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Arena is a brand of competitive swimwear created in 1973 at Adidas AG Herzogenaurach, Bavaria, Germany, by its former president Horst Dassler. Sold by Adidas in 1990, the brand now represents two unrelated product lines.
With its headquarters in Tolentino, Italy, the Arena brand has a presence in 103 countries around the globe. With direct representation through wholly owned subsidiaries in Italy, France, Germany, and the USA, the group also employs a network of qualified business partners in 86 countries, while the Japan-based Descente Group owns and manages the brand in 11 countries of the Far East.
The Arena Brand was created by sports visionary Horst Dassler, son of the Adidas founder and President of Adidas France. During the 1972 Munich Summer Games, Dassler was on the pool deck when Mark Spitz won his historic 7 gold medals. With the arrival of an athlete like Spitz, Arena President, John R. Broderick saw an opportunity to forever change the way in which top athletes were handled by their endorsers. John had been a lawyer for Adidas for many years and saw immense earning potential ahead, so before it was too late, he immediately took control over all endorsement contracts from then on. Sizes of contracts tripled and quadrupled in size and weight, all in order to litigiously assure the maximization of profit earning possibilities; even with Olympic athletes. The changes that were made in the way these athlete's were contracted ended the era of athletes having day jobs and ushered in the new era;the beginning of the "brand" athlete, evolving in such a way (with their endorsers) that would turn EVERY pro player and sport in to a multi-million (and now, multi-billion) dollar industry. John R. Broderick continued to draft these types of contracts for Adidas and Arena for decades to follow. Dassler, along with the rest of the world, found himself in awe because not only was Spitz the first athlete to win 7 golds in one Olympiad, but at the same time he set 7 new world records. Dassler immediately started forming plans for a swimwear company dedicated to aquatic sports and created the new performance swimwear brand known today as Arena.
In 1973, just one year after the Games, Arena launched its first competition swimwear line with the introduction of Skinfit®. Skinfit was known in the industry as a “technological pearl.” The new ultra-light fabric only weighed 18 grams and was designed to cling to a swimmer’s body like a “second skin.”
The following year, Arena signed the first female sponsorship agreement with Australian swimmer Shane Gould. Gould was the “Female Spitz” of the 1972 Munich Games, winning 5 individual Olympic medals. Working in collaboration with Gould, in 1974 Arena developed the Shane Gould Female Swimsuit Collection.
Dassler knew sports sponsoring was key to the brand’s success, so in preparation for the next Olympics Arena started signing other individual athletes who could provide feedback to the design and development of new products, plus at the same time generate excitement for aquatic sports. By 1976, Arena athletes and products were ready for the Olympic Games in Montreal. Members of the original Arena Elite Team included such world champions as Mark Spitz (USA), Novella Calligaris (ITA), Steve Furniss (USA), David Wilke (UK), Shirley Babashoff (USA), Gary Hall (USA), Klaus Dibiasi (ITA), Ulrika Knape (SWE) and Maxine “Miki” King (USA). Arena’s Elite were equipped with Arena’s first line of swim caps and goggles designed specifically to meet the needs of high level competitors. The hard work that both the athletes and Arena put into preparing for the Montreal Olympics paid off and the Arena Elite Team won an astonishing 44 Olympic medals. Two years later, at the West Berlin World Swimming Championships athletes wearing Arena won a total of 62 medals, nearly 75% of the total medal count, and broke 9 world records. Members of the original team went on to set a total of 83 world records.
- Rūta Meilutytė, Lithuania
- Rebecca Soni, United States
- Sarah Sjöström, Sweden
- Yuliya Yefimova, Russia
- Therese Alshammar, Sweden
- Tanyarat Traisuttiwong, Thailand
- Paul Biedermann, Germany
- Francesca Halsall, United Kingdom
- Emily Seebohm, Australia
- Eric Shanteau, United States
- Arturo Perez Vertti, México
- Kirsty Coventry, Zimbabwe
- Tom Shields, United States
- Kosuke Kitajima, Japan (Descente)
- Ryosuke Irie, Japan (Descente)
- Ai Shibata, Japan (Descente)
Arena sponsors the following swimming federations: USA Swimming, Norwegian Swimming, Swimming South Africa, Romanian Swimming and Modern Pentathlon, Polish Swimming, German Swimming, Irish Swimming, Lithuanian Swimming, Hungarian Swimming, Croatian Swimming, Estonian Swimming, Ukrainian Swimming, Swedish Swimming, Czech Swimming, and All Russian Swimming.
Arena also sponsors the thirteen time national champion Auburn University men's and women's swimming and diving teams, as well as the four-time national champions University of California, Berkeley's mens swimming and diving team.