, development and manufacturing expertise and leverage the company’s international distribution channels and retail partnerships with its 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,” said Aqua Sphere business line manager Todd 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.”