Recreation Management Rec Report - The Newsletter for Recreation, Sports & Fitness Facility Managers

Feature Story

August 2020

USA Swimming Waives Swim-a-Thon Fees Through 2021

In late April, as the dramatic impact of COVID-19 on aquatic facilities across the country became clearer, USA Swimming unveiled a strategic recovery plan for clubs that highlighted many of the programs, benefits and services implemented during the COVID-19 crisis. One of these benefits was a removal of the required 5% contribution to the USA Swimming Foundation for teams that completed a Swim-a-Thon. The fee waiver is in place through 2021.

Because of this waiver, teams that host a Swim-a-Thon through 2021 will keep all of the funds raised during their event. Swim-a-Thons are in-pool fundraisers that where participants earn money by swimming lengths of the pool. Participants generally ask their family, friends, neighbors or businesses to pledge money per length, or make a flat donation to support the team.

Since 2008, more than 1,000 swim teams across the country have raised more than $72 million. The funds have been employed for myriad uses, including purchasing training equipment and pool time, and providing coach salaries. Individual athletes who participate in Swim-a-Thons can also earn prizes from the YSA Swimming Foundation. What’s more, teams are entered into the Swim-a-Thon contest, which gives them the opportunity to win even more prizes. (This year’s prize is a visit from this year’s Swim-a-Thon ambassador, Olympic gold medalist Kelsi Dahlia.)

“Now more than ever, we know the funds raised through Swim-a-Thon are integral to clubs and membership everywhere,” said Scott Usher, director of development for USA Swimming in a press release. “We hope by waiving the required 5% fee and delivering a full menu of fundraising resources and prizes allows teams to have success in their efforts.”

Many swim teams have gotten creative in their fundraising efforts as COVID-19 shut down aquatic facilities across the country.

“Pool closures due to COVID-19 struck in the middle of our Swim-a-Thon fundraising efforts,” said Abby Jansen of Barracuda Aquatics Team in El Paso, Texas. Many of Barracuda’s team members come from military families that may be relocated, making it impossible to simply reschedule the Swim-a-Thon.

“In order to pay it forward for our incoming swimmers and keep our team going strong into the fall season, we adapted the Swim-a-Thon into a ‘Sprint-a-Thon,’ keeping the same principals, just on land,” she added.

Swimmers in the program took 25/50-yard sprints or the long-distance equivalent of a 5K. Parents took pictures and posted them to the team’s Facebook page.

“The Sprint-a-Thong was more than just a team effort, with many younger siblings and parents joining in on the fun to run with the swimmers,” Jansen explained. “With everyone stuck at home, this event turned out to be a great way to get everyone out of the house and moving—even if it’s not in the water for now.”

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