USA Swimming Surpasses 400,000 Members in Record Year

USA Swimming eclipsed more than 400,000 members and saw its largest year-round athlete membership growth in the organization’s history. To date, USA Swimming has a combined membership of 404,448 athlete and non-athlete members.

Membership numbers for the 2012-2013 year, which ran from Sept. 1, 2012 to Aug. 31, 2013, were released today, and show a 13.2 percent increase in year-round athlete membership growth, bringing the total to 340,564. This is the largest single-year spike in USA Swimming history.

The 13.2 percent increase significantly outpaced other post-Olympic growth. Previously, the largest single-year membership gain was in 2009 at 11.3 percent. In 2005, it expanded by 7.2 percent and membership in 2001 increased by 4.9 percent.

Chuck Weilgus, USA Swimming Executive Director

Chuck Wielgus, USA Swimming Executive Director

“The continuous growth and strong retention rate of swimming across the country helps build the foundation of our wonderful sport,” said Chuck Wielgus, USA Swimming Executive Director. “As the base continues to build, it funnels into our goals of promoting the sport and achieving competitive success. We are thrilled by the success of our U.S. Swim Team in London and that so many more people are enjoying the life-long sport of swimming.”

The 2012 Olympic Games was one of the most successful Games for the U.S. Olympic swim team.  The team dominated the water, earning 31 medals – 16 gold, nine silver and six bronze – nearly 30 percent of the total medals earned by all American Olympians in London. The team was led by gold-medal performances of Michael Phelps, Missy Franklin, Nathan Adrian, Ryan Lochte, Allison Schmitt and Dana Vollmer, and a total of 11 American records and five world records were set in London.

The end of the four-year quad surrounding the 2012 Olympics also brings to a close the most successful quad for year-round athlete membership. There was a 19.0 percent increase in total number of athletes stretching from 2010-13. During the four-year span, USA Swimming gained more than 54,000 athletes.

In addition to increased membership numbers, USA Swimming now has more year-round clubs than ever before, with a total of 2,915 year-round member clubs. The organization also renewed all of its corporate partners, surpassed 150,000 downloads on its official mobile app Deck Pass, and currently in the early stages of its industry wide SwimToday campaign.

About USA Swimming

As the National Governing Body for the sport of swimming in the United States, USA Swimming is a 300,000-member service organization that promotes the culture of swimming by creating opportunities for swimmers and coaches of all backgrounds to participate and advance in the sport through clubs, events and education. Our membership is comprised of swimmers from the age group level to the Olympic Team, as well as coaches and volunteers. USA Swimming is responsible for selecting and training teams for international competition including the Olympic Games, and strives to serve the sport through its core objectives: Build the base, Promote the sport, Achieve competitive success. For more information, visit www.usaswimming.org.

This unedited release was provided to swimswam by USA Swimming.

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cynthia curran
8 years ago

That’s a surprise years ago in California seem that there were less all round summer teams than AAU. Also, in California a lot of year-round water polo players did some age group swimming and switched to the water polo only except for swim season in high school.. Probably about 70 to 80 percent of high school swimmers did some age group or summer league, you have to know at least freestyle or breaststroke to try out for a high school team.

Jiggs
8 years ago

For me Matt Biondi, Mel Stewart, Pablo Morales and Gary Hall Jr., Esq. made swimming cool. Just sayin’.

What are the benefits for members?

Coach
8 years ago

Chuck Wielgus
“Show Me the Money” Rod Tidwell

John Smith
8 years ago

How does one compare this recent increase in enrollment in USA Swimming to the enrollment in other sports this past year and the general increase in the US population at large?

Is the sport of Swimming actually enrolling proportionately more athletes than expected and compared to other sports?

Are we pulling talent from the Big 3 and Soccer finally…. or is this an illusion?

Local meets in Colorado seem like the total enrollment of younger age group boys compared to the number of age group girls is lagging.

newswim
Reply to  John Smith
8 years ago

US population growth rate is 1% so USA swimming is growing in real terms. Don’t know the numbers for other sports so can’t comment re is swimming growth part of overall upward trend in sports participation or the result of more effective outreach.
Re gender in swimming. What you see in Colorado is not unusual HOWEVER the gender breakdown changes as the athletes age. In New England, for example, we see nearly twice as many girls at 11-12 versus boys but by Age 15+ it 55/45 girls/ boys. Unfortunately this is largely due to the much higher drop out rate for older age group girls as compared to boys. I do see more “late comer” boys here than girls… Read more »

whoknows
Reply to  newswim
8 years ago

USA Swimming Member services puts out a “Membership Demographics” report annually… the 2012 report can be found at
http://www.usaswimming.org/_Rainbow/Documents/ceb07df5-c623-49a9-ad4c-dc331707b3a4/Statistics-2012.pdf
It looks as the 2013 report will be out after the first of the year as the report goes through December.

PAC12BACKER
8 years ago

And they still want a membership rate increase…? Flow it back into the clubs and pay the National team members a higher stipend instead of lining USA Swimming executive pockets.

jman
8 years ago

Why is Phelps getting credit? USA Swimming doesn’t give him any credit. Other than being a great swimmer and winning a lot of medals what has he done to grow the sport? He essentially says that swim training sucks and he is tired of it. That comes through loud and clear from him. He is really in the prime of his life physically. He likes to hang with other pro athletes and they train and compete well into their 30’s and sometimes their 40’s. I think he has his $ and doesn’t really care about the sport any more. I don’t get it

jman
Reply to  Gold Medal Mel Stewart
8 years ago

Mel, as i said he won medals and that was great for the sport. But tell me what else beyond that has he done to attract members to USA Swimming? I doubt getting paid to be on TV shows has any influence.I can tell you that our club had a significant bounce last year and this year and all the kids talk about is Lochte, Schmitt, Franklin, Coughlin. Now there are your ambassadors for the sport that reach out to kids and have actually done so directly for USA Swimming.

Devan
Reply to  jman
8 years ago

He grew the sport by becoming the best the world has ever seen, and by making it clear from the beginning that swimming is the best sport on earth. He brought fame to the sport, and did “make it cool” to be a swimmer as Mel mentioned above.

MissingTheGoat
Reply to  jman
8 years ago

It’s hard to compete with all the different options that youth today have and in my opinion for swimming to get the type of recognition that it does in the US requires someone dominating in multiple events. The specialists certainly draw interest from those who know swimming, but the casual fan in America isn’t going to tune into watch swimming unless there’s someone with a chance to win 6,7, or 8 individual golds.

Phelps raised the level of interest by going after Spitz record of 7 golds in Sydney and maintained that level for the next two Olympics. Before that you didn’t much interest in swimming other than in an Olympic year and you certainly didn’t have the Grad Prix’s… Read more »

whoknows
8 years ago

The numbers are not the total number of participants in swimming… It is the number of individuals registered under the “USA Swimming” banner. You have YMCA, YWCA, AAU (25K), etc. organizations which also have numbers. Summer leagues amount to many more athletes – they do not have a central organization nationally to get numbers.

morrow3
Reply to  Gold Medal Mel Stewart
8 years ago

Mel- That can duplicate swimmer numbers. For example – on PASA we have 5 summer league teams and one City pool that combine to make PASA. Not all the kids on summer league, swim year round. And not all the kids on PASA participate in summer league.

whoknows
Reply to  whoknows
8 years ago

Here is an interesting breakdown on demographics of youth sports (It’s one of many studies that have been done)

http://espn.go.com/espn/story/_/id/9469252/hidden-demographics-youth-sports-espn-magazine

Anonymous
8 years ago

For some reason I just always assumed there were at least a million kids in the us swimming. As a comparison, wonder what other sport participations are..? Soccer, baseball, basketball, football?

Admin
Reply to  Anonymous
8 years ago

Anonymous – don’t forget that this is just USA Swimming’s membership. It would be hard to imagine that the number of competitive swimmers if significantly larger, between summer league and high school only swimmrs.

newswim
Reply to  Braden Keith
8 years ago

302,169 high school swimmers according to the NFHS 2012-13 participation survey. There is some overlap with USA swimming but my impression is the majority are high school only.
I do believe Mel’s number that between Y and Rec League there are 2 million kids that participate in organized seasonal swim competition.
I also saw somewhere that in Australia the number of athletes in “high level” swim competition was about 50% of that of USA membership. That number may have changed given the recent growth in USA swimming due to the “Phelps” effect

About Gold Medal Mel Stewart

Gold Medal Mel Stewart

MEL STEWART Jr., aka Gold Medal Mel, won three Olympic medals at the 1992 Olympic Games. Mel's best event was the 200 butterfly. He is a former World, American, and NCAA Record holder in the 200 butterfly. As a writer/producer and sports columnist, Mel has contributed to Yahoo Sports, Universal Sports, …

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