Planning to Swim in College?


This information is intended to help BCST swimmers prepare for college level swimming. 


The BCST coaches can work closely and assist any BCST high school swimmer during the college decision-making process, recruiting, and scholarship opportunities. All you have to do is let the coach know of your interest in college swimming.


First, HS swimmers must register with the NCAA by the end of their Junior year, or they will not be eligible for Div. I or II university recruitment. Because NCAA recruiting rules have changed, it is recommended that swimmers register by the end of their sophomore year. All university coaches will first ask if you have registered. If not, they cannot talk with you.


There is often a misconception in the college search process that if you are not actively recruited or have not been offered a scholarship you must not be a good enough swimmer to swim in college. That view is completely false. The fact is that most colleges just do not have the finances available to offer every good swimmer a scholarship. Another fact is that most colleges do not find out a student-athlete is interested in their program until that student has made "First Contact."

Many families assume that colleges are going to call them first. The reality is that most collegiate swimming programs do not have the manpower to search for athletes. Most coaches rely on meet results from large meets such as Sectionals or Nationals, prospective student questionnaires (usually available on a college swim teams website), and through professional recruiters (not sports agents) to whom a student-athlete pays a fee to have them send information to schools about them. There are also some websites available through which a student-athlete can also make information about them self available to college coaches.

With the scholarship limits that are imposed by the NCAA, most college coaches are going to be looking at a student’s academic ability. The vast majority of swimming student athletes receive financial aid through academic related scholarships, grants and student loans, not through athletic scholarships.

 National Letter of Intent:  The National Letter of Intent is administered by the Collegiate Commissioners Association (not the NCAA). When you sign the National Letter of Intent you agree to attend the institution with which you signed for one academic year in exchange for the institution awarding financial aid, including athletics aid, for one academic year.


Athletic Scholarship: An athletic scholarship is a one-year contract between you and a Division I or Division II institution. Division III schools do not offer athletic scholarships. A school can reduce or cancel a scholarship if you become ineligible for competition, fraudulently misrepresent yourself, quit the team or engage in serious misconduct. During the contract year, a coach cannot reduce or cancel your scholarship on the basis of your athletic ability, performance, or injury. An institution may choose to not renew a scholarship at the end of the academic term provided they notify you in writing and provide you an opportunity for a hearing.

Remember a coach cannot offer you a "four year full-ride scholarship." They do not exist. Each student athlete award is reviewed annually. It is important to ask current collegiate swimmers if they are still on scholarship. Parents, it is not uncommon for some college programs to offer and renew an athletic scholarship for the first 2-3 years of college and then ask the student to pay full tuition for the remainder of their college career.


There are many factors to consider when determining which colleges and potential swim programs are appropriate for each high school athlete. Consider this high-level timeline when planning a high school student athlete's academic, standardized testing and college recruiting options.

Helpful Articles and Information

College Search Sites

College Swimming Planning Resources

General College, Scholarship, and Financial Aid Information

ACT, SAT, PSAT National Merit Scholar Testing

Achievement Testing Study and Preparation Links