6 R’s of Recruiting: A Rising Senior’s Checklist for July

Wisconsin Generic Team
Photo Courtesy: Wisconsin Athletics

By Nicole Cassou, Swimming World College Intern

The road to college swimming is a long and arduous one, and July 1 (or July 15 for Division II schools) is an important benchmark in that journey. It’s the day that Division I coaches can start calling recruits to express their interest, and hopefully schedule recruiting trips for these prospects in the fall.

The hardest part is over– you’ve put in all those grueling hours in the pool, but there is still work to be done. Taking these six steps before receiving those calls will keep you one step ahead in the process you’ve been waiting so long for.

1. Research

Mike Litzinger University of North Carolina Swimming and Diving v Clemson Koury Natatorium Chapel Hill, NC Monday, January 16, 2012

Photo Courtesy: Jeffrey Camarati/North Carolina Athletics

The coaches you’ve been in contact with prior to July 1 have certainly done their research on you, now it’s time for you to take an even closer look at them, their programs, and most importantly, the colleges they represent.

Your Swimming Community

The swimming world is a small one. Start with more personal sources that will go beyond the information the university website provides you. Start by asking your coach, swim parents on your club team, and alumni swimmers from your club about anything they’ve heard about the school and swim program you’re looking at.

Chances are, they, or someone they know has a connection. Hearing experiences from people who have been recruited by these schools, or swam for them can give you a foundation for your research. However, keep in mind that just because someone has a good or bad experience there doesn’t mean that you will.


  1. Does this school have the majors or minors I’m most interested in?
  2. Is this school known for having better programs in certain academic disciplines?
  3. What are the admission standards like for this school? For example if you’re looking into the Ivy League, you would want to have some preliminary knowledge about the Academic Index (A.I.).
  4. Are there certain prerequisites such as an SAT subject test that would be required for admission?
  5. When would this school require that I declare my major? If you’re completely unsure about what you want to study, and want to graduate in four years this could be a crucial one.
  6. What kind of financial aid is available at the school? Could you qualify for aid or an academic scholarship?

Student Life

  1. Does this school have student groups that would connect you to people who share a passion for something that’s important to you? This could be religious groups, political organizations, community service groups, etc.
  2. What are the university policies like regarding alcohol and smoking? Do they offer housing for students who wish to be a part of a “dry” dorm?
  3. What services does the school provide you in gaining internships, career advice, and job opportunities?
  4. Would you choose this school if you weren’t a swimmer?


  1. Has the team recently changed conferences?
  2. How does the team perform at their conference meet?
  3. What has the team’s dual meet schedule been like in past years? Are they competing outside of their conference to get better competition?
  4. Is the majority of the roster scoring at their conference meet?
  5. Have other sports teams been getting cut in recent years?
  6. Has there been frequent turnover of coaches?

Finding the answers to these questions will help guide you to ask more in-depth ones to the coaches that call you. Coaches will appreciate that you’ve done your research on the things you can find out on your own. Not only does having this preliminary knowledge demonstrate your interest, it also ensures you get the most complete picture of each school, which will make it easier to choose which select few you want to take official trips to.

2. Rank

University of Hawaii Swimming and Diving Pool

Photo Courtesy: Dan Worden

Based on your research, try to rank which schools you’re most interested in. This can help you decide which schools you want to prioritize taking official trips to. Also consider if it would be beneficial to take unofficial visits to schools you’re uncertain about. You must decide this as soon as possible so that you can give the coach enough time to plan.

However, it is key to keep an open mind. If another school contacts you and piques your interest, or a coach from a place lower on your list persuades you, don’t hold your list as gospel. It is also important to the note that more often than not, this list will change dramatically once you go on official visits.

3. Rebrand

Photo Courtesy: Denver Hilltoppers

Photo Courtesy: Denver Hilltoppers

The recruiting process is about selling yourself. You are your own brand, and marketing that to coaches is what will give you an edge in the recruiting process. Before receiving calls, compile a list based on these questions that will help you rebrand yourself into a recruit extraordinaire.

  1. What has your swimming progression been like? Have you been improving a lot recently? Have you overcome injuries that have caused you to plateau in a particular season?
  2. Have you done weight training before? College coaches often value a lack of experience in lifting as an extra performance booster once you enter their program.
  3. Have you been making technique changes that have helped you maximize your training and versatility? Coaches are all about how many events you can score in.
  4. What has your academic performance been like? Beyond your GPA and test scores, tell the coach about your work ethic in the classroom. Are you passionate about particular subjects? Having a definitive academic profile will impress coaches and demonstrate that you’ll be a serious student.
  5. What are you involved in outside of swimming and your schoolwork? Telling coaches about other leadership roles can show how you could have a positive influence on their team culture.

4. Be Realistic


Photo Courtesy: Pixabay

Have an honest talk with your parents or guardians about your financial situation. Finding out how much money they would be willing to spend early on can help you ask scholarship questions, narrow your search, and avoid stress and disappointment. Another point to discuss is whether they would support you if you plan on taking out student loans.

5. Role-play

Apr 16, 2015; Mesa, AZ, USA; Michael Phelps looks at his iPhone as he receives a massage before the Men's 100 meter butterfly final during the 2015 Arena Pro Swim Series at the Skyline Aquatic Center. Mandatory Credit: Rob Schumacher/Arizona Republic via USA TODAY Sports

Photo Courtesy: Arizona Republic-USA TODAY Sport

Do you have a hard time carrying a meaningful conversation on the phone? Many individuals in this generation are becoming increasingly reliant on texting. It may sound strange, but role-playing a conversation with a coach, parent, sibling, or friend could help ease your stress and make your phone calls flow better. You want to be engaging and exude confidence when talking with a coach. Awkward pauses and not having prepared points of discussion won’t allow you to get the most out of the conversation.

6. Relax

Elizabeth Pelton relaxes prior to her event.

Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Chances are, when July 1 rolls around all of your teammates in your class will be talking non-stop about the number of calls they received and how they went. Don’t compare your number of calls to those your teammates received. Looking at July 1 alone isn’t indicative of how the rest of your recruiting process will go.

It’s quite possible that certain coaches have something personal going on that day. Many of us forget that coaches have lives outside of swimming too (what? no way!). They could also be at a meet with their team, or running a swim camp. In other cases, coaches view the July 1 date as nothing more than a recruiting rule, not a do-or-die deadline.

If you’re still waiting to hear from schools you were expecting calls from, it’s time to be proactive. Reach out to them directly and remind them of your interest. Most of the time coaches will be very honest with you about your chances of becoming a part of their team.

If you aren’t satisfied with their responses, don’t panic. It’s still early on, and there is always room to cast a wider net in your college search. You can’t always expect coaches to reach out to you. Just because a coach didn’t seek you out, doesn’t mean that they won’t have scholarship money for you, or a spot on their roster. This is an exciting time in your swimming career, so take a deep breath, relax, and enjoy it.


  1. Helen Hite

    Well written Nicole… And I love that they used a Wisconsin photo!!!