Athletic Recruiting

The Impact of Coronavirus on College Swimming and Water Polo

While many swimmers and water polo players face the ultimate challenge of training during the coronavirus pandemic without access to their primary training tool – a pool – what they do benefit from is a decade-long trend of later recruiting.

The NCAA recruiting rules allow coaches to begin contacting student-athletes as early as June 15 after the athlete’s sophomore year, but swimming and water polo coaches usually ramp up their recruiting efforts closer to the end a recruit’s junior year. That’s because swimmers and water polo players typically show the most improvement toward the end of their high school career. Despite the later recruiting cycle, here is how athletes can stay on top of their recruiting process during the pandemic:

High school classes of 2022 & 2023

While their recruiting process is not directly impacted by recent recruiting changes, underclassmen should focus on staying in shape for an easy transition back into the water when the time comes. It’s also important to remain motivated academically, despite the challenges that e-learning may present. For online learning tips and strategies during quarantine, visit the edX blog.

High school classes of 2020 & 2021

In addition to staying in shape and focusing on academics, upperclassmen should communicate with college coaches regularly. This includes sending emails and making phone calls to connect with coaches and express interest in the program, explain how they can be an asset to the team, share how they are staying in shape and ask questions. 

Tips for training without access to a pool

In an interview with For the Win about training while in quarantine, Olympic swimmer Ryan Murphy said he’s focused on dryland workouts and is considering this time as a healthy break from the water. His words are an important reminder that it’s okay to take a break and to consider this unexpected time away from the pool as an opportunity to focus on cross training.

Like Ryan Murphy, athletes across the swimming and water polo communities are focused on dryland workouts geared towards core, cardio and strength conditioning. Some coaches are even running Zoom dryland practices to help keep their athletes motived. For training inspiration, check out what athletes at all levels are doing to stay in shape:

Highlight video as a recruiting tool

Highlight video is not typically used as a recruiting tool for swimming but, given the current suspension of in-person recruiting and canceled competitions, recruiting experts say that a different type of highlight video could help coaches evaluate athletes. Rather than competition footage, student-athletes can compile film of their dryland training to demonstrate how they are still working towards their swimming goals.

Use these tips to create a dryland training video to send to college coaches:

  • Keep it short—about one to three minutes.
  • Showcase a variety of training exercises and drills.
  • Make sure the video is high quality of the video is high with a steady hand and focused lens.
  • Keep it simple and avoid special editing effects or music.
  • Provide detailed information, including the recruit’s name, school, events, graduation year and contact information at the beginning and end of the video.

Once the video is complete, add it to the student-athlete’s recruiting profile and send a link to college coaches in an introductory email.

What to do if the coaching staff has been furloughed

Colleges and universities nationwide have furloughed employees due to financial constraints brought on by the coronavirus pandemic. At schools like Boise State, this includes the swim team coaching staff. So, what should a recruit do if a coach they’ve been speaking with has been furloughed?

  1. Send the coaching staff regular updates. While furloughed coaches will likely be unable to continue recruiting, student-athletes should still send updates on their training progress as a way to nurture their relationship with the coaching staff.
  2. Reach out to the athletic director and college admissions team. These individuals may not be able to answer the recruit’s swimming-specific recruiting questions, but they may be able to answer some of their general athletic and academic questions.
  3. Contact current team members. Without access to the coaching staff, talking to current roster spot holders is the next best thing. Recruits can ask team members questions about their experience and the team dynamic to get a better feel for the program.
  4. Keep your options open. If a student-athlete is uncertain about their status as a recruit for their top choice program, it’s important that they be open to exploring other options. Recruits should research other opportunities to compete at the college level and begin building a relationship with the coaching staff at programs.

The future of competitive swimming and water polo

USA Swimming recently announced the cancellation of national events originally scheduled for July and August to allow the organization to plan for “a new series of summer events better tailored to the current environment”. The organization introduced 14-16 regional events in August that would kick off the return to competition. These events are designed to limit the need for travel and promote a safer competition environment.

As USA Swimming and other organizations begin to strategize around reopening, SwimSwam took a look at what the future of competitive swimming may look like by breaking down problems the community may face and possible solutions.

USA Water Polo recently updated their events calendar most recently on April 17 and will continue to provide up-to-date information on their COVID-19 page.

For more insight into college recruiting during the coronavirus pandemic, check out our recent Facebook Live interviews with NCSA’s Swimming Recruiting Coach Jeff Smith and USA Water Polo team member Max Irving.

About the author
Jasmin Thames