The world of women’s college swimming recruiting is very competitive. High school swimmers who want to continue the sport at the collegiate level will find they are one among many competing for a roster spot, as well as potential swimming scholarships. Recognizing the complexities in the women’s college swimming recruitment process, we’ve developed this section of useful information to help families, club and high school coaches in the college swimming recruiting process.
The college swimming recruiting process is about identifying the right college athletically, academically, socially and financially. What does a high school women’s swimmer have to do in order to start taking an active role in their college swimming recruiting process? The obvious advice of continually improving times is only one of various things that must be done. Taking academics seriously can open a range of schools that otherwise would not have been available to a student with lesser grades or test scores. What are the major swim camps in the U.S.?
College swimming recruiting rules are not the same across the board. College recruiters from NCAA Division 1 and 2 universities must follow certain rules their counterparts from Division 3, NAIA and NJCAA schools do not have to be concerned about. For example, D1 and D2 program swimming recruiters aren’t permitted to begin contacting recruits until June 15h after their sophomore year. Once recruiting begins, recruiting happens year round except for limitations on in-person contact during what is called the “dead period.” During the dead period, November 11-14, 2019, the only forms of contact may be made (text or email, e.g.). NCAA Division 3, NAIA and Junior College swimming recruiting can happen at any time and is year-round with no limitations.
According to NCAA research, most initial recruiting contact from coaches took place during the student-athlete’s junior year of high school. With new rules in place for the 2019-2020 season, college swim coaches now believe the process will begin earlier, since contact can officially begin after June 15 of the athlete’s sophomore year. The trend of committing as a junior recently has become more popular, while a decade ago this was very rare in NCAA women’s swimming. Earlier commitments mean that families and recruits need to prepare for recruiting, as scholarship money is running out at earlier dates.
This section breaks down the latest NCAA recruiting information student-athletes and their families need to understand about all the steps in the college swimming recruiting timeline.
The question on most student-athlete swimmers’ minds is, “How good do I need to be to compete at the next level?” or “Am I fast enough to swim in college?” By learning the answers to these questions, women’s college swimming potential recruits will gain a sense of how they stack up against other swimmers and what tier of competition they may reach or what swimming scholarships may be available to them.
Our team of swimming experts uses the following college swimming recruiting times guidelines to help recruits and parents understand what schools would be a good fit athletically. For example, most elite D1 women’s swimming recruits can swim the 50 Freestyle as fast as 21.7 seconds, but most swimmers in the D2 and D3 divisions will clock in around 23-24 seconds.
Keep in mind, these guidelines are based on established qualifying times for major swim meets and a strong understanding of the key differences between and within division levels, but if there’s a school you’re interested in, it’s best to research the program specifically. You will want to see what times current athletes are swimming and what it takes to be competitive at the conference and national level.
Getting a scholarship is oftentimes the primary goal in a family’s college swimming recruiting process. The good news is that there are many opportunities to earn a women’s college swimming scholarship, but it’s important to understand how the scholarship process works and where to focus your energy in pursuing one.
Schools within the NCAA Division 1 and 2 levels follow the organization’s equivalency scholarship guidelines. The total allotment of scholarships for women’s swimming may be divided in any combination of ways among those athletes on the roster. The equivalency scholarship model is also used by NAIA schools. Division 1 swim teams are allotted the equivalent of 14 scholarships, and each program can use the money differently. Division 2 programs have up to 8.1 scholarships, and NAIA programs have up to 8 scholarships.
At the NCAA Division 1 level, there are seldom any student-athletes that end up with full-ride swimming scholarships. However, at the NJCAA level there are several instances of college swimming recruits being offered full swimming scholarships.
At the NCAA Division 3 level, there are no swimming scholarships, but other forms of financial awards, such as academic grants, can help college swimming recruits to defray overall college costs. If a student has shown leadership skills in high school, there are grants and other scholarships where the student-athlete must maintain a certain minimum GPA.
The key to finding the best swimming scholarship opportunities, is identifying schools where swimmers can score points at the conference and national level.
When a student-athlete knows they would like to swim at the college level, they can begin proactively managing their college swimming recruiting process. Although it can seem complicated at first, there are many practical tips families can follow to become more empowered in their recruiting process.
In a survey published by the NCAA, 85 percent of women’s swimming recruits reported having a positive recruiting process. By gaining an understanding of what’s ahead, families can set themselves up for a positive recruiting journey.
We’ve worked with our swimming experts to provide the most important details and advice to help you achieve your dream of earning a women’s college swimming roster spot. You’ll learn the academic expectations for student-athletes, as well as practical tips like how to research opportunities and initiate communication with college coaches.
There are many reasons potential college swimming scholarship recruits should put an emphasis on attending one or more swim camps held at numerous universities across the country. There are a multitude of skills and technique tweaks that top talent coaches can communicate to a swimmer. Tightening up skills like that of flip turns or underwater kicks can make a huge difference when it comes time to race.
There are 627 colleges, universities and junior colleges supporting women’s swimming programs throughout the United States. Here Is the divisional breakdown:
Student-athletes with the desire to advance to women’s college swimming need to weigh all their options before making an enrollment decision – to find the right fit athletically, academically, culturally and financially. One way to evaluate fit is to ask yourself if you’d still be happy with a school selection even if you weren’t able to swim there.
The lists of colleges in this section are broken down by division level and provide more context around what these college experiences may be like. In reviewing these lists, student-athletes and their families will learn about the opportunities out there, as well as start thinking about the right fit overall – not just athletically.
There are a few popular websites used by coaches, student-athletes and their families to keep up with news and events in the women’s college swimming community, such as Swim Swam, College Swimming, SwimCloud, and FloSwimming.
These websites often highlight winners of district or regional state swimming meets, so they are great tools for student-athletes to get their names out there. Coaches browse these websites to see improvements by swimmers in articles, as well as announcements of transfers and commitments in the world of women’s college swimming.
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.