U.S. Olympic Swim Team Suits Made In Portugal, Printed In Virginia | News
CHANTILLY, Va. (WUSA) - The 2012 USA Swim Team suits are made in Portugal. But the USA logo is printed in Chantilly, Virginia.
Bob York, owner of Aardvark Swim and Sport, has been printing the logos on the USA Olympic swim team's suits since 1988.
"Right here in Northern Virginia, baby!" York said.
York has been a swim coach in Northern Virginia since the 1970s. He had a partner who could do the screen printing, so Aardvark got into printing on things related to swim teams such as caps, t-shirts and sweatshirts. They developed an ink that is flexible and can stay on all kinds of material. "We just kept printing. We haven't found anything we can't print on,"he said.
His connections to Speedo led the company to ask him to be their printer. And he's never failed the USA Swim Team in delivering the suits, even when he'd receive them so late from Speedo, he and his staff would have to print through the night and rush to get them on a plane.
When the Olympics were in Italy in 2006, York met the head of the USA team at Dulles Airport two days before the Games started and handed over boxes of newly printed suits. York says one time he had to pick up the suits from Speedo at Dulles at two o'clock in the morning. The boxes had split apart and the expensive suits were falling out on the baggage carousel. He was by himself and had to pick up every suit and carefully get them to his car.
"Stuff you'd see on TV may very well have been in this shop getting printed a few days before, over the last three to five Olympics. It's mindboggling," York said, but he always delivers.
This year, Speedo sent the suits early enough so that Aardvark has already printed the suits and sent them to London.
On the hallway outside York's office hang several pictures of U.S. Olympic swimmers who have written personal thank you notes to Aardvark. Olympic gold medalist Tom Dolan donated his now-banned full body suit which Aardvark printed. And Summer Sanders donated her suit from Barcelona in '92.
In Aardvark's retail store, you can see the history of the suits from the paper-thin ones in 1988, to Speedo's F-S 3s and Laser Elites. They're made in Portugal. If you look at the labels in swimsuits, you'll see most are not made in the USA. And Bob York takes issue with the current controversy.
"I think it's ridiculous to start whining that our Olympic outfitting was done by Ralph Lauren and was made in China. Well then, make it more conducive to have it done here in the United States," he said.
Bob York has been a swim team coach since the 1970s..and now has a year round team with 600 swimmers.
And to be fully transparent, we should note that WUSA reporter Peggy Fox's children swim with the York team.
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