Swimming in College (Tips for Prospective Athletes)

Do you have the desire to continue your swimming career in college, but don’t know how to get started? The college search can be stressful, add on the pressure of trying to get recruited for a sport and it can become overwhelming. Swimming in college has the potential to be the best decision you make, but you want to be sure the school you decide to represent is the best fit for you. Continue reading to discover some great tips to follow when you are trying to be recruited to swim in college.

Research colleges and swimming teams

The first thing I would suggest when you are looking to continue swimming in college, is to do your research. There are a lot of factors that go into making a decision of where to go to college. Proximity to home, cost, and size should all be considerations. If you are looking to continue your athletic career, you want to also be sure that the prospective colleges have the specific sport you are looking for as well.

After you have complied a list of colleges you are interested in attending, and have verified that they have a swimming team, you should be sure to do a little more research about their team in relation to your own ability. Look up their meet results and see where you would fit within the team and against other teams in their respective conference. All of this information regarding specific conference championship results, and in-season meet results can be found at the College Swimming website or on the specific swimming page of the college’s athletic website.

Contact college swimming coaches

Once you have a list of schools that you believe are interests to you, and you have researched if your times would fit well within the college’s team, you should begin contacting college swimming coaches.

Before you start communicating, check out the NCAA FAQs page to be sure that you are following the correct rules when it comes to contacting college coaches. There are certain time periods and class status requirements that you need to follow before reaching out.

I would suggest that you develop some type of introductory message when reaching out to college swimming coaches. This should be relatively short and include a description of your accomplishments throughout high school, your academic marks, and your best times/events for swimming that you think would contribute to the respective school. Keep this message short. A college coach doesn’t need to know every one of your times in every swimming event offered. Most of the time a coach will look you up on a website, like USASwimming, to verify your times and determine whether you would be a good fit for their team.

Include your contact information and thank the coach for taking time to read your message. Once a coach sees your email and responds, they will be able to assist you with further details that you will need in order to determine whether the college is a fit for you.

Visit colleges and meet the team

After you have reached out to all the colleges that were on your list, begin to determine when the best time for an official visit with the swimming team would be. Again, be sure to check the NCAA website so you know all the rules/regulations in regards to official and unofficial visits. Typically, a student is allowed 5 official visits and an unlimited number of unofficial visits during a specific time. Be sure to use those official visits wisely and only schedule visits if you are seriously considering that college. On the visit make sure to be yourself, so you can truthfully determine whether the school is right for you.

Ask questions, and then ask more questions

Make sure when you go to meet the coaches/team and visit the campus you have a list of questions that you want answered. Be sure to ask any questions that come to mind. The more you know about the program and the college, the better prepared you will be when it comes down to making a decision. Most college athletes or coaches will be happy to answer anything that you want to know. Even though every college/university is different, a lot of college programs have relatively the same training schedule. If there are any college swimmers or former college athletes around your club/high school practice; reach out to them and ask about their experiences, likes/dislikes, and overall feelings about participating in college swimming. Below is a list of questions that you may want to think about asking a coach or student-athlete.

college swimming team

Recommended questions to ask

  • What does a typical day on this team look like?
  • Do you have official tryouts for the team?
  • What does the travel schedule look like?
  • How would you describe your coaching style?
  • What is the support system like with coaches and professors?
  • What percentage of freshman remain on the team for all four years?
  • How do scholarships work? What is your renewal process?
  • What kind of players succeed here?
  • How are conflicts between athletics and academics handled?
  • What is the team GPA?
  • Are there any summer obligations?
  • Will I be able to participate in other activities/clubs? Study abroad?
  • Are there team/athletic study hall requirements?
  • Where do you see me fitting within the team?

Swim fast

It is really important to continue swimming fast and working hard even after you have started the process of communicating with college swimming coaches. Some prospective athletes may get the urge to take some time off and relax, but this is when it really starts to matter. College coaches will continue to look how you improve throughout your senior season in high school and into the summer before college starts. Your improvement during this time period could have a huge impact on your freshman season. The best way to get noticed is to work hard and swim fast!

college swimming team

Have fun!

This time in a prospective student athlete’s life is very stressful. There are a lot of decisions that need to made, but make sure you are having fun with the process. Try your best to find a team and college that you can see yourself developing into a great swimmer and an even better adult at.

This is a very big decision, so you deserve the right to be picky. Make sure that you have all the information you need when you sit down to make a decision. Take everything into consideration. This is somewhere that you are going to spend the next four or more years, so try to be sure there is no doubt this is the best place for you at the time. Think about the college as a whole and don’t just look at the swimming team you are about to join. Make sure this college has the academic program you want, and the social environment you are looking for.

Swimming in college has the potential to be one of the best things you participate in. Extremely valuable life lessons, lifelong friends, and a developed work ethic that is great to take into the working world are just a few things that you can take away from college swimming. Make sure you put the time in now to find the best college to represent!