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The Turnstile

Ann Arbor tops USA Swimming's top 50 swimming cities in the country

Jay Busbee
The Turnstile

Combine the influence of Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte with demonstrable health and social benefits, and the result is that competitive swimming has exploded in popularity across the United States. 

USA Swimming, the sport's governing entity, has released a study breaking down exactly where swimming holds the most sway. The cities most favorable to swimmers don't follow any geographic pattern, stretching from sea to sea and north to south. Metrics include the number of swimmers, swim clubs, and accessible pools, as well as the number of standout swimmers springing from each locale. The winner? Ann Arbor, Michigan.

“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 the area,” says former University of Michigan swimming coach, Jon Urbancheck. “I lived and coached in Ann Arbor for thirty years, and I can’t think of a better place for swimming.”

Ann Arbor has produced more than 60 Olympians, including Tyler Clary and Tom Dolan, and participation in swimming programs grew by 16 percent in just the last year.

Right behind Ann Arbor is the San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara region of California, home to Mark Spitz and Donna De Varona; the area claims the most USA Swimming members per 1,000 residents. The Bridgeport, Connecticut area and the San Francisco area owe their high rankings (fourth and fifth, respectively) to the two ends of the swim spectrum: Bridgeport has a high rate of kids swimming, while San Francisco boasts the nation's largest senior-level swimming contingent.

The health benefits of swimming play a key role in the sport's growth on both the local and national level. Fort Collins, Colorado, ranked sixth, benefits from a health-conscious populace. “In our health-driven community, parents actively seek fun, healthy sports like swimming for their kids,” said Chris Webb, head coach of the Fort Collins Area Swim Team. “Area clubs have seen a 70 to 80 percent growth in the last two years. It’s amazing to see how swimming has captured our region and newcomers enjoy the numerous benefits the sport offers."

Here's the complete list:

1. Ann Arbor, MI
2. San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA
3. Raleigh-Durham, NC
4. Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, CT
5. San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont, CA
6. Fort Collins-Loveland, CO
7. Madison, WI
8. Austin-Round Rock, TX
9. Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana, CA
10. Indianapolis-Carmel, IN
11. Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV
12. San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles, CA
13. Boulder, CO
14. Trenton-Ewing, NJ
15. Colorado Springs, CO
16. Anchorage, AK
17. Minneapolis-St Paul, MN
18. Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown, TX
19. Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta, GA
20. Santa Barbara-Santa Maria, CA
21. Lexington-Fayette, KY
22. Lincoln, NE
23. Richmond, VA
24. Denver-Aurora, CO
25. Charlotte-Gastonia-Concord, NC-SC
26. Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA
27. Tallahassee, FL
28. Santa Rosa-Petaluma, CA
29. Davenport-Moline-Rock Island, IA-IL
30. Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, CA
31. Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis, WI
32. Omaha-Council Bluffs, NE-IA
33. Chicago-Naperville-Joliet, IL-IN-WI
34. Provo-Orem, UT
35. Reno-Sparks, NV
36. Portland-Vancouver-Beaverton, OR-WA
37. New Haven-Milford, CT
38. Albuquerque, NM
39. Columbus, OH
40. Baltimore-Towson, MD
41. Pittsburgh, PA
42. Tucson, AZ
43. Sacramento--Arden-Arcade--Roseville, CA
44. Cincinnati-Middletown, OH-KY-IN
45. Sarasota-Bradenton-Venice, FL
46. Poughkeepsie-Newburgh-Middletown, NY
47. Fort Wayne, IN
48. South Bend-Mishawaka, IN-MI
49. Rochester, NY
50. Salt Lake City, UT
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Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at jay.busbee@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter.

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