The swimwear manufacturer TYR has recently been swimming with the big fish.
In the performance swimwear industry, TYR Sport Inc. was the archetypal upstart ten years ago.
While Michael Phelps and Team USA were swimming to gold in Beijing, TYR was suing USA Swimming and Speedo in federal court, claiming the two had illegally collaborated to suppress competition.
Despite the Setback, TYR is now well Recognised as an Industry Insider 10 Years Later.
This summer marks TYR’s debut as the title sponsor of the TYR Pro Swim Series, USA Swimming’s premier domestic circuit.
Katie Ledecky, winner of five Olympic gold medals, announced her departure from Stanford in June and signed a seven-year contract with TYR, reportedly the most lucrative endorsement agreement in swimming history.
After signing Ledecky, TYR bolstered its 2018 roster with Simone Manuel, another member of Ledecky’s Stanford squad.
The Huntington Beach, California-based company, co-founded by Olympic veteran Steve Furniss and Joseph DiLorenzo, has been steadily growing since its inception in 1995. After a pivotal decision was made by USA Swimming in 2012, the sport has steadily improved without a massive influx of funding or a dramatic shift in the competitive scene.
In doing so, USA Swimming opened up the gear category to as many as four different businesses, ending a 27-year exclusive agreement with Speedo.
The federation believes that the challenger brands will campaign aggressively if given the chance alongside the incumbent, which will boost the total swimming market.
This is not a direct outcome of the litigation, according to USA Swimming CMO Matt Farrell.
Matt DiLorenzo, Joseph’s son and the CEO of the private company since 2010, remarked, “It allowed us to showcase who we really are.”
“Just the opportunity to go to these sportsmen and start to tell the tale, that was the beginning,” the company’s founder said, “We had a rich tradition and a lot of technically breakthrough items.”
After 2012, Speedo’s nonexclusive gear rights were shared with TYR and Arena, a European brand founded in 1973 by Horst Dassler, son of Adidas founder Adi. While Speedo later added a few major events and Arena held the title for the pro series, TYR began with the bare minimum.
There’s no Reason to Assume TYR didn’t exist before that time.
During same time period, it also became a partner of the French Swimming Federation and signed American swimmer Matt Grevers.
However, it wasn’t until the 2010s that things began to click into place. In 2012, Grevers took home his first individual Olympic gold medal.
Recently, TYR signed contracts with the swimming teams of Britain, Denmark, and Switzerland, as well as with LEN (the European aquatics organisation).
After the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, TYR’s Success in Signing Athletes took off.
Despite the fact that he is currently serving his second extended disciplinary penalty, this time for having an intravenous infusion for more than the authorised amount, TYR signed Ryan Lochte after Speedo decided not to renew with him after the Rio gas station controversy.
Ledecky noted the 2017 signings of Leah Smith and Lia Neal as a reason for choosing TYR over Speedo, which has traditionally enjoyed preferential access to the elite young swimmers.
I’ve seen more swimmers wearing the TYR racing suits at national level meetings, and that was just in the months leading up to me signing on with TYR, Ledecky said. “I think TYR has developed significantly, and that’s a credit to the effort they’ve put forth.”
Taking over the Pro Swim Series after Arena decided to leave the partnership last year was a huge coup for TYR.
It’s a great place to meet coaches, clubs, families, and athletes, which is half the battle in a sport where product preferences from swimmer to swimmer are sometimes hard to define and mainly influenced by personal preference and exposure.
According to DiLorenzo, the company’s sponsorship business has been so successful that it has contributed to annual revenue growth of double digits during this decade.
There are now 35 members of Team TYR, and they can always use more people to compete in swimming and triathlon. A financial “reach,” as DiLorenzo put it, “the Ledecky contract was not,” and the company has “a big list of target athletes.”
While DiLorenzo’s father is still the company’s owner, TYR is operating under the radar.
When the clothing contracts end in 2020, USA Swimming will have an opportunity to reevaluate its nonexclusive strategy.
However, top management is pleased with the strategy’s results. Farrell predicted that this trend would carry on.