Top 10 Tips for College Swimming Recruiting

Photo Courtesy: Thomas Campbell/Texas A&M Athletics

By Abigail Sheridan, Swimming World College Intern. 

The college swimming recruiting process can be a complicated maze of websites, phone calls, emails, recruiting questionnaires, visits and so much more. It can be easy to get confused or frustrated because of the countless rules – written and unwritten – as well as all the options. However, using these 10 tips will help you find your way through it as easy as a 400 IM! All joking aside, understanding some of the ins and outs of recruiting can make a huge difference.

1. Start early enough.

time is ticking

Starting early is probably the most well-known tip about the recruiting process – but how early is early enough? Coaches must be able to get to know you and your swimming, so starting as early as possible gives you enough time to explore many different options and thoroughly research all of them. While it is a time consuming process, the time spent will absolutely pay off! Sophomore swims help to establish the kind of swimmer you are, while junior year swims prove your dedication and ability to improve. Senior year times can solidify a spot on the team, or even gain one. 

2. Official and unofficial campus visits are a must.

university_campus

Photo Courtesy: David McBee

Going on both official and unofficial visits can be a great way to understand the team dynamics, the facilities, the coach, and the school as a whole. Taking a tour or getting one from future teammates is essential to understanding the campus. Finally, going on a visit is also an awesome way to show your interest in a school. Many schools offer an overnight visit option or a recruiting weekend where potential swimmers can truly get to know the team before signing on.

3. Communication is key. 

communication

Photo Courtesy: Pixabay.com

Showing your interest and ability to positively contribute to a team is essential in gaining a coach’s interest. Coaches want to recruit swimmers, not parents! While it’s certainly positive for parents to show their interest, there is a difference between showing interest and taking over.

Another important aspect of communicating effectively is being prepared for conversations with a coach, whether that means having a prepared list of questions or a note card of your goals. Either way, being prepared is very important. Tom Groden, the head coach of Boston College, said: “I deal only with students who contact me first, and almost 95 percent of their first contacts are via email.” He explains the importance of proactive communication, as clearly just filling out a recruiting questionnaire would not be enough to reach his list of potential athletes. Finally, keeping a coach updated on recent times and questions about the process is also important.

4. Be selective and don’t overwhelm the coach.

jon-urbancek-dave-salo-

Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Being honest is essential, but that doesn’t mean you need to overshare. Every swimmer has a weakness, so if your butterfly times exemplify yours, it’s okay to exclude them when showing yourself as an attractive potential athlete. An example of overwhelming a coach would be emailing them about each of your two meets a week. It’s essential to keep coaches updated, but not every single day.

5. Be positive and show your work ethic.

hannah-stevens-smile-2017-phillips-66-nationals

Photo Courtesy: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Coaches look for athletes who work hard and strive to improve. Negativity greatly decreases the positive impacts that come with hard training. For this reason, it is important to show that you work hard and have a positive mentality toward swimming.

6. Look at the school as a whole.

college campus

Photo Courtesy: Pixabay.com

Looking at the school as a whole is essential not only because it is the place you will train but also study and pursue academic goals. If you suddenly can’t swim anymore, you need to be somewhere where you will still be happy. Alexa Kutch, a standout student-athlete at Drexel University says that making sure the school’s academics fit with your interests is really important. She recommends that “you look at all aspects of the school when getting recruited,” as there are so many pieces to the puzzle that make up each school.

Some important aspects that Kutch recommends considering are the following: the community of the school, the location, if you can see yourself going there, how the athletics department works, and if you can see yourself as part of the team. While this may seem like an overwhelming list, each aspect is very important when looking for a place to spend your college years.

7. Understand the NCAA’s divisions and their rules.

difference between divisions

Photo Courtesy: Abigail Sheridan

The National Collegiate Athletic Association has many complicated rules to ensure the amateur status of all athletes competing under its authority. The differences between the divisions are detailed above. For athletes to be eligible for recruitment, they must meet these academic requirements.  To understand the rules between coaches and prospective student-athletes, visit NCAA.org

8. Research the school and its programs.

Beyond normal research regarding average class size, acceptance rate, and other published statistics, it’s important to understand other things that can have an impact on your overall experience. It is truly worth trying to understand if the school is likely to cut funding for certain areas of study or athletics, if they perform well as a team, and if they have a high transfer rate. Learning about the school and their programs is especially important for swimmers looking at more specialized majors.

9. Research the team.

Dolphins become Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef at Upolu Cay

Photo Courtesy: Swimming Australia/Kate O’Callaghan

Learning about the team atmosphere can happen easily during a recruit trip, but there’s more to a team than how well they get along. Good things to research include their record over the past few years, their individual improvement trajectories, and how they perform at conference championships. Researching a team thoroughly is the best way to make sure they are the right fit for you.

10. Figure out what you want in a school before you start looking.

osu-team-

Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Given the vast number of schools with swimming and diving teams, it is important to narrow down your options. A great way to do that is to decide what kind of school you are interested in attending. Some questions to consider: Do you prefer the idea of a small school or big school? Do you want to be the fastest or have room to improve to be the fastest? What kind of team atmosphere are you looking for? Do you perform best academically when you feel like you are the smartest, or does that not affect your performance?


While the college swimming recruiting process can be difficult at first, these simple tips can help get you started on your search. Happy researching!

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


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    6 comments

    Author: Abigail Sheridan

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    Abigail Sheridan attended Parkland High School and will attend Siena College as a biology major in the honors program starting fall 2018. She fell in love with swimming at age 7 and can’t imagine her life without it. Abigail spends her free time reading, running, being with friends and thinking about swimming.

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