Synergy was born in the early 1990s. It was conceptualized around developing triathlon wetsuits, clothing, bikes and accessories. Back in the early days of triathlon, good equipment was hard to come by and we were a handful of athletes, entrepreneurs, engineers and opportunists, who tried our luck in developing products in a fast evolving marketplace. In the mid-nineties, Synergy was put on hold in favor of developing another aspiring brand – Orca. Orca grew into one of the largest brands in triathlon at the time and I was the US distributor. In 2008 a major breach brought about the re-birth of Synergy and the advent of other similar brands like 2XU, F2R, 19, Four and others. This breach led Synergy to focus even more intently on developing the best products at a good value, while maintaining a balance between doing the work and living the sport!
The history and people behind Synergy includes the story of a young Danish triathlete, Stefan Laursen, who inadvertently made a brand out of the necessity of creating better and faster gear for his own benefit as a professional athlete. In developing our new website, I shall share a few details about myself and my results in our sport. Obviously, my results tell a tale of a guy who was near the top of his game, but never came close to being the best. I have decided to share a little because I want to explain what sets Synergy apart from most other brands in our sport. Hardly any Triathlon brands have any direct roots in the sport, with the exception of Emilio DeSoto, whom I have raced many times. I don’t believe that I had the genetics to make it as the best, but I certainly had the tenacity, and when I hit my limitations, like I did with swimming (I didn’t learn how to swim until my first triathlon when I was 13), I hunkered down and devised a plan to make a better wetsuit than anything out there to give me an advantage.
People often ask me why I was doing triathlons in the first place? It all started when I was 10-years old. I had gone to a summer camp in St. Louis and during the 1 week camp, I came to the sad realization that I was terrible at every single sport I tried. Back in Denmark, I had grown up near a badminton venue (badminton is an indoor sport and infinitely harder than triathlon) and my brother was something of a star at the sport at the time. Other kids would laugh at me when I played because I was so terribly uncoordinated. My legs were kind of crooked and it looked funny when I ran – a little like Forrest Gump, I imagine. Like Forrest Gump, I found myself in a moment of deep despair at a very young age and I decided to do something about it. I decided that if I could put my will power to work and achieve some level of greatness within the sport of badminton at which I so totally sucked at, I could then prove to myself that with sheer will power and determination, I could achieve anything. Pretty big stuff for a 10-year old.
So, I began asking around about how to create a training plan. It seems almost impossible to fathom today, but in 1980, no one knew anything about training and the prevailing axiom was to train hard one day, take it easy the next, then train hard again and so on… I then began studying up on whatever literature there was on how to train. Following simple principles, I worked myself up to being able to handle no less than 25 hours a week of training. Incredible volume even today and so much more so considering I was only 11-years old. The next 5 years flew by and were some of my happiest years. Training was hard, but the results were amazing. I quickly became good, started winning tournaments and rose through the ranks playing very equal matches with some of the very best in the world. When I was 13, a friend of mine suggested we try this new thing called triathlon. We prepared in his 20ft long, 48 degrees cold pool. I basically learned how to swim during the few weeks we prepared doing super short “swims”, intense bike rides and brick runs. It was in April – and anyone who lives in Denmark knows how miserable the weather can be there – and it was! The race went well and I placed 3rd overall. This turned out to be a great validation of my training and I felt I had found a new sport, where I could use the volume of training I was doing to my advantage.
As I did more and more races, I began winning nearly everything I entered and by 16, I got my USTS Pro License. A new career had begun, but I was still busy with school and making products for Synergy. The next 15 years were a mix of business adventures during the off season, racing triathlons, cycling and running during the season and doing exotic training and racing trips through South East Asia, the Caribbean and The South Pacific. During my triathlon tenure, I managed (among other results) to place 2nd at Pro USTS Nationals in 1996, take 3rd in Santos in 1997 and win the Coca Cola Series in 1999. In 2000 after failing to qualify for the Olympics by just a few miserable points, it was time to move on from the pro triathlon ranks and focus more intently on Synergy. I have chronicled some of the more amusing stories from my racing career in my blog as a way to keep them alive for myself and my friends, who where there.