Since the age of 7, Trinity Classical Academy and Paseo Aquatics swimmer Helena Salvino has had a strong passion for swimming. It wasn’t until recently that the sport that she adores inspired her to pursue the creation of her own swim apparel line: Off The Block Swim Company.
Swimming competitively for Paseo Aquatics for the past six years, Salvino has been a standout breaststroke and freestyle swimmer since she hit the water. Spending countless hours training in the pool over the years, Salvino’s dedication and swimming abilities grew as did her bond with her teammates.
“First off, it’s my team,” Salvino said. “I really like everybody on my team because they are my friends. They make it enjoyable even when practices are really hard and push me to keep going. I really like my coaches too.”
Entering her freshman year at Trinity Classical Academy this past year, Salvino helped the Knights swim team win their fourth straight Heritage League title in April. Salvino finished the meet with two individual first-place finishes in the girls 200-yard freestyle and the 100-yard freestyle. She was also part of the first-place girls 200-yard medley relay team.
But one thing was missing.
Attending swim meet after swim meet over the years, Salvino noticed that there weren’t very many swim clothing options besides the T-shirts that were handed out at every meet that advertise the meet’s name.
Going over ideas and fashion concepts, Salvino decided to take action and came up with the idea to create a swim apparel line with the intentions of filling the void for the swimming community.
“I just felt that swim was underrepresented and there wasn’t really anything for us to wear,” Salvino said. “There wasn’t anything for guys (to wear) either, so I just felt like I could do it. I’m creative and it was just easy for me to think of designs and everything.”
Spending hours in meetings and reaching out to vendors over spring break, Salvino, with the help of her mother, Theresa, began to build her brand for an expected launch date in June.
She called her endeavor ‘Off The Block Swim Company’ and designed a logo, T-shirt and sticker graphics, as well as the company’s tag line, ‘Made by a swimmer, for the swimmers.’
Successfully launching an online store, www.offtheblockswimco.com, and an Instagram account, @offtheblockswimco, in June, Salvino also set up ‘trunk shows’ at various swim meets and instantly got positive feedback from non-swimmers and swimmers alike.
“They have really loved it,” she said. “They say that the shirts are really soft, the stickers are relatable and they love the colors too.”
With the company and her brand gaining popularity, Salvino has since applied for a permit that will allow her to sell at more swim meets and locations, and bought a trailer that she can use to easily transport her merchandise for more ‘trunk shows’ throughout the summer.
Salvino attributes her friends and word of mouth for the momentum that her brand has picked up since its creation.
“Sales have been really good, especially because of my friends that have helped me advertise,” she said. “They have been really supportive and been a really big help by getting the brand out there.”
As of right now, Off The Block Swim Company features T-shirts for men, women and youth, as well as quirky stickers. Salvino has expectations of expanding the selection to long-sleeve T-shirts, hoodies and sweatpants in the fall.
“It just made me realize that it’s a start of something,” Salvino said. “It’s a lot of hard work, but it’s fun to see people wearing my clothes.”
The next opportunity to buy some of Salvino’s merchandise will be at the Paseo Greater Pacific Invitational at Castaic Aquatics Center from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.