Participation in High School Swimming Grows for 2nd-Straight Year

The National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) has released the results of their annual membership participation survey, and participation in swimming and diving has risen* for at the 2nd-straight year, with a significant increase in the number of teams driving that growth.

*Editor’s note: because the NFHS participation data is done based on surveys sent to individual schools and districts, the numbers are not official and therefore there can be survey errors, though those stand out the most in the less-universal sports. Not every high school is a member of the NFHS, though the vast-majority are.

In total, the survey reported 314,529 participants in swimming & diving among NFHS membership, a 1.74% increase from last year (after a post-Olympic 2.98% bump a year prior). The survey reported 253 new boys’ teams and 240 new girls’ teams.

A lot of the growth comes from California, which is already the state with the most teams and participants in the sport (by more-than-double). Schools in the state reported 62 new girls’ programs and 1,439 more girls participating, with 65 more boys’ programs and 1,405 more boys participating.

Swimming remains the 10th-most popular sport for boys in the survey and 8th-most popular for girls. Basketball had the most programs for both boys and girls, with football (1.05 million) the most popular participation sport for boys and outdoor track & field (494.477) the most popular participation sport for girls.

Overall participation in athletics continues to grow, for the 29th-straight year, in spite of a decline in participation in high school football – the most popular high school sport in the country.

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

TOTAL 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%
2017-2018 314,529 1.74%

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%
2017-2018 7595 138935 3.45% 0.41%

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%
2017-2018 7961 175594 3.11% 2.81%

 

Other Aquatic Disciplines:

  • Synchronized Swimming saw a small uptick in programs (30 vs. 29) and participants (597 vs. 592) for girls, with boys numbers (3 teams, 35 participants) reporting back exactly the same. All of the reporting boys’ teams were in Ohio, while Michigan and Minnesota also supported girls’ teams.
  • Water polo saw 838 boys’ teams with 22,501 participants in 2017-2018, and 844 girls’ teams with 21,054 participants. Those are increases in both columns: from 822/21,286 in boys a year earlier, and 831/20,826 from girls a year earlier.
  • Water polo is one of the sports where there are known survey deficiencies. For example, Texas doesn’t report any high school water polo teams, even though the sport has a large participation base among high schools in the state. The gap comes from the University Interscholastic League (UIL), which is the official governing body for most high school sports in the state, not sanctioning the sport.

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City4nil

2nd straight lol

anonymous

The funny thing when I was in high school girl’s didn’t have track and field you had to participate on the boys team.

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder of SwimSwam.com. 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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