6 Common College Swimming Recruiting Myths

Michael Butler
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The coaches will beat down your door.

College coaches aren’t Johnny Football-searching-for-the-next-tom-brady. They have jobs, families, and responsibilities. That being said, they want to find the right fit to each of their programs. Not everyone is the right fit for a specific program. It's not a matter of beating down your door (or filing a coach aware request on your top-choice institution).

To increase your chances of getting noticed by a coach, you need to be noticed. There are plenty of times when I have experienced what you desire. I was with my now-wife, at a pool party with friends in 2011. I saw a fast swimmer at one of the tables. I approached him, and we began talking about the sport.

One thing led to another, and I left the party with a name and number of a swammer that I could contact to get additional information on the school. The next day, I did just that and followed up on the information to schedule a visit for a future date when I came back from my summer training.

If you are at an event and are looking for a coach, introduce yourself, ask questions about the program, and express an interest in the institution. That is what you need to do. You need to be noticed by a coach.

Your swimming performance will over-shadow any academic shortcomings.

This is untrue. As a swim college coach, the one thing I value the most is commitment. As a college swimming coach, I tell my swimmers that NCAA-certified courses are very important. Swimmers are given the priority of taking the necessary classes, clinics, and attending appropriate academic advising.

If a swimmer is unable to meet these requirements, he will no longer be eligible for the team.

Your financial aid package will be accredited.

Actually, this is true, to a certain extent. Financial aid is a huge factor in college for athletes. Unfortunately, in college sport; athletes have run into a few roadblocks in terms of financial aid. Many swimmers were faced with the frightening reality that they owned seven-digit student loans which were accrediting in time to their scheduled graduation date.

Also, the majority of the student’s financial aid is comprised of loans that need to be paid back in the future.

Libraries are only for studying.

Public libraries are great for studying and skimming for information you need for your class. I like to use the public library to look at the exam booklets or to see how the professors word the questions. If there is a particularly challenging question on an exam, you can search the library for similar topics of study.

You should only hit up the dream schools on your list.

This is a bad idea. While the dream schools may be your top choices, you get more opportunities for success if you also recognize other strong teams to which you may not have considered yourself… yet.

In fact, letting a team know you’re interested when you’re just starting to form a top-choice list will give you an early advantage and show you care about the program.

You should also avoid concentrating on just one dream school too early. It’s better to be a known entity by many schools than a highly coveted prospect for only one program.

Let’s say you’re hoping to swim for a big five school in your home pool. Let’s also say you’re not very interested in anyone else. It’s a mistake to only reach out to one dream school. And ignoring others will limit your swimming success.

You need to produce a 45 minute highlight film.

No, not really.

You should submit a selection of best times for each stroke and your best IM time (if you can).

For a single session swim, you need to do around 6500 yards (5800m).


Each college has it’s own requirements for how much yardage you need to swim in each session, but the number of sessions per week, and the length of those sessions is up to you.

Constant training volume is much more important to performance than how many, or how many yards.

Charisma is needed for recruitment, but for more visible sports.

Great personality is great to have in any field. Just remember that your swimming abilities should be leading the way here.

Recruiters will ignore you if you are not registered with a college pool.

Not necessarily.

Recruiters may have their own preferred way of finding recruits, but to make sure you get the best coach/team to evaluate your potential, you should be registered with a college information database.

Don’t invest in videos, until you’re ready to produce one.

There’s no need to spend money on a professional video until you’re ready to submit it to a college team.

Most college recruiting is done for you.

You can wait until your senior year to start looking.

This myth could not be more wrong!

The best swimmers are often scooped up by the best college programs well before their senior year. This means that if you’re a top swimmer with aspirations of competing at the Division 1 or Division 1A level, you need to start on the swim recruiting process in your freshman or sophomore year.

If you don’t think you’re quite ready to pursue college swimming, but you’re still interested in swimming at the college level, then you should start the evaluation process in your junior year.

It’s recommended that you start swimming at a swim club or swim for your school so that you have the option to get college coaches interested in your progress as early as possible.

Once you’ve been recruited by a college, it’s your job to choose which college you want to attend.

Athletic scholarships will cover everything.

It’s true that there are plenty of college swimmers who receive scholarships. In fact, the NCAA reports that 50% of college swimmers are on athletic scholarships. But you should recognize and be aware of the differences between swimmers receiving athletic scholarships and those who don’t.

Swimmers who receive scholarships don’t normally receive full tuition. They are also less likely to receive room and board as part of their scholarships.

Be prepared to offset the costs of college by starting a college savings account and applying for multiple scholarships while in high school.

Application materials submitted for college admissions and scholarships often include a student’s swimming resume, or resume of accomplishments, that highlights their years of participation, age group rankings, awards, and financial need. When compiling this resume, it’s important to focus on what you’ve done and what you can do, not what others have done or alleged you may be able to do.

Myth: My Coach Can Get Me a Swimming Scholarship

If you want your coach to help you find a swimming scholarship, you should have a specific conversation with him ahead of time. If he does not take the initiative to set a time aside to have such a discussion, this means he prefers to remain passive on the matter.

A good coach will respect the fact that you may want to talk about a potential scholarship while also respecting the fact that they cannot guarantee the outcome.

If your coach is reluctant to have this conversation, or flat out says that your past times with him will ensure that you will be awarded a scholarship (or any other guarantee), then you should choose a different coach. A good coach will respect that you’re an adult who has other options. They should want you to be successful in your swimming endeavors because it reflects positively not only on them, but on the team as a whole.

A good coach will also be open to hearing about your past accomplishments as well as your motivations and goals. They should be willing to listen and collaborate with you in order to figure out a plan of action based on your wants and their knowledge of available options and contacts.