Swimming: Phelps teams with Aqua Sphere to develop suit line

Olympic swimming great Michael Phelps, on a comeback that could take him to the Rio Games, is teaming up with a swimwear manufacturer to develop a line of competitive swimming equipment.

Phelps launched his comeback in April after a 20-month retirement as a "free agent" after his deal with longtime sponsor Speedo expired at the end of 2013.

On Tuesday, as Phelps geared up for Wednesday's start of the US championships in Irvine, California, Aqua Sphere announced that the 18-time Olympic gold medalist and coach Bob Bowman had signed on help develop new products for the company that currently designs and manufactures swimwear, wetsuits, eyewear, and accessories for triathletes, open-water, and fitness swimmers.

Phelps said he expects to be competing in a new suit made by the company next January. Such new products must be approved by the world governing body FINA before they can be used in competition.

"Michael Phelps is one of the select global icons in all of sports, while Coach Bob Bowman is a true swimming mastermind," Todd Mitchell, business line manager for Aqua Sphere said in a statement.

bb/nr