For many swimmers, making it onto a college team is their greatest goal and also one of their most rewarding experiences. However, in order to reach this dream, a swimmer needs to work very hard both inside and outside of the pool. Here are some tips to get the most out of the swimming training you’ve put in over the years and master the early stages of the recruiting process:

  1. Focus in the Pool: The most important times that a college coach will look at are those from your junior year. Throughout your junior year, you must remain focused. Work on improving your technique, maybe by hiring a personal coach. Be sure to never relenting in your training to ensure you achieve the fastest times possible.
  2. Decide on a Division: Each division has very different ideals so it’s important to know what you want your collegiate swimming experience to be like. DI and DII schools can potentially give you scholarships, though this happens more infrequently than you think and they are often not very large. Either way, they will expect you to train doubles sessions from the second you step on campus. DIII will not pay you, but can offer you aid packages to help with finances. In terms of training, they will be less demanding and allow for more emphasis on academics. You can improve your times in any division, so it comes down to how much time you want to dedicate and whether your financial situation requires scholarship.
  3. Decide How You Want to Fit in: Do you want to be one of the top swimmers on your team, start from the bottom and work your way up, or sit somewhere in the middle? Where will you thrive the most and be inspired to push yourself in the pool? Figure this out before you start your search so you have a goal in mind.
  4. Research Times: With your ideal fit in mind, start searching teams in the division and region of the country where you think you might want to be. Make a list of teams that fit these criteria. One of the advantages of swimming is that it’s all based on times, so you can figure out where you fit in rather easily.
  5. Contact Coaches: By NCAA rules, college coaches cannot personally contact you until July 1st before your senior year, but that doesn’t mean you can’t contact them. Almost all other swimmers will be reaching out to coaches so make sure you stay ahead of the game. After your championship meet in the winter or early spring of your junior year, start emailing coaches from the list you’ve made. Express your interest in their program, tell them your times, and ask if you could potentially meet when you visit the school.
  6. Schedule Recruit Trips: After speaking with coaches, some will extend invitations to come on official recruiting trips in the fall of your senior year. By NCAA rules, you are only allowed 4 recruiting trips, so chose wisely. If you don’t have 4 schools you’re truly interested in, don’t go on four! They are very time consuming and you don’t want to lead a coach on when you’re not interested in their program.

By following these steps, you will put yourself in a position to get the most out of your college recruiting trips and ultimately be able to select the college and swim program that fits you best.

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