USA Swimming Announces Relay Incentive Program With $1 Million On The Line In Paris

USA Swimming announced a new relay incentive program on Tuesday that will give American athletes financial rewards for relay success at two upcoming major championship meets.

The new program, which will be focused on the seven relays contested at the Olympics (excluding the mixed 400 free relay which is only at Worlds), will see the entire U.S. team at both the 2023 World Aquatics Championships in Fukuoka, Japan and the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris earn bonus money if the U.S. sweeps the seven relays, or a lesser amount if they win in a medal in all seven.

Relay Events Part of Incentive Program

  • Women’s and Men’s 4×100 medley relays
  •  Women’s and Men’s 4×100 freestyle relays
  •  Women’s and Men’s 4×200 freestyle relays
  •  Mixed 4×100 medley relay

At the upcoming World Championships in Fukuoka, $500,000 will be split among all pool and open water team members if the U.S. wins all seven relays, while the prize pool will be $150,000 if they reach the podium (but don’t win) all seven.

The incentive will see a significant boost for Paris 2024, as $1 million will be split among all pool and open water team members if the U.S. sweeps the relays, and $250,000 if they win a medal.

2023 World Championships Bonus Money

  • Sweep the seven Olympic relays – $500,000
  • Win a medal in the seven Olympic relays – $150,000

2024 Olympics Bonus Money

  • Sweep the seven Olympic relays – $1,000,000
  • Win a medal in the seven Olympic relays – $250,000

“This is an unprecedented incentive program with the ultimate goal of extraordinary relay success,” USA Swimming National Team Managing Director Lindsay Mintenko said.

“While many might see swimming as an individual sport, we at USA Swimming know that a team focus is the very core of our success. We have a proud tradition in Olympic and World Championship relays, and we hope to foster that culture and camaraderie in the next wave of athletes.”

If this program was in place for the 2022 World Championships, the U.S. athletes would’ve earned the $150,000 bonus, having won five gold medals along with a silver in the men’s 400 medley relay and a bronze in the women’s 400 free relay.

At Tokyo 2020, the U.S. won just two of the seven relays and failed to reach the podium in both the men’s 800 free relay and the mixed 400 medley relay.


  • Men’s 400 free relay – Gold
  • Men’s 800 free relay – Gold
  • Men’s 400 medley relay – Silver
  • Women’s 400 free relay – Bronze
  • Women’s 800 free relay – Gold
  • Women’s 400 medley relay – Gold
  • Mixed 400 medley relay – Gold


  • Men’s 400 free relay – Gold
  • Men’s 800 free relay – 4th
  • Men’s 400 medley relay – Gold
  • Women’s 400 free relay – Bronze
  • Women’s 800 free relay – Silver
  • Women’s 400 medley relay – Silver
  • Mixed 400 medley relay – 5th

For the Tokyo Olympic Games, the U.S. team featured a total of 53 swimmers, meaning that, if the bonus was on the line and they won it that year, each athlete would’ve received approximately $18,867.

The 2022 World Championships had 49 athletes across pool and open water representing the U.S., meaning the $500,000 prize purse for a relay sweep would’ve resulted in roughly $10,200 per athlete.

The $150,000 bonus, which the team would’ve gotten based on their performance if the program was in place, would’ve resulted in roughly $3,061 per athlete.

The last time the U.S. swept the relays at the Olympics came on home soil in Atlanta in 1996, while at the World Championships, the last time came back in 1978, prior to the women’s 800 free relay being on the program.

To qualify for a relay at the 2024 Olympic Games, federations will earn an automatic spot if they finish in the top three of the event at the 2023 World Championships. For nations finishing outside of the top three, they must post a top-13 time among competing federations in combined results from the 2023 Fukuoka meet and the 2024 World Aquatics Championships (Doha, Qatar) to earn a spot in Paris.

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1 year ago

Imagine winning 6 golds and someone dq’s the 7th

Locker room beat down

Beginner Swimmer at 25
1 year ago

Just split $142,857 to each member of a gold medal squad and $71,428 to a medal winning squad

1 year ago

Why not take the $ million and divide it for the whole team. Having the payout based on relays is almost a sure win for the donor. It has been a long time since a sweep happened. Swimmers go for it on the relays and to see that USA Swimming
somehow doesn’t understand that is pitiful. Plus, now if a relay person has a not fabulous swim it’s one thing but “screwing up” with cash at stake…not good

Reply to  Swimgrl
1 year ago

4×100 for females and medley I have Australia as favourites especially the 4×100 free the US ladies need to b able to break 53 sec more regularly they will need Simone on this team too

Reply to  Shueib
1 year ago

I have Australia for 4×100 but not the medley because US seems to have more depth especially on breaststroke and Lilly King also looks good on the pro swim a few weeks ago and the only thing they need to improve is the freestyle and Weitzeil also looks good.

olympic enjoyer
Reply to  Lisa
1 year ago

also even if Weitzeil doesn’t pan out Curzan and Huske swimming or splitting 52.’s are also encouraging

Reply to  olympic enjoyer
1 year ago

Yeah and Curzan is really good and her split on all relay in freestyle last year is on high 52 which is good for the team.

Last edited 1 year ago by Lisa
Level Up
Reply to  Lisa
1 year ago

Who’s splitting 51’s?

Hooked on Chlorine
1 year ago

Well, that’s a whole bunch of cash that’s gonna go largely unspent. The good news is I get one million bucks per down vote.

1 year ago

I feel like this is money donated by a sponsor/benefactor that they specified for this type of thing.

I can’t believe that anyone at USA Swimming thinks that there is a need for any more incentive other than the honor of representing the USA at that level.

I have never heard from a national team member that didn’t feel that being on these relays was not one of if not their greatest honor. They treasure the wins and agonize over the losses.

I think the team goal of 7 wins or 7 medals is great but I think that is always the plan. Making that public maybe is a way to ratchet up the intensity a bit? I don’t think… Read more »

1 year ago

Even for those from an affluent background, nobody is going to say no to some extra $$$ ! Having said that, I can’t say that I agree with the prize pool including ALL pool and open water swimmers. The bonus relates solely to relay results so therefore be restricted to those who participated on a relay.

Will they have to fork out the big ones ?? Barring mishaps, its a reasonable bet that all 7 Olympic relays SHOULD medal at both Fukuoka and Paris. How I read these relays at this point:

Should win (but some may be very close): M4X100, M4XMED (tight one), WMXMED (another potential close one) & MMR (always a lottery but they should have strongest hand).… Read more »

1 year ago

I wish these incentives were per athlete, per relay. All relay athletes eligible or finals only relay members eligible.

Make individuals too like podium/gold in 400/800/1500 FR, 2x IMs + any stroke, 50/100/200 FR, 100/200/400 FR…

4 x relay golds at the freaking Olympics should have the potential to be a multi-million dollar bonus.

We’re told the money isn’t there, but uh… it’s down there somewhere. Just let me take another look…

1 year ago

Well the larger bonus dollars are out, but they may possibly medal in every relay. Will be interesting to see if they can. Seems like a strange incentive overall. Pretty sure they are all doing their very best anyway.

Last edited 1 year ago by Joel
Reply to  Joel
1 year ago

They should split the money between anyone that participated in a relay not open water or non relay swimmers

About James Sutherland

James Sutherland

James swam five years at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, specializing in the 200 free, back and IM. He finished up his collegiate swimming career in 2018, graduating with a bachelor's degree in economics. In 2019 he completed his graduate degree in sports journalism. Prior to going to Laurentian, James swam …

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