What you should know before you dive into the recruiting process
If your goal is a college swimming scholarship, you’ve got work to do. You not only have to put in the pool time to excel as a swimmer, but you also have to navigate what can often be a complicated and frustrating recruiting process. So, to calm the waters of your own college swimming recruiting, take a few minutes to read through these tips.
You can’t earn a college scholarship in your freshman year of high school, but you should begin thinking about college recruiting by your 9th or 10th-grade year. You can start by researching colleges, filling out athletic department questionnaires, and reaching out to coaches to express your interest in their school and program. It’s not unusual for coaches to identify potential recruits at age 14 or 15 and the earlier you start your recruiting provides coaches more time to assess your potential while also providing you more time to find the school and program that offers you the best fit.
Know What You’re Looking For Before You Start Looking
As you consider schools you might be interested in, ask yourself some questions. Are you looking for a big school or a smaller school? Do you want a campus in a warm climate or cold climate? Do you want swimming to be your main focus or do you want a well-rounded college experience? Does a swim team’s dynamic fit with your personality? Know the answers to these types of questions, and others, then start considering the schools and programs that match best with your desires. Then…
Research The School And The Team
It’s a given to consider data about a school’s average class size or acceptance rate. But it’s also important to consider tuition and housing fees as well as a campus community’s cost-of-living should you only be offered a partial scholarship. What amenities do the dorms offer? How well does the school support its academic and athletic programs?
From there, look at the team, coaching staff, and athletic department. Consider the longevity of the coaching staff and the team’s record over the last several seasons. Is the team making an effort to improve or is it just treading water? How do you compare physically with the current team members? Ultimately, the more you know about a school and its swim program will make finding your best fit much easier.
Make Official And Unofficial Visits
While recruiting materials and coaches often promote grand visions of their school, team, and program, the best way to experience campus is to visit it for yourself. Whether they’re official or unofficial, campus visits allow you to get your own feel for the school, athletic facilities, team dynamics, and the local community.
In addition, a campus visit will let you consider the school as a whole beyond just the swim program. Does each school you’re considering offer your preferred major? If you could no longer swim, would you still be happy at a given school for the next three or four years?
You test drive a car before buying it. You try on a pair of shoes before purchase. And visiting a college campus is hugely important to helping you find that school is what fits you athletically, academically, and socially.
Reaching out to a coach and communicating your interest in his or her program and school is hugely important in recruiting. However, as you build a relationship with a college coach, make your communications with them count. If it’s a phone call, be prepared with questions and make sure to have answers to the questions you may be asked. Be proactive and share your recent times, meet updates, or questions about the process, but don’t overshare or overwhelm a coach with phone calls, emails, or texts. Remember that a coach’s time is valuable and that too many check-ins might get you tuned out fast.
The college swimming recruiting process can feel like being thrown in the deep end of the pool. But by starting your recruiting early, doing your research, visiting campuses, and communicating with coaches, you can dive right in and find the school, and swim program, that’s right for you!