The college process can be a daunting one for swimmers wanting to compete at the collegiate level.  There are two governing bodies - NCAA and NAIA.  The NCAA has three divisions - I, II and III - and is the more common governing body.  The NCAA allows for athletic scholarships in D-I and D-II only; D-III schools cannot offer athletic scholarships.  NCAA D-I schools can sometimes be listed as major D-I or mid-major D-I.  

Each NCAA division has its own national championship and own qualifying times.  D-I standards are generally faster than Olympic Trials, when converted to meters.  D-II and D-III standards are generally close to senior national standards.  

The NAIA has fewer schools, but can often be better funded.  Championship standards are approximately senior sectional championships.

Before any swimmer looks to apply to a college, consider the following questions - 

  • WHERE do you want to live for the next 4 year?  If you don't like snow, don't move north!
  • WHAT do you want to do for the rest of life?  Think about your academic studies first!
  • DOES the school(s) you are interested in have swimming and how would you fit in - best times, training, roster space?
  • IF you did not swim, is this school the still the school you would still attend?

Many times, swimmers look to get scholarships for swimming.  The reality is there are very few scholarships available due to funding and Title IX.  Not all schools have the same number of scholarships available.  Most coaches will tell the athlete to seek academic monies first, athletic second.

As a guideline, girls looking for athletic monies need to achieve at the NCSA Junior National level or higher; boys at the USA-S Junior National level or higher.  But this can vary based on the school and its funding.  Swimmers who have times which could score points at conference or national championships have a better opportunity to receive scholarship monies.

Be realistic, keep things in perspective and have options!  Swimmers do not always get into their first choice of schools for a variety of reasons.  Your best events may not be something your primary choice is in need; Your times may not be fast enough; Or the fit just isn't right.  Don't get caught up in the hype of "having to go to a D-I school or else."  

Remember, education is first.  The opportunity to swim and represent a school is second.  

Last piece of advice... Don't wait to start researching college opportunities.  Although schools may have restrictions on how they can communicate with athletes, research can start any time.  If you're a swimmer who wants to swim at the big-time D-I level, for example, do the research now!  Keep your mind open and keep things realistic.  Feel free to contact Coach Jim for assistance.

Use the links below on the recruiting process and additional information.

NCAA Clearing House - for swimmers looking to compete in Division-I or Division-II in the NCAA.  This is required.

Be Recruited and - are sites to promote graduating swimmers and get exposure to the colleges.

NAIA (National Assoc. of Intercollegiate Athletics) - the alternative governing body to the NCAA

College Associations information

NCAA Sports Sponsorship see all the team which offer swimming

Additional information

Selection processes