Swim fans are clamoring to the Speedo store inside the CenturyLink Center's Aqua Zone, the brand's ever-evolving technology helping to power Olympic athletes and hopefuls in town for the Swim Trials.
The temporary retail space has everything from flip flops to goggles, but what they’re known for is their suits, which many athletes say help performance. "We're not really a spectator brand," said Jim Gerson, president of Speedo.
While Gerson said the brand offers something for just about anyone, fans noted that many of the looks take a finely tuned athletic body to fill. “My husband wouldn’t be caught dead in them,” joked Sandy Prendergast of Newton, Iowa. “And neither would I.”
But her sister-in-law, Marcy Hart of Dallas chimed in, “I have one that I wear a lot. They make a nice halter.”
The women attended the trials to watch their nephew Nathaniel Hart from the University of Virginia compete in the 200-meter butterfly. And yes, he was donning a Speedo.
Hart believes what he wears makes a difference when it comes to his performance. “I'm really a big taper swimmer and especially when I'm wearing a fast suit I feel like I float more up in the water and I slide through."
Dana Vollmer, who’s already secured her spot on the U.S. Swim Team, said a suit isn’t the end all or be all,but “just the confidence that I have when I put it on. It's gonna help me, it's not gonna hinder me."
Vollmer’s choice for competition comes from Speedo’s Fast Skin line, which rolled out in November to meet the deadline for Olympics wear. “One of our suits has its own compression so it actually helps shape the body. So the more it's shaped into a torpedo, the faster you go through the water,” Gerson said.
“I think that the compression helps,” said Vollmer. “And I always wear the double-cap with my goggles underneath."
“In the past it’s always been about the suit,” said Gerson. But now, “we incorporate the suit, cap and goggle, working together harmoniously to get you the best results in the water.”
The styles have changed dramatically through the years. From the perspective of Ty Rocca, who swims for the Gator Swim Club out of Florida, men’s suits, “were the best when the were the full body because instead of just having your legs buoyant, it was your whole chest and torso.”
He now wears a Speedo laser suit, which he believes helped him propel his way through four state championships. “It’s kind of a lucky suit for me." He also wears a newer cap, which doesn’t wrinkle, keeping him more “hydrodynamic.”
Vollmer added that technology has come a long way. “I like that we've gone away from the floater suits of 2009 and I think it's more the athlete talent showing now."
Ryan Bubb, a Lincoln East graduate swimming for Ohio State is among the athletes sporting a different brand at the trials. “In all honesty, I think the brand is just a mental game. I think you can go fast wearing any brand, any suit.”
And whichever brand of suit swimmers go with, they have to allow some time to get into it. “It takes me like 20-25 minutes the first time. After that, 5-10 minutes after you get in the groove.”
So, who rocks a Speedo the best? “David Plummer maybe,” said Tammy Hannaman of Farmington, Minnesota, “Because he’s from Minnesota.”
Her friend Karla Sundt’s mind immediately went to the top male contenders. “Lochte, Phelps, not bad,” quickly adding, “But there’s a lot of handsome swimmers here.”
Many of the men and women competing in those top tier positions have designed their own jerseys, which are on sale at the Speedo shop for $24 a piece. Vollmer’s and Ryan Lochte’s have been moving off the shelves the quickest, brand representatives said.
Each day of the trials, the store is open from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. within the Aqua Zone. The Aqua Zone itself is open to the public from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Fans can order the same gear that's available at the Swim Trials, by going to: SpeedoUSA.com.