The beginnings of a very British Triathlon Clothing Brand

Tenola founder and CEO Ian Nolan has a lifelong love of all things active and has competed in a variety of sports over the years involving mud, sweat and tears – the latter following various serious sporting injuries! But it was the challenge of the dual or tri-disciplines of Triathlon, testing not only fitness but endurance and skill that truly captivated him and led to an ongoing passion for the sport.

A younger Ian undertook an engineering apprenticeship that led to a long career within the industrial sector but throughout these years, Ian’s free-time was packed with a multitude of sporting activities.  As early as the 1980’s, Ian began to see a gap in the market for premium quality British designed and manufactured active apparel. It was only when he took voluntary redundancy in 2012 that Ian finally had the opportunity to make his concept of Tenola Triathlon Wear into a reality.  Inspired by his mothers’ sewing background, Ian had a clear vision for a range of multi-activity sportswear, developed, tested and approved by tri-athletes.

The onset of family life saw a natural migration from team sports to more individual activities which could fit more easily in with his growing commitments. Over the years the family’s sporting activities included skiing, cycling and sailing and Ian was soon attracted to the Winter Triathlon where he could test his fitness mettle.  Ian was hooked and began training for his first Triathlon enduring a 400m swim, 20km bike ride and a 5k run. Having been well and truly bitten by the triathlon bug, the new millennium saw Ian begin investing in appropriate tri-wear and equipment.  Over the subsequent years Ian was surprised to find that the tri-clothing market was dominated by foreign imports.  Seeing a gap in the market for high performance, UK designed and made Tri-clothing, and based upon his own requirements and experiences whilst competing, Ian decided to plug this gap and launch a range of tri-clothing. Thus, the seed for a British made brand – Tenola Triathlon wear – was sown.

Based upon designs by British swimwear and sportswear designer Sally Blake which encompass both superior fit and function, the first Tenola prototypes were produced in late 2014 and used for sizing, fit and performance evaluation. The following year a second, modified prototype was produced leading to the development of the two piece range and swim training clothing. After a period of further product testing and after the development of a new, cutting edge fabric, 2017 saw the first production run of the Tenola tri-suit. The Tenola brand officially launched in February 2018, offering a range of British made swimsuits and tri-wear for men and women.

Relentlessly energetic, like many keen Tri-athletes, Ian has supported numerous charities over the years through a variety of sporting events. He remains committed to developing sporting opportunities for aspiring athletes and people with special needs through various coaching roles, in triathlon clubs and other sporting activities. Alongside setting up Tenola, Ian also works part time as Support worker for Deaf, Blind charity, is a sports coach in mainstream and special needs primary schools, and as a swimming teacher/swimming coach.