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Arena, USA Swimming sign 8-year sponsorship deal

The Associated Press

Arena and USA Swimming have agreed to an eight-year deal in which the swimwear company will serve as exclusive sponsor of the U.S. national team and create new uniforms.

The deal announced Monday takes effect in January. It's the first time USA Swimming will partner with an additional swimwear brand besides Speedo, which has sponsored the national governing body in the U.S. for 30 years.

Arena will become the exclusive title sponsor of USA Swimming's Grand Prix series, play a supporting role in the USA Swimming Foundation and its Make a Splash water safety initiative, and gain worldwide merchandising rights for the group.

The deal signals Arena's commitment to the U.S. market, which it re-entered two years ago, and comes after the recent opening of its wholly owned North American subsidiary in Portland, Ore.

"Based on our international success over the past decade, it was time for us to target one of the most ambitious projects in our history — to be a leading player in the U.S., the most important market in the world of swimming," Arena chief executive officer Cristiano Portas said.

Among the U.S. swimmers who have individual sponsorships with Arena are Olympic breaststroke champion Rebecca Soni, Olympian Conor Dwyer and retired stars Aaron Peirsol and Eric Shanteau.