Aqua Sphere, the ‘premier swimming equipment manufacturer for fitness and recreational swimming, aquatic exercise and triathlons,’ has formed 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 partnership will ‘result in the development of innovative products that are inclusive and accessible to a broader range of swimmers and non-swimmers across the full swimming lifecycle.’
Aqua Sphere notes that it ‘maintains a stronghold on the design and production of swimwear, wetsuits, eyewear, and accessories for triathletes, open-water, and fitness swimmers,’ and that this partnership will expand the company’s industry-leading product offerings to the competitive swimming community.
A signature line 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 at Aqua Sphere. “We are honoured 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.”
He continued, “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 line complete with instructional context that will minimize the barrier to entry regardless of skill level.”
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.’
Swim coaching and curriculum
This also developed a coaching program that aims to appeal to a broader, more diverse audience. Their approach has proven successful with the adaptation of the curriculum being implemented through learn-to-swim initiatives including Boys & Girls Clubs of America and Special Olympics International, which currently reaches 33 clubs across 26 US states and 66 Special Olympics teams across 34 countries including Australia, Brazil, China, India, 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 Bob 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,” added Todd Mitchell. “We are energized by the challenge to design, develop and package a premier line that is inclusive and available for swimmers of all skill levels around the world.”
Pool to store
The health and wellness benefits of swimming are well documented; however, water can still be 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 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 parent company Aqua Lung, whose heritage in manufacturing ground-breaking aquatic equipment for adventure, recreation and professional use 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 underwater exploration possible, which formally evolved into SCUBA (self-contained underwater breathing apparatus) in 1945.