Written By: Colin Faris
I never put much emphasis on a team sponsorship from a personal standpoint, until recently. Now, is it fun to see the bright new shiny gear some other teams wear and joke with your co-workers about wishing you had that? Of course. But to take a real step into looking at a team contract with another brand was something I never really did. But to see the benefits that each provided, and know your buying power as a club, can change your perspective.
At Excel Aquatics, we had been a Speedo team basically since team contracts were a staple to clubs; and it made sense at the time. A vast majority of the market was saturated in Speedo gear. Speedo had all the major tie-ins with different teams/organizations including USA Swimming and events across the U.S. Non-swimmers even know the brand Speedo due to the attachment to the brief style suit. But as you have seen in the past eight to ten years, many other brands have risen to prominence in our world. Arena USA can be found on USA Swimming’s Swim Shop, the TYR Pro Series has stops across the U.S., as well as other brands taking shape with teams all over the country.
As I mentioned, Excel Aquatics was a Speedo team. From my perspective, there were not any issues with that agreement. This past year, our staff decided to see what other options were out there. First, we started by looking at the numbers. What do we bring to the table? What kind of equipment sales did we have the past two years? What did we require from a team standpoint in terms of specific branded gear? Next, we broke down our current contract and saw what we liked and did not like. We kept those key points as we began talking to all brands who were interested.
As we began talking to brands, I started to realize the benefit of knowing ahead of time what our value was in this partnership. This contract was more than just some polos and shirts our staff wore and more than a discounted suit and warm-up gear for our athletes. For us, TYR checked all the boxes we were looking for. With this new brand on our side, it was now an opportunity for us, at Excel, to rebrand ourselves.
Having families embrace the change was our next obstacle. Today’s reach with social media can be a great service to a team. We immediately took to our platforms and began utilizing posts to share the great news. Our staff began to look for more team standards, including specific TYR equipment verses just any style center mount snorkel or paddles. For newly branded items, it is tough to ask families to drop all their current gear - which in some instances could be almost brand-new gear due to pool/facility closures. Although we are not trying to require any deadlines for TYR gear for families, rather, we are having positive conversations about the benefit of purchasing new equipment when needed and to look at TYR when moving forward.
Now, the most important question is – does anyone know how to pull the seams out of a sown logo polo without making a hole? Asking for a friend.
Coach Colin is the current Associate Head Coach with Excel Aquatics. Colin has been with Excel since 2014. Coach Colin swam both YMCA & USA as an age grouper. While swimming in high school, Colin finished 3rd in the 50 Freestyle at YMCA Nationals. Colin swam at the University of Kentucky where he was an NCAA All-American on the 200 Freestyle Relay. Colin qualified for the 2012 USA Swimming Olympic Trials in the 50 Freestyle. Coach Colin grew up in Maysville, KY. He graduated from the University of Kentucky in the summer of 2018. He enjoys working on his house in Spring Hill, or at least tries to keep anything from breaking. Coach Colin is also involved with both our LSC and Zone. He was an Assistant Coach for the 2017 Southern Zone Select Camp, 2016 Head Coach and 2015 Assistant Coach for the Southeastern All-Star Zone Team, & 2017 Assistant and 2016 Head Coach for the Southeastern Open Water Zone Team. He is the current LSC Camps Chair & Secretary.While with Excel, Coach Colin has coached multiple Top 20 Nationally ranked swimmers, USA Junior National qualifiers, USA Futures qualifiers, NCSA Jr qualifiers, ESSZ Age Group Sectional qualifiers and champions, & Southeastern qualifiers and champions for the past 7+ seasons. Colin also has been the Entry Chair for all hosted swim meets. He has helped bring a new level of competition to our home meets from neighboring states. His coaching philosophy: I want to bring a balance of both fun and work in the pool. I feel that as a coach, my job is to allow swimmers to grow in the sport until they are 18. I am constantly trying to think outside the box in terms of what I have learned, not only using one set model to coach every athlete.