Laura Templin had spent her entire life wearing swimsuits, both recreationally and in competition. She says, in fact, that she’s more comfortable in a suit than she is in regular clothes.
And yet when it came time to find a fashionable and functional bathing suit that could serve her well while playing in the pool with her children, the former Laura Swander experienced the same frustrations and discomfort that almost every other woman does.
“We all know swimsuit shopping is a problem,” she said. “It’s hard, and it’s stressful, and you never feel good in the suits. It’s just not an enjoyable process.”
And on top of that, Templin — a 2000 Center Grove graduate who went on to swim at Auburn University and in the 2000 and 2004 U.S. Olympic Trials — just wasn’t finding what she was looking for. She wanted a durable recreational suit that would offer the same support that she got from her racing suits but also not look like a racing suit.
As she shopped around, Templin kept coming up empty. Finally, a friend asked: If you can’t find the suit you want, what’s stopping you from making it?
Turns out the answer was … nothing.
Last January, Templin launched LT Swimwear, a company aiming to fill, in the words of her website (LTSwimwear.com), “the piece of my pie that completes my needs that I couldn’t find anywhere else.”
The pieces came together quickly. Templin had spent years working for Speedo and TYR before moving from Minnesota to Athens, Georgia with her family, so she had several contacts to help her with the aspects of the business she wasn’t familiar with. By last March, she had found a California-based manufacturer that had helped her create a pattern and get the fit that she wanted for her suits.
While on a family spring break trip to the beach, Templin got the news that COVID-19 was essentially shutting the entire world down. Her plans for a mid-May launch — in time for swimsuit shopping season — were shot.
Instead, LT Swimwear made its debut in the middle of July.
“At that point, the season was done,” Templin said. “Luckily in Georgia, the pools were still open.”
Though she was able to do a modest amount of business during the back half of 2020, she’s eager to see what being up and running at the start of shopping season will bring. LT debuted a two-piece suit at the end of last year, and Templin is coming back to Indiana this weekend for her first-ever trunk show at Lois Pearl Boutique in Yorktown, where she spent her younger years before coming to Center Grove.
As frustrating as the delayed entry into the market has been, Templin truly believes the timing has worked out for the best.
“I’m actually really grateful that I’ve had this year to figure it out,” she said. “It’s sort of been a trial run. Whether it’s figuring out how to sell in a pandemic — obviously, everyone’s experiencing this and having to pivot and change their strategies and what they’re doing.
“I knew all of those things, but I hadn’t ever done them before.”
Now that’s she’s done it, Templin is excited to get her products out there, and she’s hopeful that there are enough women out there who are looking for the same things that she was in a swimsuit.
Basically, finding that “mom ground” between too little coverage and too much.
“There’s a middle ground between suits you wear in your 20s and suits that you wear for aquatic fitness when you are older,” Templin said. “There’s a fine balance that I wanted to strike … The suit I was looking for was a little less coverage — but not to the point where it’s for the Miami beaches. It has to hit that middle ground.”
Having found that middle ground, Templin is ready for her new company to make a big splash in 2021.
“We’re going to just rock and roll this year,” she said. “I’m really excited.”