2018 Club Excellence Program Size Breakdown

USA Swimming released the list of its bronze, silver, and gold medal swim clubs for 2018 in late December of last year, with Nation’s Capital topping the list for the fourth straight year.

Click here to learn more about the recognition process.

One of the main criticisms that often arises in regard to the Club Excellence program is that it a favors enormous teams with a handful of satellite locations, but in reality, the team size breakdown shows that 72 percent of teams receiving gold, silver, or bronze honors have 400 or fewer members.

Granted, teams with multiple hundreds of swimmers aren’t “small,” but it does go to show that it doesn’t take 1000+ swimmers to get recognition or even reach gold medal status in most cases.

Just 20 percent of the 2018 gold medal clubs have over 900 swimmers.

It is worth noting that no team was able to achieve ‘gold’ status with fewer than 200 members, and only 1 team was able to achieve that status with fewer than 300 members.

This data was posted to Facebook by USA Swimming Sport Development Consultant Jeff Allen.

Check out the entire team size breakdown below:

1-100 8 5 13 6.50%
101-200 30 13 43 21.50%
201-300 27 27 1 55 27.50%
301-400 16 13 4 33 16.50%
401-500 8 7 3 18 9.00%
501-600 7 3 4 14 7.00%
601-700 2 1 2 5 2.50%
701-800 2 3 1 6 3.00%
801-900 2 1 3 1.50%
901-1000 1 1 0.50%
1001+ 5 4 9 4.50%
100 80 20

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My club team growing up had <100 members and still saw several NAG-ranked age group swimmers (a few even hitting #1 in the country in a given year). It seems that model just doesn't exist anymore. Now the goal is consolidate as many teams as possible so you have a larger pool of athletes for relays, national-meet travel teams, etc. In the end, this favors heavily-populated suburban areas near big cities.

Just saying.


The goal is not to consolidate as many teams as possible for the reasons you stated, the reality is that teams need to consolidate to pool (no pun) resources to remain financially viable. That’s why small clubs get gobbled up or merge, they are not financially viable without the big numbers (in most cases).


Swimming is also getting more and more popular with time


We swim at one site and are a gold medal team.

It is possible to run a gold medal team out of one site. coachymccoachface – without giving away your identity, I’ll point out that your “one site” includes an indoor 50m pool, indoor dive pool, an additional auxilary outdoor pool, and a separate site that hosts all of our learn-to-swim programs.

While the indoor part of the facility is shared – your team’s “one site” is one of maybe a less-than-5 places in the country where “one site” offers quite so much space without having to share with a university team/student body. Add to that 6000-people-per-square-mile, and a high level of affluence, and it’s a very unique situation indeed.


Yes, exactly!

One point of my rambling post in the beginning is that it appears this formula rewards both quantity AND quality, and those clubs without quantity will hardly ever get recognized.

On the other hand, though, this is a nice recognition program that comes with perks – but the fear of changing it is that by putting things on a “per swimmer” basis, you’re incentivizing clubs to trim their slower swimmers. That’s not good for USA Swimming (fewer dues), the sport (fewer participants), the clubs (less revenue), or the athletes (because swimming has always been a place where the less-physically-impressive athletes can excel as compared to many other sports). There’s no perfect system that I can think of. You can recognize clubs based on just their top X athletes (100, 150, etc.), but then that further focuses coaches on the ‘fast kids,’ which is their natural inclination anyway. The current system… Read more »


I never said it was a small site! But for real, we didn’t start this large. It took years of blood sweat and tears to build what makes our program successful. It’s a little insulting to see people think that teams “just get big and you’ll be good!” Our owners and staff built swim schools and our pool. It took over 10 years of fundraising and god knows what else to get it paid for and in the ground. Nothing was gifted. I understand some teams don’t have the same ability to grow based on either population or other factors, but I hope nobody thinks Rome was built in a day. (Not that any of these teams are Rome, the… Read more »

Swim dad

The USA swimming formula favors the large. In reality,NCAP is a franchise of a handful of separate teams, run with their own profit centers, sharing a common brand. Try switching from one franchise to another, inside of NCAP. Constructively, I’d love to see an award for ratio of kids to, say power points, or kids to points at champs meets. It’d be telling.


I’d like to see a breakdown as to how many teams there are of each size, 0-100, 101-200, 201-300 and so on, Then tell me what percentage of those teams achieved bronze, silver, or gold status.


I concur.

Small Teams are People Too

I believe the statistic is that nearly 70% of the club teams in the USA have fewer than 150 athletes registered. So it’s nice that “only 20%” of the medals were for clubs over 900 athletes, but that’s not reflective of the way the majority of clubs look today. This program is improving, but still has a way to go before being completely inclusive of our CURRENT club demographics.


What is “completely inclusive” in your mind? 13 teams with less than 100 swimmers earned medals, that’s pretty inclusive. I think you are advocating equality of outcome versus equality of opportunity, two very different things. This program gives ever club a chance to earn medals regardless of team size, which is the definition of equality of opportunity.

About Torrey Hart

Torrey Hart

Torrey is from Oakland, CA, and majors in media studies and American studies at Claremont McKenna College, where she swims distance freestyle for the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps team. Outside of SwimSwam, she has bylines at Yahoo Sports, SB Nation, and The Student Life newspaper.

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