July 14, 2014
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- In a nationwide survey conducted by USA Swimming and Speedo, Ann Arbor has been declared as the Best Swim City in America, the organizations jointly announced on Monday (July 14).
The city claimed the highest aggregate score in categories such as percentage of active swimmers and swim clubs, number of accessible pools and the volume of top-level swimmers from the area. Ann Arbor beat out other swimming-rich cities like San Jose/Santa Clara (second), Raleigh-Durham (third), Austin (eighth) and Los Angeles/Orange County (ninth) for the top honor.
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 Master's swimmers and number of USA swimming clubs. The study also looked at the number of qualifying swimmers for high level competitions like the Speedo Champions Series, 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.
"One of the biggest reasons that swimming is so valued in this community is because we aspire to have a strong work ethic," said Michigan head swimming coach Mike Bottom
. "Education, creativity and discipline are all taught in this sport. It's not just here at Michigan and it's not just within our post-graduate group. Going all the way down to the recreational levels in this area, there's an understanding of the value that this sport brings."
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.
In comments made to USA Swimming, former Michigan head swimming coach Jon Urbanchek added: "It's no surprise that Ann Arbor is the top swim city in America considering the strength of the swimming community and how many great swimmers and world record holders have come out of that area. I lived and coached in Ann Arbor for 30 years and I can't think of a better place for swimming."
At the heart of Ann Arbor are the tradition-rich swimming and diving programs at the University of Michigan. The men's swimming and diving team is arguably the most successful program in the country, winning 12 national team titles (most of any team) and 165 individual or relay titles (most of any team in any sport in NCAA D-I history). The men also won seven unofficial national titles prior to the NCAA officially sanctioning the sport in 1937 and have claimed 38 Big Ten team titles, including the last four (2011-14). The women's swimming and diving team has long been the standard bearer in the Big Ten, with 14 team titles, including 12 in a row from 1987-1998, and 179 individual conference titles -- nearly 70 more than the next closest (Minnesota with 112). On the national scene, U-M boasts 11 individual NCAA titles and nearly won the 1995 team crown with its second-place finish. A fixture at the NCAA Championships, the women have scored top-10 finishes in 14 of the last 27 seasons.
Internationally, U-M has sent over 60 men's and women's swimmers to the Olympics, with those athletes combining to win 74 medals (33 gold). Those swimmers with multiple medals to their names include Gustavo Borges (four), Peter Vanderkaay (four) and Tom Dolan (three). Seven swimmers represented Michigan at the 2012 Olympics in London, including Vanderkaay, who won bronze in the 400-meter freestyle; Tyler Clary, who won gold in the 200-meter backstroke; and Charlie Houchin and Davis Tarwater, who both won golds as part of the 4x200-meter freestyle relay. Additionally, of the 19 former student-athletes and coaches inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame, nine are swimmers, including 2014 inductee Tom Malchow.
In its release, USA Swimming commented that swimming participation grew 16 percent in Michigan, further validating the sport's significant impact within the community.
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