Breaking Down U.S. National Team Funding For 2019-2020

This summer, we’ve been tracking the top 6 Americans in each Olympic event – otherwise known as the U.S. National Team. We’ve also in the past broken down the benefits of making the U.S. National Team, though the biggest one is direct funding from USA Swimming.

See more:

With the national team firming up this week (the qualifying period ends on Sunday, August 25), it’s time to dig into the specifics of athlete funding, which is based on each swimmer’s world rank in their best event.

You can see the full breakdown of the athlete assistance program here, on USA Swimming’s document. We’ll try to simplify the funding gained through the athlete support program below.

Athlete Support Program, 2019-2020

The specifics of the funding change with each year of the quad. We’ll focus in on the coming year, which will apply to athletes named to the team in the next few weeks.

Please note that we’re breaking down the basic monthly athlete support. There are other avenues for support as well: relay funding (essentially based on a comparison of relay splits from major meets this summer for a smaller funding package), performance bonuses, appearance fees and so on.

Monthly Support For U.S. National Teamers

Pro NCAA High School
World Ranking 1-8 $3,244 $1000/$1750 $1,000
World Ranking 9-16 $2,163 $500/$875 $500
Non-APA Rank 1-8 $1,892
Non-APA Rank 9-16 $946

A few notes to help unpack those numbers:

  • If an athlete is on the team in multiple events, they earn funding for their highest-ranking event.
  • The APA is USA Swimming’s Athlete Partnership Agreement, which puts some extra requirements on athletes in exchange for increased funding. The requirements include charity appearances, participation at three Pro Swim Series meets and some paperwork filings detailing training and competition plans. Athletes who do not sign the APA receive the lower funding levels listed above. Athletes who do sign the APA receive the higher funding amount listed.
  • Only athletes with world ranks in the top 16 (as of September 3, 2019) will be able to earn this monthly support.
  • You can only earn national team support from one discipline; an open water swimmer can’t collect open water funding and pool funding simultaneously.
  • Only 52 athletes can receive monthly support each year. Typically, it’s capped at 26 men and 26 women, but if only 22 men finished with top-16 world ranks, the remaining four spots would be available if more than 26 women finished in the top 16 worldwide.
  • The NCAA column shows two different amounts. This is because NCAA swimmers can earn different amounts at different times of the school year. For the 10 months of the school year (September to May), they earn the lower amount, but over the summer (June, July, August), they can earn the higher amount.

With that broken down, stay tuned to SwimSwam for a look at the probable national team (and those likely earning funding) when the qualifying period officially closes.

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4 years ago

High school athletes get less than they used to. Why? That’s sad.

Ol’ Gator
4 years ago

Don’t worry regan, we know you’re mad you don’t get your world record bonus so here’s $1000 !!!

4 years ago

Does an athlete get this funding for every event ranking, just their highest ranking, etc.?

Reply to  wethorn
4 years ago

Highest ranking only

4 years ago

Looking at the funding document, it appears that the individuals with the top 2 fastest times amongst Americans from Worlds, WUGs, Pan-Ams, Nationals, and World Jrs. are eligible for an additional $12,500. That bumps up the yearly compensation for those individuals (assuming they are also Top 8 in the world) up to around 50k.

4 years ago

So national team members that are not in top 16 world rankings do not get funding? Why even have a national team with top 6s if only the top 16 in the world get funding.

Matt H
Reply to  Jared Anderson
4 years ago

I am pretty late to this article – it was re-shared on my social media feed so I just saw it for the first time – so I am not sure if you’ll get this, but I notice on the official roster that the athlete’s coach(es) are listed. Do coaches get any financial or material benefit for putting athletes on the team?

Reply to  Matt H
4 years ago

I believe that they get access to certain camp and educational opportunities. I don’t think there’s any financial reward, but I’m not 100% positive.

4 years ago

What happens if the 52 slots are not fulfilled, and there’s an athlete who is world top 8 or 16, but didn’t make national team because the US is so deep. Would they get funding?

Reply to  anon
4 years ago

I don’t think you have to be top 6 to get APA money if you are qualified. Not positive though

4 years ago


Reply to  Heyitsme
4 years ago

How is this sad?

4 years ago

World class pro swimmers are at least earning at above the US poverty threshold level (except for Non-APA Rank 9-16)

Reply to  gator
4 years ago

How many of them live in the Bay Area? I can’t imagine those training at Berkeley or Palo Alto are doing nearly as well as those training in Gainesville or Athens.

Joel Lin
Reply to  Test
4 years ago

This, along with good coaches of course, is likely why you see pro groups proliferating in Raleigh, Tuscaloosa, Bloomington IN, etc. Unless there is additional family support or other benevolent financial assistance from somewhere else it is impossible to make it work in the Bay Area on this stipend, even at the top range of it.

Reply to  Joel Lin
4 years ago

I would assume that most professional swimmers making this stipend also have some sponsors/competition earnings that make things easier

Joel Lin
Reply to  Nate
4 years ago

I rather doubt the swimmers outside the world top 5 or 10 are getting sponsored by apparel companies or other with much more than free stuff & perhaps some travel expense coverage. I could be wrong, but if you’re not in the absurdly high first tier you have to take lemons & make your own lemonade.

Reply to  Joel Lin
4 years ago

Or you could be like Michael Andrew and go to meets and make some money.

Reply to  Walter
4 years ago

And then go 1:00.3 at Worlds?

Reply to  gator
4 years ago

I think you are reading it wrong (or maybe me) but non APA is money over and above APA monies so those in top 16 get both APA and non APA monies! I think most in top 16 that are pros are making $100k including sponsors, prize money and clinics!

Reply to  Superfan
4 years ago

Nope, you only get one line of funding – i.e. World Ranked #1 APA swimmer makes $38,928/year.

Reply to  gator
4 years ago

Almost all of these supported swimmers will have endorsement deals, most notably with swimsuit companies. These range from $25K to over $1MM. They also can pick up a few thousand dollars on the pro circuit and if they choose to go to Europe pick up more on their pro circuit. Most of them will have annual incomes north of $100K, hardly poverty level wages. Swimming has come a long way in the last couple decades and hopefully will continue to increase compensation.

About Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson swam for nearly twenty years. Then, Jared Anderson stopped swimming and started writing about swimming. He's not sick of swimming yet. Swimming might be sick of him, though. Jared was a YMCA and high school swimmer in northern Minnesota, and spent his college years swimming breaststroke and occasionally pretending …

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