Attn High School Swimmers,


If you are thinking about swimming in college after your High School or Club swimming career I want to point out a few different resources and considerations that you should begin to be aware of.  First and foremost, which type of school you should look at.  There are various choices that can be made, all with varying levels of commitment and scholarship levels that can play into how your college swimming experience may look.


Division 1 Schools

There are approx. 143 men’s and 200 women's D1 schools.  Swimming at a Division 1 college means you are competing for a spot against the best swimmers in the country.  Competition is very high and the workload unmatched by any other division.  To swim for a D1 school you will need to find out what it will take to make the team in each event and what it would take to put you in a potential scholarship situation.


Division 2 Schools

There are approx. 58 men’s and 77 women's D2 schools.  D2 times are very similar to that of a D1 school but the workload balance is a little lighter leaving more time for swimmers to experience other aspects of college (aka - having a social life :) or balancing academics.  Many D2 schools are smaller in size leading to a more individualized college experience.  To swim for a D2 school you should research the times needed for each event, how they are funded and what sort of academic support is offered.


Division 3 Schools

There are approx. 200 men’s and 242 women's D3 schools.  A D3 college experience can be a dream scenario for students looking to balance athletics with other hobbies, arts, and academics.  Scholarships are not available at this division level but many provide financial assistance through academic-related grants.  Many D3 swimmers receive financial aid so seeking a D3 roster spot can help off-set the cost of college.  Some D3 colleges are happy to have swimmers that were simply HS varsity swimmers while others are operating a low D1 level.


NAIA Colleges

NAIA colleges offer more freedom and a well-rounded college experience.  NAIA schools are generally on smaller campuses.  There are approx. 22 men’s and 31 women's programs in the US.  The difference between NAIA and D3 schools is that NAIA does offer scholarships and has a less stringent recruiting process - coaches can contact and recruit swimmers year-round for NAIA schools.


Junior Colleges

With 67 men’s and 21 women’s Junior colleges around the country, this can be a great option for swimmers looking to improve their times and grades in the hopes of attending a larger 4-yr college.  Junior colleges offer two-year programs and also offer the most scholarships over their college counterparts.   The NJCAA is the governing body of junior college athletics encourages athletes to use JUCO sports as a steppingstone in their athletic and academic careers.  Reaching out to a JUCO coach can be very valuable and could potentially land you a scholarship.


I hope this overview provided some value as you look ahead to post HS swimming.  Linked below you will also find a condensed version of the American College Connection Handbook written by Director of Swimming Rick Paine. This is a great resource to help get started in the search to find the right collegiate fit academically, socially, demographically as well as athletically.  You can also reach out to a few of our coaches that have swam collegiately in 2 different D1 schools, Calvin Greve at the University of Minnesota and Jared Thorson at the University of South Dakota.  Both Calvin and Jared would be happy to talk about their college swimming experience and answer any questions.


Each year, the process and preparation begins earlier and earlier, so the sooner you learn about the process, the better set up you will be for success. The American College Connection has a wealth of resources and can guide you through the entire process. Go to to sign up for a free Profile Assessment. 


You can also find a direct link to the NCSA (Next College Student Athlete) system within our Sharks Team Unify System (When logged in look under the My Account > College Recruitment)

American College Connection Handbook