College Swimming


The College Process

College Recruiting & Making Your Decision


What Are My Swimming Goals?

1.     Participation

2.     Level of Competition

3.     Ability to Contribute & Travel

What Are My Education Goals?

1.     Type of Education

2.     Level of Education (Bachelors, Masters, Law, Doctorate)

3.     What is the Priority (Swimming first? Education first? Balance?)

What Can I Afford?

1.     Am I eligible for financial aid?

2.     Can I get a scholarship?

Where Do I Want to Live?

1.     Proximity to Home

2.     Climate Preference

3.     Life After Swimming/College


Know the rules!

1.     You can’t accept any gift from the school or anyone affiliated with it.

2.     You can’t practice with them when you are visiting.

3.     Read the NCAA Guide for College Bound Athletes.

4.     What are the eligibility requirements to participate in a sport?

5.     Coaches may not call you until July 1 after your Junior year. You can call or write to

them before.

Where Do I Think I Want to Go to College?

1.     Use a broad search

2.     Include schools that are “Challenging”

3.     Include schools that are “Fun”

Do Your Homework:

1.     Entrance Standards

2.     Application Process & Deadlines

3.     Team standards, history, records, etc.       

Get In Touch With The Program

1.     Write letters to any school you are interested in:

1.     Include your best events and times

2.     Include your grades

3.     Explain why you are interested

2.     Prior to July 1st of your junior year, correspond via letter and email

3.     After July 1st of your junior year, give coaches a call

Communication Tips:

1.     DO NOT wait for them to contact you—BE PROACTIVE!

2.     Be honest about your training (and everything else).

3.     Don’t let coaches tell you what you need.

4.     If you are contacted and are not interested, let them know.

5.     Have a list of questions ready before you call.

6.     Ask about scholarships.


Official Recruiting Trips

1.     You are allowed 5 official trips.

2.     There are some who say take all 5 and others who say only take a few. You need to

consider your own schedule of meets, training and school.

3.     Don’t commit (verbally or otherwise) until you have taken all your trips.

4.     Try to take a trip to at least one “long shot.”

5.     Coaches and swimmers are evaluating you just as much as you are them.

Unofficial Trips

1.     Unlimited opportunities to visit programs and colleges.

2.     If you can, take a road trip to visit a few schools. Schedule meetings with the

coaches, don’t just show up.



1.     At this point, you have done your homework, so evaluate and reflect.

2.     Be aware of deadlines – applications, coaches, etc.

3.     Seek input from those you trust – family, friends, coaches, etc.

4.     Evaluate your offers.

5.     Make it YOUR decision

Contact Colleges After Your Decision

1.     Contact the coach of your “winner” first.

2.     Circumstances can change, so make sure you understand what is being offered   

     3. Call the coaches of your “losers” – don’t email or text. You will run into them in the 

         future, so handle your decision with "class". 

Reflect On Your Decision

1.     Trust your decision—it was the right one!

2.     Don’t second guess yourself, but you can change your mind.

3.     Understand consequences if you do change your mind. 


College Recruiting Timeline 

Freshman/Sophomore Year 

Start searching universities on the webpage
Find schools that have the major you want (your diploma will be more 

important than your swimming times after graduation!) Find out about the academic reputation of the school
Check out the team records, coach’s history with the program 

Send the coaches of the programs you’re interested in a cover letter, with an athletic resume including, most teams have questionnaires posted online: (send them updated letters/info annually!)
Your name, birthdate, address, phone number, email 

GPA and test scores Training background 

How many workouts per week, yardage, hours per workout If you’ve done weights, running, medicine balls---all dryland How many years you’ve been swimming 

Competition background
Send them a record of your times/improvement 

Any/all other activities you’re involved in
During your freshman/sophomore years, the college coaches can send you a 

questionnaire in response, and general team info, but no recruiting 

Check Initial-Eligibility Requirements. There are curtain courses you will need to 

take to be eligible to swim as a Freshman in college. 

Junior Year 

After you have begun your junior year, the college coaches can begin sending you official recruiting material. 

You should be sending updated information to them, and narrowing your list of universities to select from. 

Sign up NCAA Initial-Eligibility Clearinghouse. You can do it online at It currently costs $50. 

July 1 between your Junior and Senior Years 

College coaches can officially begin calling you on this date. They may only speak with you once per week, but may send unlimited mailings and email. 

Senior Year 

Once your senior school year has begun, you may take 5 “official” visits (where the university pays for any/all of your trip) to college campuses. These 5 visits must be to different campuses. You may go to any campus “unofficially” (where you pay for all your expenses) as many times as you like, and at any point in the selection process...during any year of school. Be sure to take a copy of the list of questions with you, to cover all your bases. Keep a journal/notes of your visits....write down your impressions of each place....what you liked, didn’t like, etc. Put down as many details as possible, so that you can compare the campuses after you’ve visited a number of them. Remember, you are choosing the place where you want to be happy for the next 4 years of your life! 

It’s very “romantic” to be recruited....having college coaches paying all this attention to you. Be sure to get your questions answered, and keep your eyes and ears open to what is best for you! 

If you decide you’re really not interested in a particular school and the coach continues to call you, please tell him/her you’re not interested. It’s a difficult thing to do, but it will save both of you time in the long run. If the coach gets mad or says mean things to you for not wanting to join his/her program, then it probably confirms that you didn’t want to swim for this person anyway! 

There are two “signing” periods for scholarships if you are offered one.....early (November) and late (April). There are pros and cons to both....if you take your visits early and are sure of your decision, then by all means, sign early! It takes a load of pressure off your shoulders in the spring semester! Some coaches may say to wait....they may have more scholarship money available in the spring semester to offer. This is a gamble.....maybe they will, maybe they won’’s not always a guarantee. Some coaches may offer a full scholarship (room/board/tuition/fees/books)...others may offer a partial scholarship, which can include any of those segments. Division I and II schools offer athletic scholarships, Division III only has academic scholarships. If you are not sure, then do wait ‘til the spring. Give yourself more time to think over the decision, and make the one that’s right for you. 

Your High School guidance counselor can help you through this process, too......s/he can help you with financial aid information, getting your test scores, etc sent to places before your official visits, and may also have resources to tell you about the academic reputations of the schools you’re looking at. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and get help! The more informed you are, the more easily you’re going to make the best decision for yourself! 

Good luck!!!