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  • Feb

    Brand Q&A: Catching up with Arena

    Arena launched its new Carbon Air tech suit in early February, adding a third suit to the popular Arena Powerskin Carbon series. And this week, just launched our Arena instant savings promotion that gets you $50 (women) or $30 (men) off on an Arena Carbon Pro or Carbon Flex tech suit with a qualifying purchase of an Arena training suit. So we thought this would be a great time to speak with Arena’s Product Line Manager Debra Talbert about their full tech suit line and other performance products for 2015! Blog: Arena now features several different product offerings within the Carbon line, what was the idea behind the new Carbon Air debuting this month?

    Arena: The Carbon Air is our fifth new racing technology in the last three years. It’s a completely new application of our carbon technology, and features a heavy focus on comfort without sacrificing the technological benefits of intelligent compression. The new Carbon Air fabric utilizes actual strands of Carbon Fiber woven horizontally in the fabric to create a system of Carbon Bands. These bands provide the swimmer with maximum support where they need it most in a fabric that is actually 30% lighter than Carbon Pro and Carbon Flex – so it feels like a second skin. It’s a massive victory for both performance and comfort.

    SB: Is it possible for a swimmer to have multiple Carbon suits for different uses or is the idea that there is one ideal suit for each person with the differences between the Air, Flex and Pro?

    Arena: We know all swimmers are different. Every individual, every stroke, and every distance present unique challenges and vastly different requirements to the performance of a technical racing suit. Many brands offer a “one-size-fits-all” approach – with price, fabric, and performance as the main differentiation between suit technologies. At Arena, our team of engineers and product innovation experts study the actual needs of athletes across the entire range of their competitive environments, and have designed the Carbon Series specifically to address these needs. We know there are some incredible swimmers out there able to swim a variety of distances and strokes at an elite level – and each suit in the Carbon Series offers unique benefits that can absolutely work with a particular stroke or event. That said, we leave the ultimate decision up to the swimmer – and we created these technologies with an abundance of input from our professional and collegiate athletes and coaches. We feel it’s important that each swimmer make that decision for themselves based on the variables most important to their comfort and performance. Of course, there are specific benefits of each Carbon suit that can help guide that decision. The Carbon Flex provides maximum mobility and freedom of movement in addition to all of the Carbon Pro’s proven technologies such as the Carbon Cage, Power Return Construction, and Arena’s exclusive Intelligent Compression. The new Carbon Air is an ultra-lightweight, second-skin-like fabric that offers all the benefits of Intelligent Compression, in a suit designed to offer unprecedented comfort. The super sleek construction and new technical elements, such as the SmartStretch Shoulder Straps make the Carbon Air incredibly easy to wear and one of the most comfortable high-performance technical suits ever created.

    SB: You’ve made such a splash in the high-end tech suit space the past few years, what about other product categories? Has the technology trickled down to training suits?

    Arena: Absolutely. Arena is committed wholly to aquatic sports – and that is where we spend ALL of our time, energy and expertise. With training suits, we’ve long prided ourselves on manufacturing our suits from the finest Italian fabrics, including our new MaxLife technical poly-blend that offers highest quality, longest-lasting suits in the business. Swimmers are often surprised at the incredible hand-feel of our fabrics – not your typical stretchy, spandex-like suit, but a carefully-constructed, high-quality garment that stands up to the extreme demands of daily training. We’re particularly excited about our new Spring/Summer 2015 collection and the Carbon-Inspired training-suit product range. Carbon is not just in Arena’s DNA, it’s the most basic building block of life and one of the most abundant elements in the universe. The new Carbonite and Polycarbonite product ranges feature a unique geometric print that’s inspired by a microscopic view inside the carbon molecule and look as good as they perform (almost). We feel it’s important – if you want to be the best – that you train in the best, and that’s what our training line is designed to deliver.

    SB: What are some other areas of accessories or gear that Arena has been focused on?

    Arena: At Arena, we pride ourselves on innovation…not just with our suit technology but in every aspect of our business – product and otherwise. Whether it’s our unique activations at events (like the Arena Art Exhibit at US Nationals, The Grand PrixView at last year’s Grand Prix meets), our unique team partnership model, or our product inspiration, innovation and design are at the core of Arena’s purpose. The latest product from the Arena “think-tank” is on the way to market soon in the form of the incredible new COBRA Ultra goggle. It’s our most advanced goggle to date and features a wide range of improvements to swimmers looking for the ultimate in performance including a hydrodynamic design that reduces drag in the water, extra-wide lateral and forward vision, and interchangeable nose bridges. However – Arena is also committed to the future of the sport, and our innovation isn’t isolated solely to competition and racing. Take, for example, the Freestyle Breather. This patented training aid, with it’s unmistakable aesthetic, is designed specifically to help beginner and novice-level swimmers overcome the intimidation and frustration that often accompany the teaching and learning of a new skill. Designed to create a deeper trough that allows unrestricted breathing, this device is also being widely adopted by intermediate level swimmers and coaches due to the additional sensory feedback it provides on head position in the water. Just the first of a range of beginner-level accessories to come in the next several years, the Freestyle Breather showcases Arena’s commitment to growing our sport and helping to build a generation of future Olympians.

    SB: Since jumping on-board with USA Swimming as the official national team outfitter, how have you tried to create a lifestyle line for USA Swimming?

    Arena: The development of the National Team line has really been a cooperative process – working with USA Swimming to advance the brand of the National Team. Looking at the past 20 years, the National Team had been in the same, tired track suits for decades. When Arena came on board as the new partner, we recognized that it was time to create a line that was as exciting and inspirational as these amazing athletes themselves. So we instructed our designers to play, to dream, and to create. And what came back wowed USA Swimming and fans at the 2009 World Championships. We’ve made a few changes to that line, and we’re introducing a new white line of deckwear later this summer, incorporating the same carbon-inspired print that is the design staple of the National Team podium wear.

    SB: Any exciting products coming out in advance of this year’s World Championships that we can look forward to?

    Arena: It’s under lock-and-key right now, but we presented the Rio Olympic line to USA Swimming just before Golden Goggles in New York in November. We don’t have an exact launch date yet, but it will likely come late this year and it’s something pretty spectacular. There will be a fan line – and we can’t wait to show it!

    In addition, we’ve just launched the brand new (and Arena-first) World Championship Special Edition technical racing suit…the Carbon Flex WCE (World Championship Edition) 2015. This suit, inspired by the Arena family of athletes competing in Kazan this year, features an incredible new color range and a few top secret technologies that have been integrated following direct-feedback from Arena’s Elite Team. We think is going to be a hit across the world!

    SB: Wow, that sounds pretty exciting! Talk about how you involve your elite Arena athletes in some of your product testing and feedback?

    Both here and abroad, our athletes are the first to see, test and swim in our prototypes. Our product testing, researching and creating cycle is constant and ever-evolving. We accept and solicit feedback from our swimmers year round, through the quad, and day-in, day-out. We are about the athlete. It’s how we were founded, and it’s important to every individual who works at Arena both here and across the globe today. Two immediate examples are around the WCE Flex and the Carbon Air. With the Air, Arena staff from three countries travelled across the U.S., visiting professional athletes and four U.S. universities, testing the prototypes on over 350 athletes, taking detailed feedback and measurements. This information was brought back and directly integrated into the suit’s fit and construction, resulting in what we know is truly a unique, state-of-the-art racing suit. The WCE Flex features a very small alteration to the technology – a slight change in the taping across the glutes (men and women) and on the back (women). Those changes help prevent parachuting and improve shoulder mobility – a suggestion came directly from the field – from the athletes – and we made the adjustments.

    SB: Thanks so much for your time. Any big plans for Rio 2016, or is that top secret?

    Arena: Yes! And yes. ;-)


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