Courtesy of Competitor, a SwimSwam partner.
Competitor has a long history in the swimming world, starting as a division of Kiefer-McNeal in 1968 in Akron, Ohio. With distributors throughout the United States and in countries around the world, Competitor has grown into the internationally recognized and admired brand and industry leader that it is today.
Since that time, Competitor has gone on to secure partnerships with both USA Swimming and the NCAA, making Competitor the official lane lines of both organizations. Throughout the past 53 years, Competitor has been front and center at the majority of the NCAA Championships, USA Swimming Olympic Trials, and 10 Olympic Games.
Current President of Competitor, Brad Underwood, acquired the company in the fall of 2012. Bringing with him 20 years of experience in management, product development, and sales in the sports industry, Brad knew Competitor had a strong, well-established brand in the aquatics industry, but also recognized that there were things that could be improved. “Once I bought the company, I just started asking customers, dealers, employees, what can we fix, where can we get better.”
Brad emphasizes that “our goal at Competitor will always be to offer superior customer service and quality products in a timely manner.” Competitor takes great pride in putting the needs of the swimmers first. “I want the Competitor name to be held in high regard by our distributors, industry leaders, and swim coaches, and most of all by our swimmers who are the inspiration for our standard of quality and excellence.”
The company is continually researching and developing the best products, from material to the ease of the use of the product, to ensure that the end-users will have the best product and experience. What Brad calls a “game-changer” for the Competitor brand was the development of the LifeSpan+™ formula that goes into each Competitor lane line. Developed in collaboration with the University of Akron Institute of Polymer Science & Polymer Engineering and A. Schulman, a leading international supplier of high-performance plastic compounds and resins, LifeSpan+™ substantially increases the useful life of Competitor® discs in harsh pool environments.
Providing outstanding customer service with integrity and constantly working to “make customers for life,” is also a core focus of the Competitor team. “We do whatever it takes to provide our customers with both an outstanding product and process,” notes Underwood.
Competitor believes that every pool is different, and as a result, every customer has different needs.
This is why every Competitor lane line is custom-built specifically for each customer, by hand with pride, passion, and expertise. American-owned since 1968, Competitor takes great pride in the fact that all Competitor lane lines are made and manufactured in the United States, along with its line of products that include Stor Lane Reels™, pace clocks, and backstroke flags.
Competitor brings the same passion and commitment to its lane lines and swimming accessories, as the company does to the sport of swimming. Brad acknowledges, “I am a non-swimmer who has been enthusiastically embraced by the entire industry so I always keep in mind that the swimmer and their commitment to the sport is the reason we are in business in the first place.”
Originally introduced at the 1968 Summer Olympics, Competitor lane lines have been proudly been the choice of 10 of the past 14 Olympic Games. Competitor also is the official partner of the NCAA and USA Swimming, and its lane lines have been used in countless Men’s & Women’s NCAA Championships, numerous high school State Championships, and USA Swimming events across the country.