50 Top Swim Cities, Presented by Speedo

50 Top Swim Cities 2016  (large)

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, Michigan, 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 makes 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, Virginia, 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: www.usaswimming.org/50TopSwimCities. To find out more about swimming and access resources to locate a nearby swim club, go to: www.SwimToday.org. 

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 SwimmersGuide.com, the world-wide swimming pool directory website.

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