Naval Academy Aquatic Club

18 & Under World 100s
Maryland Swimming
Level 4
Excellence 300

Swimming in College

Only eight percent of club swimmers go on to swim in college, and that's a shame. College athletes often find the transition to college easier, stay healthier during college, form lasting relationships, and are able to use their athletic contacts and experiences to forge opportunities after graduation. NAAC swimmers are more likely to participate in college swimming in some form and have reaped the benefits. How do you find the college swimming experience that is right for you?

Types of Colleges

courtesy of Alexis Keto, Head Coach Colorado Athletic Club
  from: Club Coaches and the College Process


Division 1- “the big division”

  • Minimums – sectional finals or above, preferably NCSA Junior Nationals
  • Mid-Major (CAA, AAC, WAC) vs. Big Five(ACC, SEC, Big 10, Big 12, Pac 12)
  • Separate National Championships, sometimes separate conference champs

Division 2 – “Growing division”

  • -Minimums – sectional level or above, although girls can be slightly slower
  • Can be state or private schools, and usually range dramatically in size
  • Combined National Championships, includes the 1000 free

Division 3 – “no athletic scholarships”

  • -Minimums – Zone level swimmers, sectional and above will get an extra look
  • Usually smaller liberal arts, academic schools with limited athletic budgets, but not always
  • Combined National Championships, with cuts usually falling near D1 B standards

NAIA – “Division 2 – Version 2.0”

  • wide range of ability – great for the late bloomer with some State cuts
  • Looser academic requirements than the NCAA
  • Separate Eligibility Center
  • Combined championships – usually cuts around the faster Sectional standard

NJCAA – “Training Wheels”

  • also a great first step for late bloomers or swimmers academic issues
  • 2 year degree program allows for easy transition into NCAA programs
  • Combined championships – relatively easy time standards for participation

Club Swim Teams – “fun swimming”

  • Great for any level of swimmer as well as any commitment level
  • No recruiting needed, just contact the club president, similar to Masters
  • Yearly championship in Atlanta, occasionally some training trips

 

Getting Started

When should you start the college search? It is never too early! The classes you chose and the grades you get from the first day of high school until graduation will count to college recruiters. Swim coaches will want to know your best times, but they will also want to know your SAT or ACT scores, your grades, and other intangibles like your leadership skills and practice habits. They want to recruit swimmers who will be happy and successful student athletes. Begin no later than your junior year. Remember that you will need to narrow your search and that takes time. 

  • Start by answering the following questions:
  1. What do you want to study?  A major that is offered in a handful of schools will limit your choices. Some majors require travel. Is your major compatible with swimming at your prospective school
  2. What type of school are you looking for? in-state or out of state? Large, medium or small? Urban, suburban or rural? Faith-based? Single gender or combined for the school or the swim team? Do you want to practice year-round, school year, or just seasonal? 
  3. What part will finances play in your decision? It's time to have a serious discussion with your parents about what you can afford.
  4. What is the school's median GPA? SAT or ACT scores? Where would your times rank on the team? There is nothing wrong with reaching high for a school, but you need to apply to a range of schools to be on the safe side. 
  5. Create your swimming resume. 

 


The Parents' Role in the College Search

Student athletes will need help if they are to navigate the time-consuming and emotional job of choosing a college and swim program successfully. Orinda Aquatics shares this list of Dos and Don'ts to guide parents through this difficult process

Helpful Things For Parents To Do:

  • Ask your child if they would like you to help them by being their personal assistant in the process.
  • It is important to Be Realistic (academically, athletically, financially and socially) when establishing criteria and discussing potential colleges with your student.
  • Focus on the fun and positive aspects of the college recruiting process.
  • Help or do the Organization of Personal Files: transcripts, top times reports, standardized test scores, job descriptions, awards and honors, activities, community service, etc.
  • Help your swimmer develop their sports resume and cover letter. Edit but not censor.
  • Discuss college and team criteria with your swimmer (lists follow).
  • Abandon all preconceived ideas of where your child will attend college. Be open!
  • Assist with the leg work. Print out conference and individual team results. Research majors and schools. Set up a filing system.
  • Network with collegiate “swim parents”. Gather information.
  • Help your child develop a list of at least ten schools that potentially fit academically and athletically.
  • Become your child’s Administrative Assistant: fill out and submit questionnaires, develop a timeline for the college application process, tickle your child to write monthly updates to coaches
  • Help your child formulate questions to ask college coaches during campus visits
  • Visit college campuses with your student and ask insightful questions of them afterwards (but refrain from giving your own opinions!). Plan as many unofficial visits to a variety of different kinds of campuses (rural, urban, suburban, small, medium, large, etc) and programs (Division) as possible during your child’s sophomore and junior year in high school. This helps define their criteria both academically, socially and athletically
  • Negotiate the whole arena of financial aid by requesting a preliminary read in admissions, filling out the forms in a timely manner and being realistic as to whether or not the school will be affordable given the financial aid package offered. Do not be offset by a private school’s “ticket price” as most provide packages/grants are commensurate  with your current financial situation.  Be forthright with your child in regards to any financial constraints you may have in regards to paying for a college education.
  • KEEP THINGS POSITIVE

 

Things Parents Shouldn’t Do:

  • Start the process too late as this greatly limits your swimmer’s options and opportunities to be invited on recruit trips (the best way to visit a team) and/or being recruited for a team. You will risk ending up making a rushed and perhaps uninformed decision
  • When meeting with coaches, don’t answer the questions yourself
  • Don’t respond to emails and calls left by college coaches, however, you should encourage your child to respond in a very timely manner. Email is used more than any other form of communication in recruiting. Although it is tempting to make sure that responses are “grammatically correct”, parents should encourage the final draft to come from their child and to sound like their child. Your child needs to be themself.
  • When coaches call your home, refrain from staying on the line. The coaches want to talk to the prospective recruits. Sometimes an assistant coach will just call to chat and get to know the swimmer as person. The coaches will call you if they want to talk to you.
  • Don’t pressure your child to perform better (either athletically or academically) for college recruiting purposes. This is unhealthy and usually counterproductive.
  • Parental calls and emails to coaches during the recruiting process should be kept to a minimum. The “tough” questions should be strategically timed. The first priority is for your child to develop relationships with teams and colleges. Cultivate these relationships first or you may jeopardize their chances.
  • Overstate your child’s true athletic and academic ability

In summary, be your child’s teammate in this process and concentrate on what is right for your child. Listen to them. If he wants to explore lots of different activities in college, then perhaps Div 1 is not the right place to start. This can be a wonderful empowering opportunity for your child and a collaborative experience for all of you.

Links


Resources

Ncaa.org – Eligibility Center

Naia.org – Separate registration from NCAA

CollegeSwimming.com

 

Articles

5 Tips for High School Swimmers to Get Recruited from Swim Swam