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 incrased 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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Brian M

Is this taxable income or a stipend?

tallswimmer

Taxable, athletes are responsible for saving enough to pay taxes on the amount, as it’s not withheld by USA Swimming (they’re considered independent contractors, not employees).

gator

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

Test

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

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.

Nate

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

Joel Lin

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.

Walter

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

Wondering

And then go 1:00.3 at Worlds?

Superfan

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!

tallswimmer

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

oldswimguy

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.

Heyitsme

Sad.

Walter

How is this sad?

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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