NCAA swimming rules are in place to regulate recruiting efforts and contact periods between coaches and student-athletes. The more families understand the rules, the better they’ll be able to manage their recruiting process.
The NCAA men’s swimming recruiting rules were updated in May 2019 for two main reasons:
NCAA swimming recruiting rules and calendars can prove to be a difficult read for student-athletes and their families. Most importantly, the rules are designed to limit when and how college coaches can proactively recruit prospects. The easiest rule to remember is that men’s swimming coaches from NCAA D1 and D2 schools are permitted to be involved in recruiting through most of the calendar year. The lone exception is what the NCAA calls the ‘dead period’: the days from November 11-14, 2019. No in-person communication is allowed during this period. NCAA Division 3 coaches are not working under this rule, so these coaches can make contact and recruit year-round. What makes the best swim camp programs?
The NCAA swimming recruiting rules allow student-athletes to be contacted initially by an NCAA D1 and D2 college coach or recruiter only after June 15 of sophomore year. However, it is not like college coaches wait until June 15 of a recruiting class’ sophomore year to begin looking for prospects. Leading up to that time, coaches are watching results, searching prospect databases and can send non-recruiting materials, such as questionnaires, camp information or non-athletic information at any time.
Along with the new rules, the role of high school and club coaches has also changed. In the past, college coaches could pursue recruits indirectly by working with their high school or club coach. College coaches are no longer allowed to engage in that type of recruiting before they can officially contact a recruit.
On June 15 after sophomore year, NCAA D1 and D2 college coaches and recruiters are permitted to begin contacting recruits. On August 1 before junior year, NCAA swimming recruiting rules permit student-athletes and their families to take an “official visit.” This means that recruiting efforts really ramp up during your junior year. Coaches can send non-recruiting material, like brochures or camp information, at any time.
This is also the same time that college coaches can begin communicating with high school and club coaches about their student-athletes.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
To provide student-athletes a better atmosphere for choosing a college to attend, as well as stepping up its efforts to curtail early recruiting, the NCAA has changed D1 men’s college swimming recruiting rules as of May 2019.
Although these rules changes addressed many issues around early recruiting for other sports, in swimming the implications are a little different, and College Swimming & Diving Coaches Association have actually requested an exemption for swimming. Many college swim coaches believe that for swimming, the new rules have had the opposite effect and will increase early recruiting – since it previously wasn’t common for swimming recruits to be contacted before junior year.
Even with the changes within the NCAA swimming recruiting rules for D1 schools, coaches will still be working to gather information regarding possible scholarship recruits. These new rules may also have a trickle-down effect for other levels (D2, D3, NAIA and NJCAA) as many of those recruiters base their offers on which men’s swimmers have accepted D1 scholarship offers. Basically, coaches are still building their recruiting classes before they can contact a recruit. They are going to be watching results, searching national prospect databases and evaluating potential athletes at swim meets, and at summer camps at colleges.
NCAA Division 1 swimming recruiting rules permit college coaches to recruit at any time except during four-day ‘Dead Period,’ November 9–12, 2020. Other rules to be followed are:
Prior to June 15 after sophomore year: There can be no communication at all initiated by the coach or the athlete. During this time, a recruit can be sent materials such as questionnaires, camp information as well as non-athletic publications. College coaches are also restricted from having recruiting communication with your club or high school coach.
After June 15 following sophomore year: Recruiting communication officially begins, and student-athletes can expect to hear from coaches in a variety of ways, including email, text messages, social media messages and by phone. Student-athletes may also initiate the contact. Verbal offers and commitments are also allowed.
Beginning August 1 of junior year: Official visits to a school are now permitted. Men’s swimming recruits are allowed one visit per school and are limited to five total school visits. Off-campus contact is also permitted.
Senior year: College coaches may only make three off-campus contacts with the NCAA swimming recruit.
NCAA Division 2 swimming recruiting rules do not have a ‘dead period’ like D1 recruiting rules. Recruiting is year-round. Here’s a breakdown of the D2 recruiting rules:
General materials: College swim coaches and recruiters may contact a recruit through the sending of questionnaires, camp information, NCAA materials and non-athletic collegiate publications at any time.
Printed recruiting materials: Starting July 15 after an athlete’s sophomore year, college swim coaches and recruiters may send other recruiting materials like camp information.
Telephone calls: Starting June 15 after a men’s college swimming recruit’s sophomore year, a college coach is permitted to contact a recruit via the telephone.
Off-campus contact: The college recruiter may also make off-campus contact with the potential men’s college swimmer after June 15 of sophomore year.
Official visits: During the senior year of the college swimming recruiting process a collegiate coach may only make three off-campus contacts with the NCAA swimming recruit. Read more about official visits and unofficial visits.
The NCAA swimming recruiting rules for Division 3 are not as stringent as the rules in D1/D2.
As a freshman/sophomore, you may receive brochures for camps and questionnaires as well as well as recruiting information from D3 coaches. Coaches are also permitted to call you an unlimited number of times and you may also call them at your own expense. You are allowed to make unlimited unofficial visits at any time, but official visits aren’t allowed until after January 1 of junior year.
Men’s college recruiters may also make off-campus contact after your sophomore year.
Beginning on the first day of your senior year, you may make one official visit per college.
NAIA swimming recruiting rules are vastly different than those established by the NCAA. For the high school student-athlete:
There are no restrictions concerning contact with coaches. Student-athletes and coaches can contact each other an unlimited number of times.
There is no recruiting calendar. Recruiting is year-round.
All methods of contact with a coach are permitted, including e-mail, text, phone call or in-person.
NCAA Divisions 1 & 2
NCAA Division 3
Insider tip: Despite the impact that coronavirus had on college sports, as of June 1, 2021, the NCAA resumed its regular recruiting rules and activity! Coaches are actively working to fill their rosters, so student-athletes should be proactive in reaching out to coaches. Read up on how the extra year of eligibility granted to athletes who were most affected by the pandemic in 2020 will impact future recruiting classes.