HS Swimming & Diving Sees Highest Participation Increase Since 2008

After two consecutive seasons of declined growth, high school swimming & diving saw it’s largest participation increase in eight years in 2016-17.

In the post-Olympic year, total participation increased 2.98% to 309,161 from 300,217 in 2015-16. The increase is the largest since 2008-09, when the total number of participants increased a whopping 11.57%, up to 289,060 from 259,093, after watching Michael Phelps win eight gold medals in Beijing.

The post-Olympic increase has become a trend, as the third highest increase over the last eight years came post-London 2012 when numbers went up 2.68%.

All data comes via the NFHS (National Federation of State High School Associations), the governing body of high school sports in the United States.

Year-by-Year Growth Rates (Boys & Girls Combined)

Year Total Participants
Participant Growth
2008-2009 289,060 11.57%
2009-2010 289,795 0.25%
2010-2011 294,781 1.72%
2011-2012 294,279 -0.17%
2012-2013 302,169 2.68%
2013-2014 304,152 0.66%
2014-2015 303,295 -0.28%
2015-2016 300,217 -1.02%
2016-2017 309,161 2.98%

Year-by-Year Growth Rates (Boys)

 

Boys Schools Participants Schools Growth
Participants Growth
2009-2010 6820 131,376
2010-2011 6899 133,900 1.16% 1.92%
2011-2012 7001 133,823 1.48% -0.06%
2012-2013 7001 138,177 0.00% 3.25%
2013-2014 7101 138,373 1.43% 0.14%
2014-2015 7156 137,087 0.77% -0.93%
2015-2016 7220 133,470 0.89% -2.64%
2016-2017 7342 138,364 1.69% 3.67%

For boys specifically, the increase in number of schools offering high school swimming & diving and the number of athletes participating saw their largest increase since 2008-09, improving from 133,470 in 2015-16 to 138,364. That number just misses the all-time high of 138,373 set in 2013-14.

The number of schools offering boys swimming & diving has seen a steady increase, with last season’s total of 7342 being the highest ever by over 100.

Year-by-Year Growth Rates (Girls)

Girls Schools Participants Schools Growth
Participants Growth
2009-2010 7171 158,419
2010-2011 7164 160,881 -0.10% 1.55%
2011-2012 7221 160,456 0.80% -0.26%
2012-2013 7249 163,992 0.39% 2.20%
2013-2014 7429 165,779 2.48% 1.09%
2014-2015 7526 166,838 1.31% 0.64%
2015-2016 7559 166,747 0.44% -0.05%
2016-2017 7721 170,797 2.14% 2.43%

Girls’ swimming & diving also had their biggest increases over the last eight years in participants (2.43%), and their second highest in schools (2.14%). Number of participants hit an all-time high by nearly 4000 with 170,797, as did number of schools at 7721.

Total Participation – Boys

By Schools By Participants
1 Basketball 18,214 1 Football – 11-Player 1,057,407
2 Track & Field – Outdoor 16,699 2 Track & Field – Outdoor 600,136
3 Baseball 15,979 3 Basketball 550,305
4 Cross Country 15,087 4 Baseball 491,790
5 Football – 11 player 14,099 5 Soccer 450,234
6 Golf 1h3,223 6 Cross Country 266,271
7 Soccer 12,188 7 Wrestling 244,804
8 Wrestling 10,629 8 Tennis 158,171
9 Tennis 9,725 9 Golf 141,466
10 Swimming & Diving 7,342 10 Swimming & Diving 138,364

Total Participation – Girls

By Schools By Participants
1 Basketball 17,934 1 Track and Field – Outdoor 494,477
2 Track & Field – outdoor 16,658 2 Volleyball 444,779
3 Volleyball 15,992 3 Basketball 430,368
4 Softball – Fat Pitch 15,440 4 Soccer 388,339
5 Cross Country 14,880 5 Softball – Fast PItch 367,405
6 Soccer 11,823 6 Cross Country 226,039
7 Tennis 10,121 7 Tennis 187,519
8 Golf 10,076 8 Swimming & Diving 170,797
9 Swimming & Diving 7,721 9 Competitive Spirit Squads 144,243
10 Competitive Spirit Squads 6,541 10 Lacrosse 93,473

Overall, girls’ swimming & diving has the 8th highest number of participants and 9th highest number of schools offering it, while boys sit 10th in both. That is the same position all four categories have been in since the 1991-92 season, when girls were ranked 8th in both.

Basketball is offered in the highest number of schools for both boys and girls, while outdoor track and field (girls) and 11-player football (boys) lead for total participants.

In terms of state participation, California leads with 21,467 male and 29,722 female participants in swimming & diving across 883 and 915 schools respectively. Texas sits 2nd in both, and Pennsylvania was the only other state to crack 10,000 participants for either boys or girls, with 10,110 girls compared to just 4,572 boys.

Note: Tennessee is not included in the data, as it is not sanctioned by the NFHS.

Check out the NFHS Participation Statistics for yourself here.

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13 Comments on "HS Swimming & Diving Sees Highest Participation Increase Since 2008"

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Sal the Swimming Guy

Canton McKinley High School – The Hub of the Universe

Mark Rauterkus

Guess. Is that Canton McKinley HS in the photo?

Nathan Smith

Imagine how many more schools would carry swimming if it didn’t require cost prohibitive aquatics facilities? This is why I’m proposing we switch to air swimming.

Straightswimming

I live in Austin,Texas and I’m a swimmer as well and 3/6 schools in our district share a pool at nitro swimming

BaldingEagle

…and it looks like there’s even one more pool, now that Waterloo has their own tank.

cynthia curran

In Tucson, they have 2 high school teams per rec pool which is not bad.

#pool4ourschool

That is for practice only. There is no diving at these private facilities nor are they able to host meets with the limited spectator seating.

cynthiacurran

Where is Florida the third largest state that even has a good community college team. PA is a much smaller state than Florida.

cynthiacurran

Just removed.

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About James Sutherland

James Sutherland

James is currently a university swimmer for the Laurentian Voyageurs, where he is studying economics. Along with swimming, he also loves hockey. He's in his 11th season as a competitive swimmer.

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