4 Pointers for Finding Your Future Family, A Recruit’s Guide

arizona-women's-team-NCAA-2015
Photo Courtesy: Emma Schoettmer

July 1 : It is the iconic day for any young swimmer starting the recruiting process. It is also the day to begin the elimination process of finding the school that is right for you. I know that the process itself is exciting. Getting the chance to travel across the country, meeting new people, seeing new styles of coaching; the chance to taste what is yet to come.

It doesn’t always work out the first time around, hence the ability to transfer, so don’t worry too much about the “what ifs.” Instead use these ideas to help you carefully choose the school that is right for you.

arizona-team-2013

Photo Courtesy: Briana Wilford

1. Choosing your Future Family

Recruiting is just a fancy way of describing the process of choosing your new family. Yes, I did say family, because the team you choose will be just that. In essence, the team is going to be filling the shoes of your family you will be leaving behind once you set foot on campus. They are going to be the people you wake up with at “o’dark early” every morning. They are going to be the people you live with, the people you hang out with on weekends, and the people you train with. They will be there with you when you swim your best and your worst, they are going to be your best friends. By the end, you won’t be able to remember a time when you lived without them.

arizona-women's-team-2014

Photo Courtesy: Emma Schoettmer

It is important when you do pick a school that you interact with the team hosting you. Talk to them; ask them questions. Even embarrassing ones that have nothing to do with swimming, because chances are, randomness will be more memorable and connecting than the same old swimming statistics you hear everywhere. And make sure you talk to the other recruits, because you may end up finding your future roommate during your trip.

2. Connecting with the Coaches

Much like the team, the coaches are going to be there with everything you do that has anything to do with swimming. They are like your adoptive parents, mentors you can look to when you struggle (although most schools will also have specialists for specific purposes if you may need outside help). Get to know the coaches outside the pool, and not just how they think on deck. Make yourself comfortable around them.

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Photo Courtesy: Brandy Maben

During my recruiting stage, I spent most of my time on the phone talking about anything but swimming. That let me open up to the coaches and build relationships that last even after the process is over. It opens more doors than you can imagine and keeps you connected, not only to your new school, but also to others in case the first time doesn’t work out like you hoped.

3. Academics

You are signing yourself up for college swimming to become a student-athlete. The purpose of college is academics and building a future outside of the pool; whether it’s four years or ten years down the road, everyone is expected to graduate with a degree (hopefully with a major that interests you).

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Photo Courtesy: Eve Sarris

Make sure to research the schools you are looking into. Look at their websites, search majors and degrees and try to find something that can spike your interest. You don’t necessarily need to have a major declared once you arrive for a visit or when you walk on campus as a student, but finding a school that offers a variety of options or areas you may be interested in is important.

And remember, not every school is going to have academic superiority that Ivy Leagues or Stanford ooze to the world, but many schools can still have prestigious academic opportunities that are just waiting to be discovered. Don’t write off a school just because they aren’t ranked in the top five academically. Yes, academics are important, and will give you a future away from the water. Find a school that offers what you want or what you can work with along with a team you love and coaches you can work with.

4. Have Fun!

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Photo Courtesy: Emma Schoettmer

Recruiting is fun, so make the most of your visits. Experience what the schools have to offer and the activities organized because they will be the memories you remember when you look back on your recruiting days. Just remember where your priorities are when choosing a school, because some schools place too much fun over swimming or school. Yes, too much fun will happen everywhere, it has been happening since forever, however, it doesn’t have to be your determining factor when choosing a school.

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Photo Courtesy: Briana Wilford

Final thoughts

When I was being recruited, I wasn’t sure if I would remember everything from each trip I went on by the end. So, one way to help is making a pros and cons list after each visit.

What did you like? What was memorable? Did they have a major you like? Do you like the team? How about the coaches? Simple comments on these questions, whether they are good or bad, can help you determine which school is right for you.  Also, document your time.  Take pictures of campus and the team.