We may not be the biggest community in Western Washington
considering who our next door neighbors are — I’m looking at you
Seattle and Tacoma — but we did something else those two cities
didn’t do this week.
The Bremerton/Silverdale area made the Top 20 of USA
Swimming/SpeedoUSA’s Top Swim Cities on Wednesday.
Bremerton/Silverdale is ranked 17th overall for
all cities with a population of 150,000-249,999. (Check out
the graphic on the left. That’s us in the corner!! OK, OK,
maybe it’s Seattle but I like to think it’s
“It’s amazing,” said Olympic Aquatic Club coach Patrick
Hamilton, “it’s good to get recognized.”
The top city in the smaller category is Columbia, Missouri. It
was ranked first based on its high percentage of USA Swimming
members, top USA Swimming athletes and large number of fitness
Hamilton said Kitsap has a strong swimming community — from
parents to officials to volunteers — who make the meets work year
“I know our team, Olympic Aquatic Club, we host five meets a
year which is a lot of work,” he said, adding volunteer parents
typically spend 40-50 hours during the three day meets.
“It’s just a wholesome sport and the community has embraced it,”
The top swim cities showcase what’s great about the sport of
swimming, said Matt Farrell, chief marketing officer of USA
Swimming in a news release.
“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,” he said.
Bremerton YMCA head coach Marilyn Grindrod said swimming is
beneficial no matter if you compete at an elite level or
“It’s a sport for life,” she said.
Bremerton-Silverdale club teams include Bremerton Family YMCA,
Haselwood Family YMCA Silverdale and Olympic Aquatic Club. Kitsap’s
club teams also include Poulsbo Piranhas, Puget Sound Swim Club,
Bainbridge Island Swim Team, Bangor Swim Team, and reaching a
little further out on the peninsula, Port Angeles and Port Townsend
We just missed the cut off for populations with 244,000 or
greater, which would have placed Bremerton/Silverdale 13th in the
larger category, the Top 50. Seattle is ranked No. 21 in the larger
category, with Anchorage, Alaska, coming in at No. 19.
No other Pacific Northwest cities made the list.
Ann Arbor, Michigan, was once again ranked No. 1 for the second
year in the larger category, followed by Durham, North Carolina;
Austin, Texas; Madison, Wisconsin; Raleigh-Cary, North Carolina;
Fort Collins, Colorado; Washington, D.C.; and
Ann Arbor repeated as best swim city, due in part to having the
largest percentage of top USA Swimming athletes per population —
more than 60 Olympians have come from the University of Michigan’s
swim program and area club teams, said USA Swimming. San Jose-Santa
Clara is at No. 2.
Each city is ranked based on an aggregate score in categories
including the percentage of active swimmers and swim clubs, the
number of accessible pools (Bremerton/Silverdale has three) and
volume of top-level swimmers from the area. It also took into
account the number of USA Swimming members, number of U.S. Masters
(adult) swimmers, and the number of USA Swimming clubs.
California, with five cities in the top 17, and Colorado (four
in the top 16) were the highest-ranking states. Cities in the top
50 had populations of 250,000 or more.
It’s pretty cool that Bremerton/Silverdale can lay claim to not
only national champions, but also high school state champions,
age-group champions, masters champions, and, of course, three
Olympians in Bremerton’s Tara and Dana Kirk (2004 Olympics) and
Nathan Adrian (2008, 2012). If we’re to include Bainbridge
Island, then Emily Silver (2012) makes it four from Kitsap.
“We’ve had some amazing athletes moving up the chain,” Grindrod
said. “When those kids were learning to swim they had a passion.
They were smart and their parents knew something special about
Speaking of Adrian, the San Francisco-Oakland area moved up to
No. 3, which is where he resides and trains with California’s
post-grad group that includes fellow Olympic champions Anthony Ervin and Natalie
Coughlin. It’s also home to 10 percent of the country’s U.S.
Masters swimmers, more than any other city.
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