"Nike has made a strategic decision as part of the company's long-term growth plan to focus efforts against its successful swimwear business at retail," the company says in a statement, confirming published reports.
Back in July, the Beaverton, Ore.-based sports apparel giant made the unprecedented announcement that it would allow its Nike swimmers to wear archrival Speedo's sleek, high-performance LZR Racer suit. At that time, Nike said it would not stand in the way of its swimmers seeking maximum performance.
The suit--worn by medal-magnet Michael Phelps, among others--is so revolutionary that it has enabled swimmers to break dozens of records. "A total of 64 World Records now have been achieved at the Games by swimmers wearing the Speedo LZR Racer," Speedo says.
"We will continue to supply coaches and collegiate institutions under Nike sponsorship with competitive Nike swimsuits including Nike Swift Swim," the Nike statement says. "But we will not invest in next-generation swim innovation, which is not in line with our stated category growth strategy." Previously, Nike has said it would focus its growth efforts on men's and women's training, running, soccer, basketball, and sportswear.
The Speedo suit, fast becoming a performance icon, is about to fall into the hands of mere mortals. While the suit was unveiled back in February, it is only now becoming available to consumers. The men's version, on its Web site, retails for about $600.