COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado, September 10. THE year after the Olympics is always the time when USA Swimming’s membership department is busiest. The number of applications the organization gets for new athletes increases after the Olympic Games, and USA Swimming is reporting its largest spike in membership ever for the 2012-2013 season.
The national federation now has more than 400,000 members, which consists of athletes and non-athletes, with a 13.2 increase in the number of year-round athletes. As of the end of the 2012-2013 season, 340,564 year-round athletes were a part of USA Swimming.
The numbers are high, and denotes the organization’s biggest membership increase in a post-Olympic year. After the 2008 Olympics, where Michael Phelps won eight gold medals, USA Swimming’s athlete membership increased by 11.3 percent, whereas the increase following the 2004 Olympics was just 7.2 percent.
“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.”
USA Swimming is also touting a successful increase in membership in the four years leading up to the London Olympics, with a 19 percent increase in membership during that time.
While the numbers are encouraging, it does not count the high school-only athletes, or those who solely compete in YMCA and summer league meets. And it trumps U.S. Masters Swimming, with nearly 60,000 swimmers that range from fitness to competitive levels as part of the organization.