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Parched former football players launch OXYwater as sugar-free, no caffeine hydration drink

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When Preston Harrison was playing football for the Ohio State Buckeyes in the mid-1990s, he wished that he had a sport drink that could hydrate and nourish him without sugar and caffeine.

Since he couldn't find such a drink,  he and his friend Tom Jackson decided to create one.  Last month, OXYwater, their brand of oxygen enhanced mineral water, began selling in select Columbus retailers.  The beverage will be available statewide in about three stores by the end of September, says Russell Pinto, marketing manager for OXYwater.

Pinto says Harrison and Jackson first came up with the idea for OXYwater back in their football playing days. 

"They felt there was nothing good out there for muscle cramping," he says.  "They also wanted a drink with no sugar."

While Pinto says that OXYwater doesn't proclaim any medical benefits, it does claim to offer the same antioxidant values of five servings of fruits and vegetables due to its heightened oxygen content.  The drink's website also claims that the increased oxygen can make the flavored water taste naturally sweeter.

With careers in the nutrition supplement business, Harrison and Jackson had some background in how to market a new nutritional sport beverage.

OXYwater has agreements with Whole Foods to carry the drink in its Ohio stores, as well as GNC retailers, Walgreens and some convenience markets.  By later this fall, Pinto says the product should also be available at retailers in neighboring states and throughout the country by the end of 2012.

The 20-ounce plastic bottle in three flavors sells for roughly $2.79.  First year sales are expected to reach up to $12 million, says Pinto.

The water is manufactured and bottled in Wisconsin, but all distribution is handled through the company's warehouse and headquarters in Westerville.  OXYwater has 20 employees now, and plans to hire at least 15 more by the end of its first year, says Pinto.

Source: Russell Pinto, OXYwater
Writer: Val Prevish
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