The Qualities College Teams Look For in Recruits

11/14/15 - Kalamazoo, MI: Kalamazoo College Swimming and Diving vs Albion. Kalamazoo College Women defeated Albion 187-112. Albion College Men won 201-99. © Chris McGuire Photography.
Photo Courtesy: Andy Ringgold/Aringo

Swimmers are constantly trying to impress college coaches with their performances to increase their chances of being recruited. Coaches make the final decision, but the impression recruits have on the team is just as important. While a coach and team desire similar qualities in the athletes, it is important for recruits to acknowledge how they come across to their potential future team. Check out some of these common qualities that a typical college team looks for in a recruit.

High Interest

How does the recruit act around the team and coach during their recruiting trip? Are they genuinely interested in attending that school and learning about the program? It is understandable that not every college or recruiting trip will be a perfect fit, but there has to be an effort to try and picture yourself at that school.

Asking questions and staying engaged is crucial. As nerve-racking as some recruiting trips can be, there’s always time to ask questions in a small-group setting or with the whole team. Even after the trip has ended and you still have questions, do not hesitate to ask. Of course you want all your questions answered before making any big decisions. Reaching out to members on the team through text or direct message is one way of demonstrating that you are interested.

Staying engaged throughout the recruit trip activities also sends a positive message. Whether the team and recruits are bonding through a card game or a game of ultimate Frisbee, it’s always fun to see how recruits can show their competitive spirit outside of the water. It is also important to make an effort to try and engage with each person on the team; if you do end up going to that school, it would be nice to have a foundation of relationships already formed.

Sometimes it can be hard for recruits to stay off their phones during a recruiting trip. Phones buzzing with messages from parents constantly asking how things are going or wanting to Snapchat all the cool things you’re doing to your friends back home can be overwhelming. While communicating with family and friends is important, finding the right time shows a lot of respect. It can be hard for the team to get to know you if you are always on your phone. Just be in the moment, as these could potentially be your future teammates.



Photo Courtesy: Missouri State Athletics

Is the recruit capable of demonstrating leadership skills and have the potential to lead the team? Teams want individuals who are not afraid of taking on the challenge of leading others and inspiring the team to achieve their goals.

Every team member can be a leader, whether that is leading by example or being a team captain. Teams need leaders to motivate each other, guide the team towards success, and stay focused on achieving greatness. Experience as a leader and active leadership on a club team will better prepare you for the college swimming environment.



Photo Courtesy: Eric Bugby

Will the recruit be able to contribute to the academic aspect of the team? Teams want individuals who care about the team GPA, who will elevate the team study ethic and will remain academically eligible.

It often helps when recruits know what they want to study or have narrowed down their interests for their future. The team can inform a recruit about classes within a specific major, which is another way to start building relationships with the team through shared interests.

Open mind

How will the recruit respond in a completely new environment with new teammates and a different training style than they are used to? Teams want new teammates who are open to different ways of achieving success.

This can only happen if recruits are willing to learn and try new things. College teams are most successful when all the team members buy into the program across the board; this includes team values, expectations in the classroom and training.

Each college team has its own unique program for finding the best fit. The transition from club swimming to college swimming can be overwhelming in terms of being in a new environment with new teammates. Teams want individuals who are able to keep an open mind, trust the coaches and team, and embrace each aspect of the team’s program.


Is the recruit a well-rounded individual who will contribute to the team both in and out of the water? College teams want a balanced variety of swimming strengths, personalities, backgrounds and passions.

The coach and team look at the qualities that each recruit can bring to their program, which include a variety of aspects: race performance with a combination of other things like team support, positive attitude, academic success. College teams of course want someone who will score points in dual meets, conference, and at NCAAs. Knowing what it takes to score at these meets shows a recruit’s true passion for the sport.

College teams desire future teammates who they want to train and race with everyday on the path to success.Teams desire an individual that will put the team first and has goals that will better the team as a whole. They also want someone whose actions, both in and out of the water, will reflect the teams values and reputation.

All commentaries are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Swimming World Magazine nor its staff.

Notify of

Welcome to our community. We invite you to join our discussion. Our community guidelines are simple: be respectful and constructive, keep on topic, and support your fellow commenters. Commenting signifies that you agree to our Terms of Use

Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Christos Constantinides

Raphaelle Blaser

Don Lou
3 years ago

Austin Toland – here you go

Dave Johnson
3 years ago

Bill Wadley makes an appearance in this article! ?

Bill Wadley
3 years ago
Reply to  Dave Johnson

Dave Johnson too funny

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x