In a town of showstoppers, this year’s International Pool | Spa | Patio Expo may feature the brightest star of all.
Olympic swimming champion Michael Phelps will be on hand at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas on Nov. 3 to introduce a new signature line of swim spas by Master Spas.
Phelps, who also will handle official ribbon-cutting duties for the Expo, is expected to remain at the Master Spas booth for two hours or so to meet the manufacturer’s dealers and chat with IPSPE attendees.
“We’ve never had anything like this at the national show,” said Bob Lauter, CEO of Master Spas in Fort Wayne, Ind. “Michael is a once-in-a-lifetime athlete, and we think this is an opportunity for us to impact our industry in a really major way. It’ll help grow the interest in swimming, and it’ll help grow the interest in swim spas.”
Master Spas has been manufacturing swim spas for the past four years, and counts seven models among its offerings. Recently, the prospect of partnering with a global sports icon arose, and Lauter seized the occasion.
But the swimmer didn’t just lend his name to the product.
Phelps and coach Bob Bowman provided input on various design elements of the new premium line, Lauter said. Indeed, one model was engineered specifically with the Olympian in mind — a swim area two feet longer than the next largest, with a propulsion system 40 percent more powerful than the standard.
“For the mere mortal, most of what we had would work,” Lauter said. “But for an elite swimmer, we had to do something special. So Michael and Bob were involved in helping us figure out some of the technical challenges, and to figure out how he could get in and swim, and use it as an effective training tool.”
A Master Spas swim spa now is permanently installed at Phelps’ training facility in Baltimore, Lauter added.
Beyond his athletic achievements, Phelps has long sought to promote swimming, as well as an active lifestyle, especially among children. To that end, he established the Michael Phelps Foundation through a $1 million bonus he received from sponsor Speedo after winning eight gold medals at the 2008 Beijing Games.
The alliance with Master Spas is expected to further that objective.
“Michael’s goal outside of the pool is to grow the sport of swimming,” said Peter Carlisle, Phelps’ agent and managing director of Olympic and Action Sports at marketing firm Octagon in New York.
“So, in the short term, it certainly helps to launch the product and attract excitement around it,” he added. “But from a macro-perspective, it really raises mainstream awareness of this new product and how it can help grow the sport and increase participation in different ways — and that’s the kind of thing that gets Michael excited.”