TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — As a world champion and Olympic triathlete, England-native Rich Allen traveled the world. But, he fell in love with Tampa Bay 25 years ago, when he competed in the St. Anthony’s triathlon. When he retired from professional sports, he decided Pinellas County is where he wanted to be.
Allen recently became an entrepreneur, launching his own sports brand, Stingray, offering up open-water swimming and paddleboards that he designed, drawing on his years as a professional athlete. He says he wanted to create the best products possible, but make them affordable to families and individuals. He even got Olympic swimmer Brooke Bennett on board, who designed a line of googles.
But Allen says while he wants to encourage more people to get out and enjoy the waters of Tampa Bay, he wants to be environmentally conscious too.
“At the end of the day, we’re the ones using the ocean and taking from the ocean and marine life is suffering from humans,” Allen said.
He says he’s troubled by what he sees when he heads out for a swim or to go paddle boarding.
“We’re out there every day training in the ocean and testing our products. We see so much trash and plastic, and we’ve got to do something about it,” he said.
Allen’s The Ocean’s Heartbeat initiative donates 10 percent of Stingray’s annual profits to marine conservation. And, Stingray employees get paid days off to participate in beach clean-ups.
“Stingray wouldn’t be here without the ocean but we have to look after that,” Allen said. “We have a responsibility to do that, and it’s important to us.”
You can visit Stingray’s showroom at 15371 Roosevelt Blvd., Suite 100 in Clearwater, which is equipped with a pool for customers to try out Allen’s line of inflatable paddleboards. Stingray is also online at www.project-stingray.com.