By  on February 1, 2010

Paula Schneider has departed as president of Speedo USA.

Schneider’s exit was confirmed by Speedo spokeswoman Audra Silverman, who declined further comment. Schneider could not be reached.

Warnaco Group Inc., which holds the license for Speedo in perpetuity, is said to be searching for a replacement.

Helen McCluskey remains at the helm of Warnaco’s global swimwear in addition to its intimates business as a group president at the New York-based apparel firm.

During Schneider’s tenure, Speedo’s LZR Racer was a star in the pool as Michael Phelps swam his way to a record eight gold medals at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. But the golden moment was short lived for the LZR Racer, which has been banned from competition by swimming’s governing body FINA. In December, Schneider announced a Speedo suit called LZR Racer Elite to comply with FINA’s updated rules on swimwear.

Schneider became president of Speedo USA after former president Sheree Waterson, now Lululemon Athletica Inc.’s executive vice president of general merchandise management and sourcing, left the brand in 2007. Schneider joined Warnaco in 2006 as president of designer swimwear for several brands, including Anne Cole and Michael Kors, that Warnaco ceased producing or sold in 2007, with the exception of Calvin Klein. Prior to Warnaco, she was president of Laundry by Shelli Segal, a division of Liz Claiborne Inc., and president of sales at BCBG Max Azria.

In the third quarter ending Oct. 3, 2009, the last for which Warnaco has reported financial data, the Speedo-led swimwear division declined 5 percent to generate $30.2 million in revenues and reported an operating loss of $7.4 million. The company blamed lower sales in the sporting goods channel and a lack of Olympics-related sales for the slumping performance.

In contrast, Warnaco’s swimwear division grew around 11 percent in fiscal year 2008 to generate $702.3 million in revenues, $308.1 million of which were in the U.S., and account for 12.6 percent of Warnaco’s total revenues. The division registered a positive operating income of nearly $11.5 million at the time.

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