Q: What's the deal with Black Line Swimming?
A: Our founder, Tim Taylor, got the idea for BLS in 2015. To make a long story short-ish, he wanted to see if it was possible to create world class, state of the art, innovative competition pool equipment at a more reasonable price that will allow teams out there that have been priced out of the current market to afford top of the line gear. After a few years of behind the scenes research, he formed BLS in 2018 and here we are! Rather than just focus on one or two products, we have a vision of eventually being a one-stop shop for all your competition facility equipment, from blocks and pace clocks, to ropes and flags, to training aids, to software, and much more! We're a tiny group of lifelong swimmers and coaches who all have a deep, abiding love of the sport of swimming and start our product design process with two questions: 1) What would be of use to me as a coach or swimmer? 2) How can we make this as reasonably priced as possible, while still designing and manufacturing/assembling it with innovative, state of the art technology in the US, so we can make it as affordable as possible for potential customers?
Q: What sets your products apart from (XYZ Competitor)?
A: In general, there are three things that separate our products as a whole from the products our more established competitors:
- We use all of our products day in and day out. Every single member of the BLS team is a coach and/or swimmer, so we make stuff that we use all the time. We don't make any product that we don't use either with our own swimmers, or on our own as swimmers. As we continue expanding our product offerings, we'll continue to use each and every single one of them day in and day out.
- We truly bring an innovative, modern mindset to our products! Take pace clocks, for example--prior to 2015, when Tim started researching pace clocks, there were only a handful of companies that made digital LED pace clocks, and they'd been selling pretty much the same exact clocks for 20+ years, with more or less feature and price parity. Those sky high priced, antiquated pace clocks are still on the market today. We start our product design process with a clean sheet. For our Freestyle Pace Clock, for example, we started brainstorming by asking ourselves and our coaching friends what we'd like to see in a pace clock, what functionality and features would be useful and helpful to us as coaches and to our swimmers, then started designing the product from there. The Freestyle Pace Clock brings with it some truly class-exclusive features that none of our competitors offer, all as a result from starting with a clean sheet design. One of the big themes as a result of our modern way of designing products is twofold--modularity and standard components. Take our Medley Starting Block, for example--it's designed to be modular, so if you want to add any accessories (track start handles, foot wedge, starter speaker/light, etc), or replace the platform surface, all of those components can be added to any of our blocks at any time. We're working on a timing system that we plan to release in the next year or two that will use as many non-proprietary components as possible, so if a cable breaks, you can just go to your local electronics store or Amazon and get a replacement, without having to pay through the nose for a proprietary cable from us.
- Pricing. All right, this is kinda the elephant in the room. Our pricing is significantly lower than our competitors. We're a lean, mean, fighting machine and we have substantially less overhead (and profit margins) than our competitors. Our main goal is to democratize world class, state of the art equipment so those teams that have been priced out of the status quo market can afford to buy top quality gear. We here at BLS all LOVE the sport of swimming and want to see it grow and impact other swimmers' lives as much as it's impacted ours, so we're playing our part by creating reasonably priced products that doesn't cut any corners on quality or features/functionality, all while being designed and manufactured/assembled right here in the US.
Q: Where is BLS based?
A: We're all over the US! We're headquartered in Northern Virginia, but our staff is scattered across the US in Virginia, Michigan, Maryland, California, etc. Our manufacturing partners are also scattered across the US.
Q: Speaking of products, what else are you guys working on?
A: You can check out our full product roadmap here! It's got every product we're going to be working on over the next few years, along with our projected timeline for when we expect to release the products. It is a live roadmap, so products will get moved around and timelines can change, so be sure to check back regularly if you're interested in a particular product!
Q: I've got an idea for a new product, or an idea on how to improve one of your products, can I contact Black Line Swimming with my idea?
A: We'd absolutely love to hear from you! Drop Tim a note at firstname.lastname@example.org and he'd be delighted to talk through your ideas with you.