Girls Swimming 8th, Boys Swimming 10th Most Popular High School Sport in United States

The National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) has released a summary of their annual participation statistics for the 2013-2014 school year.

Boys’ swimming came in as the 10th most popular sport among boys, by the number of participants, and girls’ swimming came in at 8th by number of participants.

The boys’ and girls’ top 10 remained unchanged for any sports, though volleyball did make a big move to approach basketball among girls.

The full report has not yet been released, but the NFHS reported a highlight that 7,795,658 students participated in the NFHS’ 51 member state high school associations, which is an increase of 82.081. That’s a new record-high for participation in the United States.

The top 10 sports for boys and girls are below:


  1. Football
  2. Track & Field
  3. Basketball
  4. Baseball
  5. Soccer
  6. Wrestling
  7. Cross Country
  8. Tennis
  9. Golf
  10. Swimming and Diving


  1. Track & Field
  2. Basketball
  3. Volleyball
  4. Soccer
  5. Fast-Pitch Softball
  6. Cross Country
  7. Tennis
  8. Swimming and Diving
  9. Competitive Spirit Squads
  10. Lacrosse

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Isn’t it really just a nice way of saying it’s the least participated-in major sport at most high schools? A shame really – I suspect intimidation about being in the water holds a lot of people back. It’s also a hard sport to participate in when you are not “good at it”. It’s one thing being on a team that isn’t that great…at least you are with friends. Another thing getting swum down by some age group phenom getting ready to lap you in a 100.


Guess it depends what you define as “major sport.” Swimming is ahead of both volleyball and lacrosse for boys.


Well, as suppose I define major by number of high schools that offer the sport as an option. In CA at least, lacrosse is pretty rare at the high school level. Boys volleyball is played, but not commonly by small schools.


At least we’re ahead of lacrosse and cheerleading. Anyway, these figures are probably skewed because many schools don’t have swimming due to a lack of facilities. The one I don’t understand is golf, which is ranked just above swimming for the boys. How many people are on a high school golf team? Does anyone know how this is possible?


Probably because many schools still have better access to a golf course than A pool, which is sad. Pools are more expensive than renting time and clubs at a golf course I guess. Maybe part of the puzzle why USA isn’t even more dominant in swimming than it is.

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder of He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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