Competitive swimming in the US started in 1880 but really took off in the 1920’s and 30’s as public pools became more commonplace.
High schools may offer swim teams or you can join local clubs that provide top-level competition. High schools can offer freshman, junior varsity, and varsity teams that practice all year-round.
Junior colleges are a great choice if you are still honing your swimming skills. Student-athletes can engage in top competition and later transfer to a 2-year or 4-year college or university team.
Around 550 colleges and universities offer Division 1, 2, and 3 programs to talented swimmer student-athletes. Teams compete in intercollegiate swim meets and conference championships. Coaches may be looking for athletes who are specialized in a specific event or who are good all-rounders, depending on what the team needs. Swimming has a longer competition season than most sports, starting in September and ending in March.
Many college athletes go on to represent their countries in the Olympics. In fact, there were 13 student-athletes competing in the 2016 Olympic Games!