50 Top Swim Cities, Presented by Speedo

Ann Arbor, Michigan, is the best swim city in America for the second consecutive year, according to a second-annual study commissioned byUSA Swimming and leading swimwear company Speedo USA.  San Jose-Santa Clara repeated as runner-up and San Francisco-Oakland climbed two spots to give the Bay Area the second and third positions.

Rounding out the top 10 in the 50 Top Swim Cities, Presented by Speedo, were Durham, North Carolina; Austin, Texas; Madison, Wisconsin; Raleigh-Cary, North Carolina; Fort Collins, Colorado; Washington, D.C.; and Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, Connecticut. 

Ann Arbor’s stronghold as the best swim city in America can be attributed, in part, to having the largest percentage of top USA Swimming athletes per population. More than 60 Olympians, including 2012 Olympic champion Tyler Clary and fellow gold medalist Tom Dolan, have emerged from University of Michigan’s swim program and respective USA Swimming clubs. With the second highest number of pool facilities per population of any city in the country, swimming is highly accessible to its residents.

"People love swimming in Ann Arbor and the community rallies around the sport. This honor is also a testament to the University of Michigan swim program and how it has inspired the entire city of Ann Arbor to get in the water,” said Clary, a Team Speedo athlete. “The combination of Club Wolverine, the University, city residents and Club Wolverine Swim Camp as one of the most successful swim camps in the country, is evidence of why the Ann Arbor swim community is so great."

California (five cities in the top 17 spots) and Colorado (four in the top 16) were the highest-ranking states. 

Washington, D.C., moved into the top 10 for the first time and numerous other cities broke into the top 50 this year. Honolulu, Hawaii, had the largest jump at 77 spots, moving from 126 in 2014 to 49 this year, and Nashville, Tennessee, gained 64 spots from 102 to 38. The biggest movers within the top 50 were Tucson, Arizona, which climbed from 42 to 20 and Tallahassee, Florida, which moved up 15 spots from 27 to 12, nearly cracking the top 10.  

“The top swim cities showcase what’s great about the sport of swimming, from strong community involvement to accessibility and Olympic champions,” 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, 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. 

In cities with a population of 150,000-249,999, Columbia, Missouri, ranked first as a result of its high percentage of USA Swimming members, top USA Swimming athletes and large number of fitness swimmers.

“We have seen a trend of more people getting in the water each year, and we hope this annual study will continue to inspire swimmers of all ages and levels across the country,” said Jim Gerson, President of Speedo USA. “Speedo products enable everyone to dive in and tap the power of the water for fitness - whether you’re a competitive swimmer, an elite athlete or someone who just likes to work out.”

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

  • San Jose-Santa Clara: A major contender for the top swim city, San Jose-Santa Clara boasts the largest multicultural make-up of swimmers of any region in the country. The Santa Clara Swim Club has produced 51 Olympic gold medals, 17 silver, and 12 bronze during its proud history. Swimming legends Mark Spitz and Donna de Varona grew up in the area. 
  • San Francisco-Oakland: Home to 10 percent of the country’s U.S. Masters Swimmers, more than any other city across the country, including Olympic Gold Medalists Natalie Coughlin and Nathan Adrian, among many others.
  • Durham: One in 10 Durham residents report they swim for fitness, making swimming one of the most popular fitness activities in the community.
  • Austin: The city has the eighth highest number of top USA Swimming athletes in the country, despite ranking 40th in population size. A number of Olympic champions, including Brendan Hansen, call Austin home. Nitro Swimming is the seven-time Texas Age Group Champion.
  • Madison: With 24 pools in the area, Madison has double the amount of swimming facilities among other cities of its size.
  • Raleigh-Cary: A large number of U.S. Masters swimmers, USA Swimming members, fitness swimmers and top USA Swimmers live in the area. Raleigh is also home to N.C. State, where Olympic Gold Medalist Cullen Jones attended college.
  • Fort Collins: One of four Colorado cities represented in the top 16 Swim Cities this year, ranking above Boulder, Colorado Springs and Denver. The city has a large number of USA Swimming members, clubs and top-performing swimmers relative to its population.
  • Washington, D.C.: Washington, D.C. is a strong addition to the top 10 with 15,000 USA Swimming members, the fourth highest number in the country. There are 122 swim facilities inside the Beltway, sixth-best, and one of the most robust summer league programs nationwide. Nation’s Capital Swim Club topped the USA Swimming Club Excellence program in 2015.
  • Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk: The area hosts 24 swim clubs, the most of any area with a population below 1 million people.
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, number of U.S. Masters (adult) swimmers and number of USA Swimming clubs. 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 numbers 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. This is a change from the 2014 rankings when athletes counted toward their active club.

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 in partnership with SRi and Sports Marketing Surveys, the official research provider to the Sports & Fitness Industry Association.


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