Former Olympic swimmer Rich Allen, now residing in Tampa Bay, creates a line of paddleboards, wetsuits, goggles and other high-performance water gear.
Boating, fishing and other aquatic activities have seen a huge uptick in popularity during the pandemic, with individuals and families looking for safe and socially distant ways to get out of the house. Boat sales, in particular, have skyrocketed.
Savvy entrepreneurs are also coming up with new products to help people enjoy the abundant recreational opportunities on Florida’s waterways. One example is Rich Allen, a British transplant to Tampa Bay whose pedigree includes triathlons and Olympic competition. He has launched the Stingray line of inflatable stand-up paddleboards, commonly referred to as iSUPs.
“Although I’m not originally from Florida, I have been coming here three or four times a year for 25 years,” states Allen in a press release, saying the stingrays that inhabit the Gulf waters inspired him to get into the business of iSUPs. “Florida means everything to me. St. Anthony’s Triathlon was my first professional race. I met my wife Tonya here, we got married here and many of my closest friends live in St. Pete — we love the outdoor Florida lifestyle. It’s a very unique and diverse place.”
Allen added to his venture by also releasing a line of wetsuits called the Stinger. The outfits are geared toward both men and women who enjoy open-water swimming.
Accomplished swimmers apparently think highly of Allen’s creations. He’s landed the endorsement of three-time Olympic gold medalist Brooke Bennett, a Florida native. Bennett, the release states, has not only tested and approved Allen’s products, but she has also agreed to produce her own line of signature goggles and other gear under the Stingray/Stinger umbrella. At age 40, she continues to compete in world-class open-water swimming events.
“We are extremely excited to partner with Brooke,” Allen states in the release. “She brings exceptional experience to the table and has a passion and positive attitude that encompasses the Stingray mission. With the Brooke Bennett goggles, we wanted to combine a fast pool-racing goggle with the comfortable features and UV protection perfect for long, open-water swims. The Brooke Bennett Collection goggles deliver this."