4 Reasons Why Cities Should Support Swim Teams

Courtesy: Elizabeth Wickham

As swim parents, swimmers and coaches, we know the importance of a good club team. I’m not sure every city manager or parks and rec department fully understand swimming and how a team enriches the fabric of their community. In my years as a swim mom and Masters swimmer, we’ve gone to city hall more than once to express the importance of keeping the pool open or to gain support for our team. Education and promotion of swimming throughout the community to non-swimmers and city staff can only help make our sport stronger.

Here are four ways a swim team impacts a city:


Life and death.

Swimming saves lives. According to the USA Swimming Foundation, “drowning is the 2nd leading cause of unintentional injury death, with the highest rates among children ages 1-4.” The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states “every day, about ten people die from unintentional drowning. Of these, two are children aged 14 or younger. Drowning ranks fifth among the leading causes of unintentional injury death in the United States.” Swim teams help make kids and adults water safe with learn to swim programs.



Swim teams help their city by supporting the swim facility with long-term, year-round rental fees. When a team hosts a meet with close to 1,000 swimmers, those kids aren’t coming to town on their own. You’ll see mom and dad, and possibly siblings and grandparents, bringing closer to 3,000 or more people to stay in hotels, explore activities and dine in restaurants. A team that hosts successful meets can bring in millions of dollars to a city over time. The meet may be the first introduction for many families to your city and pool. If they have a great experience, they’ll tell their swim friends and come back.


Healthy Lifestyle.

Obesity in adults and children is at epidemic levels in our country. Keeping kids active is one of the best ways parents can impact the rest of their lives to be healthier. Swimming is one of the best exercises because it works our hearts and lungs, is low impact and builds strength because of water’s resistance. A swim team will teach children through adults how to swim, improve, and keep everyone motivated. It’s so much easier to work hard in the pool with a team rather than all alone. Plus, it’s a sport we can enjoy forever.


Opening Doors.

A swim team can open doors for kids to get into college. One of our former coaches who moved from Peru as a child said being on a swim team made it possible for him to go to college. Whether it’s earning a swim scholarship or opening a door, swim teams can propel student-athletes to find their spot in college.

What are other reasons why cities should support their swim teams?

Elizabeth Wickham volunteered for 14 years on her kids’ club team as board member, fundraiser, newsletter editor and “Mrs. meet manager.” She’s a writer with a bachelor of arts degree in editorial journalism from the University of Washington with a long career in public relations, marketing and advertising. Her stories have appeared in newspapers and magazines including the Los Angeles Times, Orange County Parenting and Ladybug. You can read more parenting tips on her blog.

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Kathee Hayes
4 years ago

This was great. Friends are made and even if one or the other moves away swim sometimes can bring them together again. Shows children discipline too

Ruth-Ann Bode
4 years ago

I so agree with this article- swimming pools save lives in so many ways. Unfortunately, most cities are cutting budgets for programs like pools and aquatics. I live in Louisville, KY. No new public pools here- and we could use a few!

Jeff Denton
4 years ago

Our city made our long course pool into a hockey rink. Then built a splash park with a lap pool five feet short of regulation to discourage that damn swim team from thinking it was for them.

Mark Rauterkus
4 years ago

Nice reasons, but there are two more that I’m always promoting.

ONE, we need lifeguards at the pools. When the swim teams dies / evaporate, then there are not enough kids who like to swim and know how to swim to become lifeguards. They don’t have fun at the pools and would rather mow grass or flip burgers and not work in aquatic settings. I did a rant on this at https://guard.cloh.org/magic-number-is-60/

TWO: We need to teach our kids how to play well with others. Get in the game, mix it up, compete, train, and battle with other friends in the pool. Sportsmanship, teamwork, PLAY matters. And, for all the athletes, getting… Read more »

4 years ago

i would agree with #1, #3, #4… but income to a city through meet revenue? not a selling point and for several reasons: the size of a facility outweighs the revenue stream from event hosting; the amount of volunteers needed to host a meet of 1000 swimmers (or more) is tremendous; there is a limit to the number of events which could be hosted; etc, etc.

other than a coach-owned or team-owned facility, the next-best option for a city would be to partner with an established club. not only can the club provide the programming leadership, but also help in the revenue stream and profit-sharing.

how many government-run programs actually succeed?

4 years ago

Apparently, at least in upstate NY, there is a shortage of lifeguards so we are hearing of beaches, city pools, and other local facilities being closed for the summer completely or having very limited hours they are open due to a lack of lifeguards to staff the facilities. Surprisingly, many would-be lifeguards I have seen taking classes failed to understand that you actually have to swim fairly well to be a lifeguard. And so, where is there a plentiful supply of people who can swim well enough to become lifeguards? Swim clubs! A built in source of lifeguards could be a healthy, growing, thriving swim club in a community. Support your local swim lesson program and swim clubs (because the… Read more »

any mouse
Reply to  SwimCoachDad
4 years ago

It also means they aren’t paying the lifeguards enough to make it worth their while

4 years ago

I grew up in a city in which we had only two community pools. They were segregated. The facility for the white people was clean and well maintained. The facility where the “other people” tried to escape from the sweltering heat was dirty, unsanitary and very small. When I was in my senior year of HS, I decided to apply for a lifeguarding position at the other pool. While it took a while and some patience and understanding on my part…the kids and few adults who were there accepted me. I was paid LESS as a guard at that facility than I would have been paid at the “White Pool”, but left that summer with many friends of different backgrounds… Read more »

4 years ago

Yes. Thanks for writing this. I also live in a town with poor swimming infrastructure — and it’s the largest city in the state! The state university here has a miserable 6-lane pool where the women’s varsity team trains and competes. We desperately need a long-course pool. Can you imagine a metropolitan area (even a small one) without a regulation-sized track, or football/soccer field, or basketball courts? That’s what not having an Olympic-sized pool is like.

Reply to  SWISHER
4 years ago

You’re complaining about 6 lanes? I grew up swimming ymca that had 4 lanes… try having to practice with 6-8 people in a lane every day from when you’re 8-18

Reply to  Hswimmer
4 years ago

No. I’m complaining about an entire metropolitan area with a quarter million people that doesn’t have an adequate competition pool. About the entire state having only one 50m pool, owned by a small private college which very few people can access. About the general lack of support for aquatic sports in a place where water safety should be a concern, given the amount of open-water in the area.

And I’m thanking the author of the article for writing about the importance of supporting swim teams.

I actually did grow up practicing with 6-8 people in a lane as well, but it wasn’t really relevant to my point.