Rowing team to wear uniforms made in USA for Rio Olympics
April 25, 2016 11:52 AM
USA TODAY 10:47 a.m. EDT April 25, 2016: When U.S. rowers race for gold in Rio this summer, they’ll be representing their country in unisuits designed and manufactured in the USA.
Boathouse Sports unveiled its Pinnacle II unisuit Monday that will be worn by members of the national team during the 2016 season, including the Rio Olympics in August. The founder and CEO of the company, John Strotbeck, competed in the 1984 and 1988 Olympics in the sport.
Rowers tested and provided feedback on the unisuits, which the company says are made of “high-wicking micro-denier yarn for greater softness and comfort in wear without sacrificing support or durability.” The suits have innovative sewing techniques to reduce bulk and chafing.
Strotbeck emphasized the fit of the unisuits. “Our goal is to make the unisuits to feel like there’s nothing on,” he said.
The new uniforms are in stark contrast to what Strotbeck remembers wearing while competing in 1984. “In ‘84 the shorts were cotton and nylon and about as form fitting as a trash bag,” he said. “That’s to say they weren’t form fitting at all.”
Back then the shorts would absorb water, making them heavy to compete in. Those uniforms of the past will have no resemblance to what Americans will wear this summer. Another unisuit that will be released later this summer will be made of anti-microbial fabric to help athletes avoid contact with contaminants in the water. The Associated Press tested water samples taken from the lagoon where rowing will be held in Rio. It found the lagoon to be virus laden.
“The garment itself will protect the body,” Strotbeck said, adding the unisuit that hasn’t been released yet “will be extremely unique — no one will have seen anything like it.”
All Boathouse apparel is manufactured in Philadelphia, where Strotbeck has lived since 1981. The company also manufactured unisuits and training gear for the U.S. rowing team at the 2012 London Games.
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