Teen Swimmers attract Olympic Backers on Kickstarter

KICKSTARTER CAMPAIGN BY TEEN ENTREPRENEURS

UPDATE: Niki and Becca have attracted three Olympic swimmers to back this campaign, Kara Lynn Joyce (USA), Annamay Pierse (Canada) and JR deSouza (Brazil).  Niki and Becca have been inspired by these Olympians to touch the wall and make their goal of $36K with only 17 days to go.

NIKI & BECCA KICKSTARTER MESSAGE

We are Niki and Becca, girl swimmers and teen entrepreneurs.

We set out to create Wotter to empower girls like us (and you!) to stay in swimming AND to raise awareness that more female swim coaches are needed to create strong role models for young girls.  Hopefully we will also inspire more girl entrepreneurs to make their ideas a reality – creating this company and going through the KickStarter process has been an AMAZING experience for both of us!

Back this project here.

The Statistics

Today, only 1 in four swim coaches are female and girls leave the sport of swim at twice the rate of boys by the time they finish high school.  We want girls to know they matter too! So, we ask that you help fund our project so we can bring our girl’s swim parka and eventually a whole line of female empowering swim gear and apparel to a market that deserves to be recognized.

This is me, Niki, in 2013. Back then, I was 11 and still early in my swim career. Becca and I are now 16, in high school and swimming for our school’s swim team and on the club team at North Carolina’s Triangle Acquatic Center (Go Titans!)

We know that competitive swimming has played a very important role in our character development and we both feel a very special kinship with all girls in the swim community.

For us, establishing a unique style trademark helps put us in a place of confidence and gives us a little extra swagger – that is certainly a valuable asset when we are preparing to compete.

The swim parka models available then (and still today) have made building our unique identity pretty hard to do.  100% of swim parka designs look pretty much the same – a shapeless, zip-up, unisex sack.  Basically made for boys and in no way an acknowledgment of the female physique, psychology or need for self expression.  It was pretty obvious that there was an opportunity to bring the underserved female indy swim athlete a stylish, confidence building parka with significantly increased utility.  So…. we set off to research and build the perfect girl garment.

My mom took me to a fashion trade show in Las Vegas a few years ago to begin this research.  I am pretty sure I was the only kid in the whole town.  She thought it would be a good way to teach me about how to build a business and do something good in the world.  I was halfway on board, but mostly excited about the food (and I love staying in hotels).

It was amazing to see all these companies from all  over the world that make thread and fabric and buttons.  It was really eye opening.

We came away from the show with some ideas and contacts and next we worked with a company to design our prototype…

 

Back this project here.

I would be on phone calls with designers and they would listen to me and what I wanted, it was kind of crazy, I was such a little kid!  After a lot of talking and back and forth, we really got to something I felt reflected what girl’s wanted.  We added things that the current models dont have:

  • Oversized hood for ponies and top knots
  • Big zipper pulls easier for smaller, wet hands to grab
  • Less bulk, easier to wear
  • A wrap and snap feature to make it easy to put into a swimbag
  • Feminine lines and styling
  • Lots of other considerations, like secret pockets for iphones and headphones, big, deep pockets to warm your hands, venting and breathable fabrics…

Then, I got busy with swimming and school stuff and my mom was busy working.  We set the project aside, but never forgot it.  This year, my friend Becca and I got to talking about it.  We swim and go to school together.  There was a teen entrepreneurial pitch competition at our school and we decided to do it.  It was such an amazing experience, probably the biggest highlight of our high school careers so far.

Anyway, we placed in the competition and then all of this great stuff started happening.  An angel investor contacted us and the judges of the competition started making introductions.  It was crazy.  They believed in what we were doing and really wanted us to succeed.

We hope you will too.  Please fund our KickStarter campaign and help us bring our product line to market.  We hope to inspire girls to remain in swim and to raise awareness of the need for more female swim coaches to provide strong role models in the sport!

Thank you!

Back this project here.

Swimming news Kickstarter is courtesy of Wotter, a SwimSwam partner.

Leave a Reply

9 Comments on "Teen Swimmers attract Olympic Backers on Kickstarter"

newest oldest most voted
Spotted Zebra

I’m not going to lie: I’ve seen various iterations of this story on the SwimSwam news feed and never felt interested enough in the idea of “parkas for female swimmers” to read on. Today, I read the story, and this skeptical reader has now become a fan. Two dimensions of this project that I particularly like are: (1) raising awareness of the gender discrepancies in swimming (i.e. only 1 in 4 coaches is female & significant female swimmer drop out rates), and (2) the list of female-focused stylist differences this parka will include (e.g. oversized hoods for top knots). I’m genuinely impressed, and I’m now rooting for this project — good luck! 🙂

Spotted Zebra

PS — Perhaps I should clarify: I am female, and my initial ambivalence was based on the belief that gender-neutral parkas work just fine, but this project pitch has persuaded me to reconsider. 🙂 Again, best of luck!

Its not just the Parka. girls leave the sport earlier since they peak earlier. Granted, I think many are still closed to their best times in high school, but swimming is a high pressure sport for young girls since you can make the Olympics under 18 years old unlike most of the male swimmers which are 19 and over. I’m glad the Olympians are supporting them.

So having a parka that will be more form fitting will somehow fix gender discrepancies in the sport and keep girls from quitting? I’m not really following

Nah – “just because you can’t fix it all with a singular sweeping action, doesn’t mean that you can’t take small steps to improve the situation.”

I agree but, who has quit the sport of swimming because of the apparel?

It’s great they’re making a product that fits better don’t get me wrong but I don’t really think it’ll solve anything

Swim parkas are big and baggy on both guys and girls, they don’t flatter anyone’s figure, they just keep you warm and in indoor meets they’re actually not that common on deck.

And I feel that if you quit a sport because of its fashion trends… maybe you’re competing for the wrong reasons? This is confusing

I think you’re focusing on the “rational, thought-through” decision making. There’s another part of decision making for all of us that involves “feel” and “vibe,” and I think more flattering (and – in the case of the top knot – comfortable) parkas can contribute to that “feel” and “vibe,” even if in a small way. Nobody swims for the bag-tags, but I can tell you for sure that when I was coaching 10 & unders, well over half of them would’ve said “bag tags” was one of their favorite parts of swimming. And if you’re looking for a rational justification, here’s one that I think you might appreciate – if female swimmers weren’t going to quit the sport because they… Read more »
Joe Bagodonuts

Apparently the parkas are not a cure-all, but they will address those who chose to depart the sport for fashion deficiency reasons.

Girls (and women) come in all shapes and sizes. I’m on a masters swin team and don’t have a young girls slight body. Please make sure you make these in a wide range of sizes including tall and plus size. I bet I could get every single woman in my masters class and the ladies in liquid cardio to buy one.

Don't want to miss anything?

Subscribe to our newsletter and receive our latest updates!