May 30, 2015
Erik Vendt is among the most accomplished swimmers in U.S. history. He won an Olympic gold medal at the 2008 Summer Olympic Games in Beijing as a member of the U.S. 800-meter freestyle relay team – and silver medals in the 400-meter individual medley at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney and the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens.
Vendt is the former U.S. record holder in the 1,500 meter freestyle event with a time 14:59.11, a performance that made him the first American to break 15 minutes at this distance. Swimming for the University of Southern California, among Vendt’s many accomplishments were winning five NCAA titles, being named All American 15 times, and winning seven PAC-10 titles. In 2002, Vendt was named NCAA Swimmer of the Year.
Of this it is fairly certain – Erik Vendt knows something about pools – particularly the in-ground variety. As well, Erik Vendt is a native of North Easton. Easton Pool & Spa finds it wholly and mostly appropriate – and is honored – to feature Erik Vendt on our blog.
Vendt is the son of Bill and Kathy Vendt, who now live on Cape Cod. Bill Vendt is an Oliver Ames High School grad. Erik Vendt has an older sister, Allison, also an accomplished swimmer, who attended Oliver Ames before transferring to the Peddie School from which she graduated. Allison went on to the University of Notre Dame where she was a standout swimmer for the Fighting Irish.
As Erik Vendt achieved national ranking in youth swimming, he continued to attend Easton Schools. However, following finishing 8th grade at Easton Junior High School, and in that at the time OA did not have a swimming program, he transferred to Boston College High School, which had swimming team with a distinguished record. (Remembering his days in the Easton school system, Vendt mentions that he ran in the Muscato mile, an event that the Easton Junior High School holds every year for boys and girls in the school’s 7th, 8th, and 9th grades. With a bit of prodding, Vendt reveals that in 7th and 8th grade he finished second in the event, both times to future prep national champion middle distance runner Andy Powell, today a member of the Oliver Ames High School Athletic Hall of Fame.)
At BC High, Vendt won numerous state titles, and as a senior set a state 500-yard freestyle record that remains unbroken. He graduated from BC High in 1999. Easton Pool & Spa caught up with Erik on the phone earlier this week.
“I have only been back in the area for less than a year – and am now living and working in South Boston,” said Erik. “I love the Boston area, and it is great to be back here – and close to my family.”
Erik, who is single, explained that after he retired from competitive swimming in 2008, he entered the world of investment banking, and held positions with firms in San Francisco, Hong Kong, and, most recently, prior to returning to Boston, Los Angeles.
“I gained great experience, and I enjoyed the challenging environment, and did well,” said Erik. “But the sector was not really my passion – and I decided to seek out opportunities with groups that were doing work that were my passion.”
And this brought Erik to South Boston and the start-up company WHOOP (which opened its doors four months ago).
WHOOP is a designer and manufacturer of a wearable device, a system, actually, that, as WHOOP describes, is, “… robust enough to prepare a Navy SEAL for battle, but with the form factor and design that the average athlete would be comfortable wearing 24 hours a day … ”
Erik works in business development for WHOOP.
“WHOOP is precisely the type of company for which I was looking. And its people are extraordinarily smart and dedicated, and highly enthusiastic about their work. WHOOP has a great culture, all around.”
Erik remains active, swimming, daily; he also does CrossFit training, and covers a lot of miles bicycling. He fondly remembers Easton, and remains close with friends he grew up with in the town.
And, as Easton Pool & Spa learned, the family of one of his Easton pals, Jay Barry, had an in-ground pool behind their home on Summer Street in which he used to swim – and hang ouut around – from time to time. (The Barry family has been a long-standing customer and friend of Easton Pool & Spa.)
“I didn’t do any serious training in the pool – but, yeah, I used it. I had a lot of fun over there.”
And which company built that pool? Yes, that would be Easton Pool & Spa. A young man on his way to Olympic glory swimming in a pool we built. You didn’t think we were going to keep that bit of history a secret – did you?