Santa Clara Leads USA Swimming’s 50 Top Swim Cities of 2016


USA Swimming has released it’s list of the top 50 swim cities in 2016, with the San Jose-Santa Clara metropolitan area earning the #1 rank according to a study commissioned by USA Swimming and Speedo. The Area is home to Team USA standout Maya DiRado, a 2016 Rio Olympic gold medalist, and the Santa Clara Swim Club, whose swimmers have won 80 total Olympic medals.

Santa Clara’s rise to the top of the rankings this year is attributable to it’s growth in new USA Swimming members for 2016. This year, 36% of the city’s USA Swimming membership were new members.

Ann Arbor, Michigan had previously held the #1 rank for back-to-back years, but wound up 2nd this time. Also ranking in the top 10 for the 3rd-straight year were Austin, San Francisco, Raleigh, Fort Collins, Bridgeport, and Madison.

Austin, the 4th ranked city this year, is a training base for several swimming stars, including the NCAA champion Texas Longhorns, and Olympic gold medalists Joseph Schooling, Townley Haas, Jack Conger, and Clark Smith.

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (September 15, 2016) – The San Jose-Santa Clara, Calif., area earned the No. 1 position as America’s Top Swim City for the first time ever, according to a third-annual study commissioned by USA Swimming and leading swimwear company Speedo USA. Two-time Top Swim City Ann Arbor, Mich., placed second, with the Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, Conn., area climbing seven spots from 2015 to claim the third position.


Rounding out the top 10 of the 50 Top Swim Cities, Presented by Speedo USA, were Austin, Texas; Madison, Wisc.; Washington, D.C.; Raleigh-Cary, N.C; Fort Collins-Loveland, Colo.; Indianapolis-Carmel, Ind.; and the San Francisco-Oakland, Calif., Bay Area.

“The swimming community is unlike any other, and I know that the support of my teammates and coaches, and the close bonds we developed during training, have inspired me to achieve at our sport’s highest level,” said four-time Olympic medalist and Team Speedo USA athlete Maya DiRado. “I understand firsthand the impact these swim cities have on individual swimmers – from elite athletes to those just beginning their competitive careers – and hope this survey and my USA teammates’ performances in Rio inspire more people to get in the water.”

San Jose-Santa Clara’s jump can be attributed in part to its large growth in new USA Swimming members in 2016. Long known as a swimming hotbed, the area saw 36 percent of its USA Swimming membership join for the first time this year. In addition, the area also holds the top spot for most USA Swimming members per 1,000 people, and the 64 pools in the San Jose-Santa Clara area make swimming more accessible for people to join a team.

Santa Clara Swim Club is one of the most successful swim teams nationwide, with its swimmers winning 80 Olympic medals, including 51 gold, 17 silver and 12 bronze, during its proud history. Swimming legends Mark Spitz and Donna de Varona also grew up in the area.

“It is a great honor for San Jose-Santa Clara to earn recognition as America’s Top Swim City. Aquatics has a deep history here, and the passion and commitment for aquatic sports is really a fabric of our community,” Santa Clara Swim Club Head Coach John Bitter said. “Our future is incredibly bright, including the new Haines International Swim Center, and our outstanding partnership with the city of Santa Clara will lead to more successes for America’s Top Swim City in the future.”

California (eight cities in the top 50 spots) and Colorado (four in the top 33) were the highest-ranking states.

Indianapolis moved up 10 places from 2015 to take the No. 9 spot this year and numerous other cities made their debut into the top 50. Roanoke, Va., had the biggest jump, moving up 49 spots to No. 45 on the list. Louisville, Ky., gained 42 spots to crack the top 50 at No. 48 for 2016, and Atlantic City, N.J., jumped 41 spots from 88 to 47.  Omaha, Neb., host city of the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team Trials – Swimming, also had a notable jump within the top 50, advancing 33 spots from 50 in 2015 to 17 this year.

“The top swim cities exemplifies all the qualities that make the sport of swimming great, with strong community involvement, ease of access and ability to grow the sport,” said Matt Farrell, Chief Marketing Officer for USA Swimming. “We want to invite people of all ages across the country to join the sport of swimming, and we hope this list inspires more kids and families to get involved.”

Each city’s ranking is based on an aggregate score in categories including percentage of active swimmers and swim clubs, swim team growth, number of accessible pools and volume of top-level swimmers from the area. Cities in the top 50 had an MSA population of 250,000 or higher.

“Speedo USA is committed to creating products that help all athletes achieve their goals in the water, and we are thrilled to see the impact these communities have in supporting that same mission,” said John Graham, Senior Vice President of Sales of Speedo USA. “From swimming competitively or for fitness, or taking vertical workouts to the pool, the results of this survey show that more people and cities are embracing the power of water.”

Other notable facts about the cities ranked 2-10 include:

  • Ann Arbor: The two-time Top Swim City is home to 60 Olympic swimmers, including Gold Medalists Tyler Clary and Tom Dolan, and hosts the highest percentage of top USA Swimming athletes per population.
  • Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk: The area holds the second-most number of USA Swimming clubs per population, a large community of swimmers and a high percentage of clubs recognized as Club Excellence teams.
  • Austin: The city has the second-highest percentage of new member growth and number of facilities. Austin is known for club swimming and its high number of swimmers for fitness.
  • Madison: With 28 pools in the area, Madison holds the highest number of facilities per population over any other city.
  • Washington, D.C.: Home to nearly 150 pools in the area, the nation’s capital has more than 13,000 USA Swimming members. Nation’s Capital Swim Club has been the highest-ranked in the Club Excellence program.
  • Raleigh: Ranks in the top 10 overall for total USA Swimming members, new membership growth, number of fitness swimmers and Olympic qualifiers. Raleigh is also home to N.C. State, where Olympic Gold Medalist Cullen Jones attended college.
  • Fort Collins: Scored very high in the number of USA Swimming members, clubs and top-performing swimmers relative to its population.
  • Indianapolis-Carmel: Thirty-one USA Swimming clubs call this city home, the most of any area below a population of 2 million people. Indianapolis is home to “The Nat,” swimming’s most notable facility, and the Carmel High School girls’ team has won a national record of 30 consecutive state titles.
  • San Francisco-Oakland: This city boasts the most fitness swimmers in the U.S., with more than 10 percent of its population participating. The area is also home to decorated Olympians Nathan Adrian and Natalie Coughlin.

The ranking index was developed through a comparison of each city’s swim-related attributes relative to the overall U.S. population. Key elements included the number of current USA Swimming members; new member growth; number of USA Swimming clubs and club excellence. The study also looked at the number of qualifying swimmers for high level competitions like the Speedo Sectionals, Speedo Junior Nationals, Phillips 66 National Swimming Championships, Olympic Trials and the Olympic Games; as well as Sports & Fitness Industry Association (SFIA) participation data, including the number of competitive and fitness swimmers, and the number of swim facilities open to the public in each city. USA Swimming National Team members were assigned to their hometown club, if different than their current association.

The complete list of the 50 Top Swim Cities can be found at: To find out more about swimming and access resources to locate a nearby swim club, go to:

The research study was commissioned by USA Swimming and Speedo USA in partnership with SRi and Sports Marketing Surveys, the official research provider to the Sports & Fitness Industry Association. Swim facilities data is provided by, the world-wide swimming pool directory website.

Team Speedo athletes on their hometown swimming communities:

  • No. 1 – San Jose-Santa Clara, Calif – Maya DiRado “The swimming community is unlike any other, and I know that the support of my teammates and coaches, and the close bonds we developed during training, have inspired me to achieve at our sport’s highest level,” said four-time Olympic medalist and Team Speedo USA athlete Maya DiRado. “I understand firsthand the impact these swim cities have on individual swimmers – from elite athletes to those just beginning their competitive careers – and hope this survey and my USA teammates’ performances in Rio inspire more people to get in the water.”
  • No. 7 – Raleigh-Cary, N.C. – Cullen Jones – “Swimming for N.C. State and training in the area after college has given me a true appreciation for North Carolina’s elite swimming community,” said four-time Olympic medalist and Team Speedo USA athlete Cullen Jones. “It’s important for all populations to understand the importance of learning to swim – and even better for them to take it up in competition or for fitness – and this survey reinforces how many fantastic places there are to get in the water.”
  • No. 8 – Fort Collins-Loveland, Colo. – Missy Franklin – “I have been swimming in Colorado since I was a little girl, throughout my career and again as I trained to compete in Rio this summer,” said six-time Olympic medalist and Team Speedo athlete Missy Franklin. “To see my home state make the top 10 in this year’s survey shows how incredibly supportive Colorado is of its swimmers. I’m thankful to have been a part of this amazing community for so many years.”
  • No. 10 – San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont, Calif. – Natalie Coughlin – “The Bay Area always been home, and the swimming community here has undoubtedly helped me develop a deep love for my sport,” said 12-time Olympic medalist and Team Speedo USA athlete Natalie Coughlin. “Growing up here, being supported by my neighbors and teammates, and coached and trained by some of the best in the nation, I was truly given the opportunity to achieve my goals. I’m proud to see San Francisco on this year’s Top Swim Cities list.”

Swimming news courtesy of USA Swimming.

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4 years ago

Yes the pools in SF are ok…. but, the congestion, dirt, cost of the city nullify the attraction of the pools.
Austin TX has fresh water spring fed 70 degree pools (yum fresh!) and Lake Travis with it’s 65 mile “lap lane”.

Ak swim
6 years ago

Anchorage is 18th. We have only a handful of pools open year round, all but 1 are kept at 85 degrees, and the last 2 high schools built don’t have pools so teams have to bus to practice every day at odd hours.

6 years ago

Interesting. I would point out that only tracks USA Swimming participation. In the area in which I live, Contra Costa County, there are over 6000 rec league swimmers. Yes, 6000, and I think I’m conservatively low with that number. The vast majority are not members of USA Swimming and thus, invisible in this survey

6 years ago

Missy Franklin swims for the Stars in Southeastern Suburban Denver which is not even near Ft. Collins. She falls under the #15 city on the list. It seems that there is a fair amount of reaching in this article.

6 years ago

Just FYI there are a lot of good teams in the San Jose area even though Santa Clara usually gets all the credit

Reply to  Sccoach
6 years ago

Should use number of age group swimmer as criteria. Should not use college team’s success as criteria.

6 years ago

Maya DiRado is from Santa Rosa, CA not Santa Clara as is her Olympic Teammate Molly Hanis.

Cynthia mae Curran
Reply to  Coach
6 years ago

Not that closed to San Francisco-Oakland, it the university of Berkeley only. Santa Clara is not far from Stanford, which is why they are in the ranking.

Cynthia mae Curran
Reply to  Cynthia mae Curran
6 years ago

I mean Santa Rosa is not that closed to San Francisco and Oakland. Berkeley is close.

About Lauren Neidigh

Lauren Neidigh

Lauren Neidigh is a former NCAA swimmer at the University of Arizona (2013-2015) and the University of Florida (2011-2013). While her college swimming career left a bit to be desired, her Snapchat chin selfies and hot takes on Twitter do not disappoint. She's also a high school graduate of The …

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