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Women’s College Swimming Recruiting Times

Women's freestyle swimming

What do coaches look for in women’s college swimming recruits? At NCSA, we frequently hear that question from swimmers. The athletic requirements to compete in college differ across division levels, and this section breaks down the times needed at the various levels of college swimming with the aim of helping you identify the right fit athletically.

How good do you have to be to swim in college?

“Am I good enough to compete at the college level?” is a question most student-athletes wonder as they begin to think about their future as a swimmer. 

NCSA’s college swimming times provide clarity for those wanting to compete in women’s college swimming at various levels. Remember that while coaches primarily look at a swimmer’s event times, they also may evaluate things like height, hand or foot size or swimming technique to understand the potential maximum performance of a swimmer. Are there seasonal swimming camps?

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 community 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 motivated. For training inspiration, check out what athletes at all levels are doing to stay in shape:

Swim Outlet is hosting virtual dryland workouts on Instagram Live.

College swimming times needed: What times do I need?

The best thing that student-athletes can do is be realistic about what type of swimming program is the best fit for them. A swimmer who only has Sectional Meet cuts likely won’t be heading to an elite swimming school on a full scholarship. College swimming times required to compete differ depending on division level. Swimmers who don’t have times fast enough for top tier D1 programs could still be a big contributor on a D2 or D3 swimming roster.

This swimming times chart below has been compiled to help swimming recruits see how they stack up across all division levels.

Women’s college swimming times for scholarships 

When reviewing your own swimming times, it’s important to remember there is no minimum time that guarantees you will get a scholarship.

The best way that swimmers can improve their odds of getting a scholarship is to look for programs where they can contribute points to the team. When it comes to divvying up scholarship money, college coaches want to maximize their budgets by awarding scholarships to swimmers who will contribute to the team’s overall success at the conference and national levels. This can be a shift in mind-set for student-athletes, who during their high school careers have been focused on their individual performance.

This swimming times chart will guide you generally in determining at what level may be the best fit.

Women’s Division 1 swimming times

The top tier Division 1 programs are never satisfied with their current level of talent. These programs look to push their teams to the highest level with the fastest recruiting classes possible.  Many women on top D1 teams compete at the Olympic level for their home countries.

The minimum time standard for most D1 programs is that of Futures Championships cuts. Student-athletes who lack cuts for this meet should consider other division levels. Making the NCAA championships can take immensely fast times. There are automatic cuts or “A” cuts, as well as consideration cuts or “B” cuts. Those with “A” cuts can swim all the events they have “B” cuts in at the NCAA championships. For top swimming schools, student-athletes generally need to either reach or be very close to the scoring range for the conference’s championship meet.

*All times in Short Course Yard


Tier 1 Standards

(Elite Power 5 D1)

Tier 2 Standards

(Elite D2-D3, Strong Mid-major D1, Power 5 D1)

Tier 3 Standards (Elite NAIA, Mid-strong D2/D3, Low to Mid-major D1)

Tier 4 Standards (Low-average D2/D3, Low-strong NAIA)

50 Free

21.7 and faster

22.9 – 23.5

23.9 – 24.1

24.5 – 27.9

100 Free

47.3 and faster

49.9 – 50.9

51.9 – 52.1

53.1 – 1.00.9

200 Free

1.43.2 and faster

1.47.9 – 1.49.7

1.50.9 – 1.52.6

1.53.8 – 2.09.9

500 Free

4.36.3 and faster

4.45.9– 4.53.1

4.59.9 – 5.03.5

5.05.1 – 5.59.9

1650 Free

15.53.5 and faster

16.29.9– 16.46.2

16.59.9 – 17.14.4

17.25.7 – 19.59.9

100 Fly

51.0 and faster

53.5 – 56.1

56.5 – 57.5

58.2 – 1.04.9

200 Fly

1.53.5 and faster

1.59.9– 2.02.7

2.03.9 – 2.05.0

2.08.9 – 2.24.9

100 Back

51.0 and faster

53.9– 56.1

57.1 – 58.1

59.0 – 1.05.9

200 Back

1.50.5 and faster

1.57.9– 2.01.3

2.03.5 – 2.05.0

2.07.2 – 2.24.9

100 Breast

58.8 and faster

1.01.9 – 1.03.7

1.04.9 – 1.06.0

1.06.9 – 1.14.9

200 Breast

2.06.9 and faster

2.14.9 – 2.19.8

2.21.5 –2.22.7

2.24.7 – 2.39.9

200 IM

1.54.3 and faster

1.59.9 – 2.03.1

2.05 – 2.08.4

2.09.3 – 2.24.9

400 IM

4.04.1 and faster

4.14.9 – 4.23.3

4.27.5 – 4.30.7

4.33.4 – 5.09.9

Women’s Division 2 swimming times

Division 2 swimming minimum times usually match up with the Speedo Sectional cuts. The higher end D2 programs stress Futures Championship times. In many cases, college coaches will only begin recruiting a student-athlete once she has proved she can swim at the competitive times for the school’s conference.

Division 3 swimming times

Speedo Sectional cuts are the standard for those wanting to swim D3, but there are also roster spots open for those falling short of the cut. The swimming times chart breaks down what times a recruit can shoot for — Lower tier programs are looking for those swimmers who might not have the times currently but have the character and work ethic to improve.

NAIA swimming times

The differences between D3 and NAIA are minor when it comes to standards coaches will accept. Roster decisions often come down to the fit a recruit has with a coaching staff or academic program. A swimmer might choose a school based on a major or other aspects of the school. 

USA swimming future championships time standards 2019

USA swimming time standards are used by coaches in all divisions regardless of level. Futures Championship cuts are those that denote a quality swimmer in any division. Olympic Trial and Senior National cuts are primarily achieved by D1 prospects, while the top end of D2 prospects make a Winter Junior Nationals cuts.

View all the 2019 Futures time standards.