National Apparel Supplier Raises Bar for Swim Apparel

Courtesy: BSN Sports, a SwimSwam partner

With an NCAA women’s team in its third season and a men’s team in its inaugural year, Chowan University Swimming Head Coach Matthew Hood has plenty to keep him busy both in and out of the water.

Like most coaches, Hood’s time is a finite resource that’s best spent with his athletes, so having a gear and apparel supplier that values that time as much as he does can’t be understated.

“Quick responses from (our sales pro) makes it easy for us,” says Hood, who recently began working with veteran apparel and gear supplier BSN SPORTS. “Because I’ve got to get the quote, and then I’ve got to put the paperwork in (with the school) … so him getting back to me as quickly as he does definitely cuts down on the lag time between me saying, ‘I want to buy this stuff’ and actually having it in-hand.”

Hood has relied on BSN SPORTS to supply swim equipment and apparel for his teams for the past six months after the university tapped BSN SPORTS as its new gear and apparel distributor department-wide. For Hood and his swim program, the switch has been a seamless one, thanks largely to the relationship he’s formed with BSN SPORTS Swim Category Manager Joel Morace.

“Working with Joel has been great,” Hood says. “We do Speedo stuff, so I have the catalogue, and say, ‘Hey, we need these sets of equipment,” or if I’ve got 10 kids coming in and need 70 sets of equipment. (I let him know) we need this, or these suits.”

Making a Splash

While not new to the segment, in recent months BSN SPORTS has moved to expand its footprint poolside, and with more than 1,000 sales professionals across the country, the apparel and equipment distributor isn’t exactly toeing into the swim category.

The Farmers Branch, Texas-based apparel and gear distributor’s brand lineup already includes Speedo, Nike and UnderArmour, to name a few.

For the Almaden Riptide, a San Jose, Calif.-based club team consisting of more than 120 swimmers ages 5 to 18, having brand-specific gear in stock year-round is no small feat, according to head coach and club founder Kyle Kikuta.

“It’s been really good,” Kikuta says of his experience with BSN SPORTS, which supplies his team’s dry land gear, including sweats, travel polos, shorts, hoodies and team apparel. “We’ve been able to get brand name stuff for great prices.”

Others, like Hood, benefit from the Team Art Locker, a point-and-click online design studio preloaded with custom artwork for every high school in the United States, including logos and colors, school mascots and more for custom apparel design that’s ready to roll in minutes.

“I remember asking, ‘Hey can we put graphics on the suits?'” Hood says. “And he made that happen easily for us and it looks great.”

A Personal Touch

The size and reputation of the company—not to mention the “Best Price Guarantee”—are likely to mean better pricing and availability of sporting goods apparel and equipment for teams, but the company aims to do more than provide apparel and gear at the lowest prices, according to Joel Morace.

“We’d like to put a personal touch on that service,” Morace says. “It could include access to resources, both online, through our website and IPAD app, or in person through a BSN sales professional.”

It can sometimes be as simple as answering a phone call, according to Coach Kyle Kikuta.

“What I can appreciate is that I’m able to get hold of them when we need them,” he says. “I’ve dealt with a few dealers before that are very easy to get hold of when you don’t need them, and are impossible to get hold of when you do.”

Whether through online portals and brochures or face-to-face conversations and handshakes, availability is the cornerstone of The Heart of the Game, BSN’s company-wide campaign to put more time into the hands of the coaches and educators working with young athletes across the country.

“The Heart of the Game is driven by the idea that every minute we save you can be spent changing lives,” Morace says.

For coaches like Kikuta and Hood, that time appears to have a good return-on-investment. Now in its fifth year, Kikuta’s Riptide squad has had more than a dozen swimmers advance to compete at the collegiate level at schools across the country, while Hood’s Division II team received Academic All-American honors for the second time in three seasons.

“We’re doing a really good job in the classroom,” Hood says. “And our kids are getting faster, which I love to see.”

To learn more about how your team can leverage BSN’s network of apparel and equipment experts, or for more information about the company’s design, planning and production resources, call Category Manager Joel Morace direct at 469-729-5745, visit www.BSNSports.com/ib/swimming, or email Joel at [email protected]

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BSN Sports is a SwimSwam partner. 

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