Embrace Your Inner Kid With Grown Up Swimming

Courtesy of SwimTopia, a SwimSwam partner.

Who doesn’t remember the glorious annual escapade that was summer swim team? Matching team suits, quirky and ritualistic cheers, colorful ribbons, crispy burnt shoulders, the everpresent whiff of sunscreen, and the uplifting feeling of team spirit. Summer swim.

We at SwimTopia fondly remember our own summers spent racing for our local teams, whether we were a shark, barracuda, porpoise or other aquatic creature 😛. Now, those of us with kiddos watch our young ones take the mantle and represent with pride.

But what if…the fun didn’t have to be over? What if…summer swim team was still very much a “thing” for all of us grown up kids?

Introducing Grown Up Swimming, also known as GUS. GUS is exactly what you might expect- summer swim team for Grown Ups. Started by Brian Robbins in Atlanta, Georgia, GUS is currently flourishing in many different cities across the USA, with more arriving by the week. Events are short and sweet, just as we all remember (and, if we’re being honest, prefer): mostly 25’s but with some 50’s and, every 4 years, a long-course style racing format (in celebration of the Olympics). With cook-outs, multigenerational relays (compete on a team with, or against, your kiddos!), swag, and laid back practice protocols, GUS has the magic formula.

Robbins’ intention when starting the first few Atlanta-based GUS teams was to create a low pressure competitive environment. This would allow adults to race, sure, but also create the same types of memories they did as summer swimmers. However, the vision has expanded and leagues can be found in Texas, Tennessee, Georgia, and the North-East (with future plans to have an established league in each city).

In January 2024, US Master’s Swimming (USMS) partnered with GUS, making a formidable duo in the world of adult swimming. GUS gives USMS swimmers the opportunity to compete in lower stress environments and meet people outside of their typical network. A win-win that means, if swimmers are already active in their USMS communities, they can easily incorporate GUS into their racing regimen.

We spoke with Brian Robbins himself to learn a little bit more about GUS and the impact it’s having on the adult swim scene. Read more below:

Q: What was your main inspiration in starting GUS?

A: We actually started as the Atlanta Adult Swim League back in 2007 as part of the Atlanta Swim Association. That was before I was eligible for the 18+ league, so I certainly can’t take credit for starting it. I came on board as the league director in 2017 and just had a blast running it with our couple of Team Captains. 

The inspiration to try to grow and eventually form what is now Grown-Up Swimming was the first meet I ran in 2017. I didn’t know what the heck I was doing. The timing system wasn’t working, the printer wasn’t working, and we started the meet about 45 minutes late. But very few people cared: it was a summery Friday hanging by the neighborhood pool with our friends. Burgers and dogs were on the grill and the slushy machine was working overtime. All that was missing was some nachos with the gross cheese and a side of Fun Dip. 

We eventually got the technology figured out enough to run some semblance of a summer league meet that night, and you could say I’ve been working ever since to give everyone across the country access to adult summer league swimming. Because, why should we let the kids have all the fun?

Q: How big would you say GUS is now? What numbers are we looking at in terms of athletes/leagues?

A: We ended 2023 with 7 leagues and 1,078 registrations. This year, we have League Directors (“Regional Grown-Ups”) in 23 cities, which means we’re in the middle of launching 16 new leagues. As you can imagine, we’ll have a few more than the 1,078 swimmers this year!

Q: Could you describe what a typical season looks like?

A: We run 3-4 “regular season” meets plus a Championship in each League. Each meet, with a few exceptions, will have 25s, 50s, the 100 IM, and some relays.

Q: What types of folks have you seen taking part in GUS over the years? 

A: It’s a pretty good mix. We’re popular with recent swimming burnouts who wouldn’t be caught dead at a 5:30am workout but could be convinced to swim some 25’s a few times per summer. We’re popular with parents whose family life doesn’t allow them time for themselves- we run a multi-gen relay for them to swim with their kids, and our meets only last a couple of hours. Shoot, sometimes we have the kids time for us. How’s that for a change of pace? We also have some more experienced swimmers. Probably 70-80% of our swimmers are true summer leaguers. They are in the pool May-September and compete in their local Grown-UP Swimming League. The rest will train year-round with a USMS team or lap swim.

Q: How are people reacting to GUS? What has the general reception been?

A: Overwhelmingly positive. In any room of former swimmers (or adult swimmers), 90% of them probably grew up in summer league or rec league swimming. I wouldn’t trust the accuracy of that stat given my infamous inability to count to 8 in a 200 freestyle buuuut it sounds about right though…?

Anyway, you don’t need to count to anything in a 25 Butterfly. The point is that summer league swimming is where a lot of swimmers fall in love with the sport. It’s remembered as a time when the sport was fun before it turned into doing 10,000-yard workouts or chasing cuts or best times. Grown-Up Swimming allows Grown People to turn back into Kids around the pool for just a little bit each summer. You can’t help but smile at that thought.

Q: Can you speak a little bit about GUS’ recent partnership with USMS?

A: Yes! Grown-Up is officially part of the USMS family of brands, and it’s a perfect match! USMS is empowering Grown-Up to get into every metro area across the county, and we serve their mission of “empowering adults to improve their lives through swimming” perfectly – just through our unique model. 

Q:  What has your experience been using SwimTopia/Meet Maestro for team and meet management for your teams?

A: We’ve been working with SwimTopia since 2019, and it’s been awesome. The SwimTopia team has been an unbelievably supportive partner for, now, the 6th season by providing great, scalable technology infrastructure and –more importantly — the best support in the industry. It’s hard to imagine managing 23 leagues around the country without SwimTopia.

Q: Do you have any recommendations for those looking to get involved?

A: There are 3 main ways to get involved:

  1. Start a league
  2. Form a team
  3. Register for the season

If folks don’t live near one of our leagues, they should reach out about starting a league in their town. If they do live near a league, registration is currently either open or close to being open for the summer. In that case, they should either join an existing team in that league or start a new one.

SwimTopia is cheering for Robbins and all the GUS teams this summer AND we’re excited to compete in our own team/league this summer 😁. Happy summer swim season!




SwimTopia’s meet management solution Meet Maestro has the same fluid functionality and is included with every SwimTopia account. Meet Maestro makes it easy to create swim meets, create entries, and seamlessly run meets through a browser. In tandem with SwimTopia’s mobile app, users can receive updates for “favorite” swimmers, view live results, receive swim reminders and results notifications, and see an overview of their family’s account (with best times, volunteer points, and more).

Receptive and adaptive, SwimTopia’s “customer first” mentality has helped the company grow to benefit the swim team market. Find out if SwimTopia is a fit for you! Start a free trial here.

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