Courtesy of Elle Meinholz
My Dad took on an amazing feat, developing his own brand of performance swimwear, A3 Performance. As a swimmer, a coach, a swim parent, a swim fanatic, a dealer, and now a brand leader, there are few others with a greater understanding of the sport of swimming than A3 Performance President & CEO Dan Meinholz.
Dan was an amazing swimmer and a determined athlete. He specialized in the backstrokes and 200 IM. He was a state-record-holder, junior national champion, Catholic National Champion, and the list goes on and on. He was one of the top backstrokers of his age group for many years as a kid. The youngest of eight Meinholz children, there was not a lot of money in the family to pay for trips to Nationals and other big meets. If Dan wanted to go, he was paying his way. He spent countless summers training two-a-days and working every other minute he wasn’t swimming so he could save up for these meets. If he didn’t already spend enough time at the pool, Dan worked as a lifeguard for Milwaukee County in Wisconsin. He was a man with a mission and a passion for the water. He knew what he wanted and what he was capable of, and even as a high school boy, nothing was going to stop him. After high school, Dan went to the University of Wisconsin-Madison on a full-ride scholarship to swim as a Badger. After some brutal training and a few too many surgeries on his shoulders and his knees, Dan’s career as a swimmer was cut short and his time in the pool was done. His story hardly stops there.
When Dan’s swim career was over, he jumped right in to coaching. Determined to stay in the sport and to earn some money for school, it was the best thing for him to do. He was a coach for several club teams and summer teams throughout college and even for a while after graduation; his most impactful coaching job, though, was mine and my sister’s high school team. It’s not easy having your dad as your coach (all swimmers know that it’s impossible to love your coaches every day), but I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I trusted my Dad. He knew what he was talking about, and it was obvious because I was getting faster. My teammates and I swam faster than we ever have in our lives, and we all had a blast doing it! My little sister was a Wisconsin State Champion and my Dad awarded her the medal on the podium. How special that moment was. The best moment though…our little state team of four girls finishing third at the WI State meet with a first-place relay finish no one ever thought we would pull off. We were the underdogs and we were on a mission to prove to everyone (including ourselves) that we were the best. We believed we could because our coach did everything he could to prepare us and he believed we could do it…and we did it.
When I was three-years old, my 29-year old parents started their own business, a swim-team dealer called All-American Aquatics. Dan spent nearly 10 years working with major brands and servicing an exponential number of teams. My Dad worked a full-time second job to support my mom, my sister, myself, and the new business. He worked hard, and he worked a lot, and that didn’t always make sense to me as a little girl. As I work through my own major life transitions and slowly approach the age of 29 (I am 25 now), I have a far greater appreciation for the work, the sacrifice, and the commitment All-American Aquatics took. I don’t know if I could ever do that. His drive is amazing; his passion is obvious.
My parents (both swimmers) wasted no time getting me in the water after I was born. I loved it! When I was six years-old, I started taking swim lessons, and I pretty much never stopped swimming from that point on. Growing up, I had my share of failures and defeats. Missing state cuts, getting bumped off an A relay, getting touched out is all an unfortunately normal part of anyone’s swimming career. I worked really hard at swimming because I loved it so much and wanted to be better. I have always been sensitive and my toughest critic…I never handled these obstacles well. I was lucky though, because unlike all of my teammates, I always had my Dad. My biggest supporter always had my back. He would give me a hug and tell me to get back out there. With every challenge I faced, he would leave me with little tidbits of wisdom. Nothing worth having comes easy. Believe in yourself, so many people already do. Be the best Elle you can be, and that’s all you can do. It won’t happen overnight-as long as you are getting a little better each day, and learning, you’re headed in the right direction. He always knew the right thing to say. He understood.
As a kid, I always remember my friends saying I was so lucky because my parents were great swimmers who know what they are talking about when talking to me after my races. I did feel pretty lucky, but it was so beyond that. My parents were both phenomenal swimmers, with far more success than myself, but never once did they expect me to be them. I was always my own person, my own swimmer, with my own strengths and weaknesses, and they continually supported me as the individual I was. My dad always had a comment on my race, something funny he noticed on the pool deck (that jokester), and what I can improve on next time. That’s what it’s all about isn’t it? There is always room for improvement, there is always a chance to learn, and there will always be the opportunity to better. That’s what my Dad taught me, and that’s what he teaches me every day in his work with A3.
In 2004, the performance swimwear company was born. After approximately 10 years of working as a team-dealer, Dan stepped on to the performance swimwear scene, a force to be reckoned with. It’s 12 years later and if you ask him, he’ll say we have a long way to go; he is always moving towards being better. However, if you ask me, I get emotional about how far A3 has come and how I get to be a part of where we are going!
Dan being my Dad, I have been around A3 Performance since its inception. I have seen all of the work that has gone in to the brand for the last 12 years and I continue to see what he puts in to the brand every day. I truly believe that if anyone in the world watched him work for a day, or listened to him so passionately talk about A3 Performance and what he wants to do for the sport of swimming, they would never think of swimming in anything else. There is no way that any other product on the market receives as much time, care, passion, and personal development that A3 Performance products do. People can think I am biased, and I might be a little bit (he is my Dad after all), but I also know I am right. Dan never stops working on, never stops thinking about, and never stops talking about product development and A3. He is constantly thinking of what the sport needs and how he can help swimmers be better than they’ve ever been. What could have kept him from injury? What do his daughters need to feel confident in their races? What are customers and teams looking for? He has all of the experience in the world and knows the sport from every angle possible. He uses everything he has been through and everything he knows to be better than he was yesterday. He is always striving to be the best. He believes in himself and stands by A3 Performance and its product. You know why? Because Dan puts every ounce he has in to developing A3 Performance products. He isn’t a salesperson trying to earn a commission. Dan is a proud, honest, hard-working man who won’t sell a product he doesn’t believe is the best. Who doesn’t want that?!
His passion and character are unmatched by anyone I have ever met, and if I grow up to be half of who my Dad is, I’ll consider myself a success. The Man Behind A3 Performance is Dan Meinholz…swimmer, coach, dealer, brand leader, and my Dad.