Professional Swimmers Make More Money – SwimSwamBiz

David Arluck, CEO of the Fitter and Faster Swim Tour, announced August 2nd that Fitter and Faster will now be offering an optional sponsorship procurement service for actively competing elite swimmers at commission rates well below industry standards. In fact, Fitter and Faster will not be charging any commission for many athletes with swimsuit deals. Additionally, Fitter and Faster will be charging a low 5% commission on sponsorships that swimmers secure with companies who are already working with USA Swimming. These companies include Blue Diamond Almonds, BMW, Chobani, Got Milk and many others. This decision will immediately put thousands of dollars in the pockets of athletes who are already on Fitter and Faster’s roster.

The Fitter and Faster Swim Tour grew out of Arluck Promotions.  The swim tour was developed as a business to help elite swimmers earn needed income, improve their value to prospective sponsors, educate grass-roots swimmers, and promote the sport or swimming.

SwimSwam contacted Arluck to find out his rationale for lowering these rates. Here’s what he had to say:

“The sport of swimming is fortunate to have a handful of companies who sponsor the national governing body and who invest in swimsuit technology for competitive swimming. These are ‘endemic sponsors’. Arluck Promotions has done several million dollars in sponsorship deals for elite swimmers over the past decade with endemic sponsors. While doing that we have grown Fitter and Faster to create our own income for elite swimmers instead of relying solely on the decisions of third party company marketing plans and budgets. In doing so we generate several hundred thousand dollars in incremental annual income for elite swimmers.”

Arluck procured many of Matt Grevers‘ sponsorships since 2008 (photo: Mike Lewis)

Arluck continues, “Fitter and Faster has accomplished its mission of enabling elite swimmers to supplement their core income which in many cases is their USA Swimming stipend (APA) and swimsuit deal earnings. In several cases FFT has even enabled Olympians to keep training because they missed qualifying for APA between Olympics. FFT has also enabled elite swimmers to earn a good income after retiring from competitive swimming and first entering the workforce. As a mater of fact, we have several swimmers who would do just a few clinics with us annually while they were competing. Then, once they retired they would do many more – in several cases generating upwards of $30,000 annually while working weekends and making plans for their long term careers. This is much needed income for an athlete who may first be entering the workforce at age 25 or older and is no longer getting the support of USA Swimming stipend and sponsorships.”

Connor Jaeger, another Arluck athlete, signed with Arena and many other sponsors (photo: Peter Sukenik)

Arluck concludes, “Fitter and Faster has always been about putting more money in the pockets of more elite swimmers – so, this decision to eliminate and significantly reduce commissions on endemic sponsorships is a natural progression at this stage of the game for us. We have so much experience with these deals that it just doesn’t make sense for us to charge a commission on it any more – elite swimmers need to be keeping as much of this income as they can.”

SwimSwam put Fitter and Faster’s commission plan to the numbers. If a Fitter and Faster (FFT) elite swimmer does 6 clinics on an annual basis and earns $100,000 annually from a swim suit sponsor that FFT secured for the athlete, the athlete would pay only $3,000 in commission. This is a significant savings for the athlete. Typically an athlete will pay anywhere from $10,000 to $20,000 on that income. Where perhaps this new service will provide even more value is to the many elite swimmers who are earning $40,000 or less per year through their swimsuit agreements. If they are doing 4 to 6 Fitter and Faster clinics annually- they will pay absolutely nothing in commission.

This additional income will go a long way for elite athlete looking to pay rent, pay for school, car, travel to meets and more.

SwimSwam has researched this topic, and we cannot find an example of a sport management and/or marketing company lowering commission fees for elite athletes.  (See a breakdown of the lower Fitter and Faster rates below.) Traditional rates agents charge for sponsorship procurement is 15-20%.

Most SwimSwam readers know the Fitter and Faster Swim Tour as the largest swimming clinic tour in the world, producing over 1,000 swim clinics.

Arluck began his career in the early 2000s representing Gary Hall Jr., 10-time Olympic medalist.  Arluck helped Gary build a great business as an Olympic icon, however, most elite swimmers do not have the same opportunities a 10-time Olympic medalist attracts. Moreover, most elites on the long road to the Olympic Games do not have Olympic hardware, the medals needed to land corporate partnerships, yet their costs to live and train mount daily.  The Fitter and Faster Swim Tour was developed and launched in 2009, providing elites a means to earn revenue, gain exposure, and provide a service back to the community.

“Back in 2005, 2006 and 2007, the only athletes getting requests for swimming clinics, were Olympic medalists, and really, only gold medalists,” explained Arluck. “…and here we are ten years later, the largest clinic tour in the world, hosted by elite swimmers with medals and without.”

Below is an overview of the Fitter and Faster sponsorship program for elite swimmers. If an athlete chooses to have Fitter and Faster negotiate sponsorship deals specifically with swimsuit companies and sponsors of USA Swimming, these are the commission rate they will be charged:
  • 4 clinics annually – Fitter and Faster is waving commissions on the first $25,000 earned annually by the athlete.
  • 6 clinics annually – Fitter and Faster is waving commissions on the first $40,000 earned annually by the athlete.
  • All dollars earned after $25,000 or $40,000 (depending on the number of clinics led) will be commissioned at a  flat 5% rate.
  • If athletes earn sponsorship dollars through any company with a sponsorship or partnership with USA Swimming the commission rate will also be a flat 5%

See David Alruck’s entire statement here.

The SwimSwamBiz Series highlights industry leaders and industry news.  Fitter and Faster is a SwimSwam partner.  

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About Gold Medal Mel Stewart

Gold Medal Mel Stewart

MEL STEWART Jr., aka Gold Medal Mel, won three Olympic medals at the 1992 Olympic Games. Mel's best event was the 200 butterfly. He is a former World, American, and NCAA Record holder in the 200 butterfly. As a writer/producer and sports columnist, Mel has contributed to Yahoo Sports, Universal Sports, …

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