Swimming in College: Recruiting Horror Stories Part 3

Swimming in College: Recruiting Horror Stories Part 3

Parents often ask “How can I help my child swim in college?” and “What can go wrong in the recruiting process?” Unfortunately, many things can go wrong and it’s important to be organized and to know when to begin the research to swim in college.

Being prepared can avoid some of the problems but, despite everyone’s best efforts, there are horror stories every year. This multi-part series will describe some of the horror stories to help you and your swimmer be prepared (all names of swimmers and schools have been changed).

Recruiting Horror Stories, Part 1:

  • Times Needed to Be Invited for an Official Visit
  • Someone Faster Came Along
  • You Didn’t Pass the Admissions Pre-Read

Recruiting Horror Stories, Part 2:

  • We Can No Longer Support You Through Admissions
  • Do You Want to Change Your Major?
  • Be Careful of the Competition

Recruiting Horror Stories, Part 3:

  • An Official Visit Should not Be One Big Party
  • I Committed as a Junior and My Offer Later Changed
  •  I Was Invited for a Visit Then the Coach Left

Part 4: Coming soon

 

An Official Visit Should Not Be One Big Party

Recruits are often excited for an Official Visit and see it as a chance to experience college life firsthand, which is fine as they do not let it get out of hand. “Jason” was no exception and planned to take advantage of every opportunity during his visit to “Greater Atlantic University”. The first day, he attended a class, went on a college tour, ate with the team, watched practice and felt like the school was a good match. He liked the teammates and felt very comfortable and relaxed with them.  When he found out that the team was having a get-together that night, he viewed it as his chance to show the older swimmers that he was cool and could fit in. He didn’t hesitate when someone offered him a red solo cup and he downed it quickly and went back for more. He noticed that the other recruits were drinking water or soft drinks, but he thought they were simply less mature than he was. As the evening went on, Jason got louder and louder and was convinced he was the funniest guy in the room. The next morning, he was hurting but tried to cover it up and participate in the planned activities. The second night, there was another party and Jason repeated his activities of the previous night and fully believed he was the life of the party.

The last morning, he had a terrible headache and felt sick as he was meeting with the coach before departing for home. The coach could tell something was off and later asked his swimmers about Jason’s behavior throughout the weekend. Needless to say, Jason did not receive an offer from the school.

Of course, the college swimmers should not have taken recruits to parties, it is a violation of NCAA rules and it’s illegal if they’re under 21. However, it does happen and swimmers need to be prepared for it. They can walk around with a red solo cup filled with water if they are uncomfortable or need something in their hands. Most of the recruits I’ve talked to who are taken to parties say alcohol is available but there is no pressure to drink.

 

I Committed as a Junior and My Offer Later Changed

“Julia” made a verbal commitment to “Dream College” as a junior and was happy to have the decision made. She visited campus with her family on an Unofficial Visit then later took an Official Visit to meet the team. The coach told her she would qualify for multiple scholarships, including a small athletic scholarship and a significant amount of academic money. She applied to the university Early Decision (a binding decision where applicants who are accepted ED must attend the school with very few exceptions) and was confident that she would be admitted based on the assurance of the coach. When she received her acceptance letter, she was stunned. They granted her admission but told her that she did not qualify for any academic scholarships. By this point, she had missed opportunities at the other schools she was originally considering and she loved this school.

In hindsight, Julia should have asked to speak with someone in Admissions or Financial Aid to obtain more information about the requirements of the academic scholarship. It’s difficult for high school students to ask about scholarships and parents often need to guide them in the questions to ask. She could have asked the coach if he could guarantee that she would receive an academic scholarship, although it’s rare that a coach will do so. Unfortunately, this type of scenario may happen more often as swimmers commit before senior year when they can submit applications for admission and receive financial aid awards.

 

I Was Invited for a Visit Then the Coach Left

After months of talking and emailing with a college assistant swim coach at “Elusive University”, “Madi” was told she was one of their top recruits and would be invited for an Official Visit in the fall of her senior year. She was ecstatic as the school was perfect for her in many ways – two hours from home, medium-size and an outstanding program in her academic major.

She didn’t hear from the coach for a couple of weeks and thought it was odd but didn’t dwell on it. After three weeks, she tried emailing him and calling him but received no response. At this point, she checked the school website and his name was gone from the list of coaches. She reached out to the other assistant coach who was very vague and told her she didn’t know what was going on. The head coach was at an international meet so Madi had to wait another week for him to return to the country before he replied to her email. He didn’t acknowledge that she had been a top recruit or that he was even aware of her status as a recruit. Instead, he told her that their spots for visits were full but she might be able to visit in the spring.

Madi was devastated, she had her heart set on attending this school and she felt misled and abandoned. Madi didn’t do anything wrong in this case, she either fell through the cracks during the transition of coaches or the former assistant coach was talking out of turn.

Swimmers should not fall in love with one school, they need to cast a wide net and have many schools on their target list. It’s preferable to interact with multiple coaches at a school too, although this is not always possible since some colleges designate one coach as the recruiting coordinator to handle communication with recruits.

 

The lessons to be learned from these horror stories are to focus on realistic target schools and to pursue a lot of schools so there are several options.

In future articles, I’ll share more anecdotes to help parents and swimmers ask the right questions and be at the top of their game when it comes to recruiting.

 


Michelle Lombana is committed to helping parents like her whose children want to swim in college.  When she’s not explaining recruiting rules for college swim programs, she can be found at www.collegeswimmingguide.com.

Make A Splash!


Subscribe to get the free newsletter and learn how to prepare your swimmer to swim in college.

Powered by ConvertKit
When is the Best Time to Make a Decision About Where to Swim in College?

When is the Best Time to Make a Decision About Where to Swim in College?

With the recent changes to the NCAA Recruiting Rules, it feels like there is more and more pressure on swimmers to make a decision early regarding where to swim in college.

Parents and swimmers often ask if it is better to commit to a college swim program in junior year or in senior year during the fall or the spring? The answer depends on both the swimmer’s readiness and the preference of the coach.

Swimmers worry that all of the roster spots and/or scholarship money will be gone if they don’t commit early and coaches worry that recruits will have already committed.

In reality, a lot of swimmers wait until spring of senior year to select a program. Some of them are hoping to get faster to appeal to more programs, some kids just aren’t ready yet….there are a lot of reasons for this and there is nothing wrong with it. You don’t want your child to rush into a decision because “everyone is doing it” and feel that he didn’t take time to fully research his options.

Many coaches still prefer to recruit seniors. They feel that juniors are young to take official visits and to make such big decisions. It can be intimidating enough for high school seniors to spend the weekend on campus with swimmers and it’s even harder to imagine juniors being ready to interact socially with swimmers that much older.

Regardless of their age, swimmers should show interest to coaches when talking to them on the phone and emailing with them. Coaches don’t want to spend time pursuing recruits who are unlikely to attend their school.

Often swimmers don’t feel ready to make a decision during junior year or even during fall of senior year. They are still analyzing features of colleges that interest them and considering academic majors. It’s hard for 16- and 17-year-olds to know what they want which is why it’s critical to tour colleges early and to know when to begin the research to swim in college.

Some swimmers are hoping to get faster during senior year and this works for some but backfires for others. We’d all like a crystal ball to tell us if this is likely to happen! In reality, if the target list of schools was good to begin with, the time improvement will have to be drastic to make a difference. This is why it’s critical to find the right fit in swim programs when developing an initial target list of schools to contact.

If a swimmer has been ill or injured and hasn’t hit her best times in a while, this could be a different situation and a compelling reason to commit later. The club coach can help determine the amount of time it will take to recover and when it is reasonable to begin recruiting activities.

Swimmers are often concerned about whether there will be any scholarship money left if they wait to commit. However, not all schools are fully funded or even have any athletic scholarship money so this is not always a valid concern. Many swimmers earn multiple types of scholarships, including merit and academic, and it’s important to ask when these scholarships are awarded. Most coaches don’t want to discuss scholarships until there have been several points of contact and they have established that there is mutual interest.

College Swimming Guide Fast Lane members have access to a Directory of College Swimming Programs where I asked coaches at all of the swim programs in the country many questions, including when they would like swimmers to commit. The majority of coaches said they want swimmers to wait and make a decision when they are comfortable.

It’s important for swimmers not to feel pressured by coaches or peers and to make the decision when it feels right.


Michelle Lombana is committed to helping parents like her whose children want to swim in college.  When she’s not explaining recruiting rules for college swim programs, she can be found at www.collegeswimmingguide.com.

Make A Splash!


Subscribe to get the free newsletter and learn how to prepare your swimmer to swim in college.

Powered by ConvertKit
Swimming in College: Recruiting Horror Stories, Part 2

Swimming in College: Recruiting Horror Stories, Part 2

Parents often ask “How can I help my child swim in college?” and “What can go wrong in the recruiting process?” Unfortunately, many things can go wrong and it’s important to be organized and to know when to begin the research to swim in college.

Being prepared can avoid some of the problems but, despite everyone’s best efforts, there are horror stories every year. This multi-part series will describe some of the horror stories to help you and your swimmer be prepared (all names of swimmers and schools have been changed).

Recruiting Horror Stories, Part 1:

  • Times Needed to Be Invited for an Official Visit
  • Someone Faster Came Along
  • You Didn’t Pass the Admissions Pre-Read

Recruiting Horror Stories, Part 2:

  • We Can No Longer Support You Through Admissions
  • Do You Want to Change Your Major?
  • Be Careful of the Competition

Part 3: Coming Soon

 

We Can No Longer Support You Through Admissions

“Josh” had been talking to an assistant coach at “High Stats University” for almost a year and all signs were very positive that they wanted him to swim for them. His stats were slightly below most of the students there but the coach assured him that it wouldn’t be a problem as he could “help” him through the admissions process. Josh knew he wouldn’t be admitted to the school without swimming but he saw it as an opportunity to get an education at a highly respected school. He went on an official visit and loved the school and the team. Their program for his major was strong and he could see himself excelling there. After the visit, he didn’t hear from the coach so he reached out to him to reiterate his interest in the school.

After about a week, the coach finally replied and said they had used up all of their academic support positions but Josh would be welcome to join the team if he were to be admitted to the college on his own. Josh was very disappointed but realized that he would not be accepted to the school without the support of the coach.

Josh and his parents wondered what went wrong in this scenario. Josh felt like he communicated with the coach and understood that he was indeed a top recruit. Sometimes coaches change their minds, particularly if a faster recruit comes along, or it can be a numbers game and a matter of timing. If a coach only has six academic support positions and he is talking to twelve possible recruits who need help through admissions, he may use up his six spots in the order in which recruits visit and/or are ready to commit. If your swimmer is relying on academic support positions, it is perfectly acceptable to ask the coach how many total athletes he can support and how many positions he has remaining. Swimmers can also ask how many recruits the coach is considering for their position. Remember that just as swimmers are looking at a lot of schools, coaches are looking at a lot of swimmers!

 

Do You Want to Change Your Major?

“Emily” was being recruited by “State Flagship University” and went on an official visit to meet the coaches and the team. Her test scores and GPA were in the high range for this school but she didn’t mind as she wanted to attend a large school with a football team and a lot of team spirit. Emily was planning to study Biomedical Engineering which is a rigorous major but she was a strong student and was confident in her ability to juggle her studies with swimming. When she met the swimmers the first evening, some of them suggested she might want to change her major and study something easier. She didn’t think much about it until her one-on-one meeting with the head coach on her last morning when the coach told her she would need to select a different major as swimming had to come first.

Emily left the visit very disillusioned and definitely not interested in the school. She recognized that she was attending college to prepare her for a career and would be hanging up her goggles at the end of four years of collegiate swimming. She was sad that she wasted an official visit on this school but happy that she hadn’t committed to attend there.

Before her next visits, Emily looked at the team rosters on the website to see which majors the swimmers study. She also talked to the coaches to make sure that they did not have any issues with her area of study. While there are a few academic majors that are difficult with swimming, most are manageable with some organization.

 

Be Careful of the Competition

“Daniel” scheduled three official visits to schools where he was very interested. As a nationally ranked breaststroker, he was a highly sought-after recruit. “Up and Coming University” was his top choice even before he visited and his club coach had a close relationship with the new head coach there. He loved everything about the school – the pool, the coaching staff, the team members, the city – and he could see himself achieving his swimming goals in that program.

There were six recruits visiting that weekend, including another breaststroker “Ryan” whose times were very similar to Daniel’s. During the visit, they all got to know each other well and Ryan asked the other recruits a lot of questions about their social lives and areas in which they have experimented. Daniel admitted that he tried smoking weed twice but didn’t smoke regularly.

During the one-on-one meeting with the head coach at the end of the visit, Ryan reported to the coach that Daniel told him he has smoked weed. The coach ended up offering Ryan a spot on the team and not making an offer to Daniel. To make matters worse, the head coach called Daniel’s club coach to tell him why he was passing on him.

Needless to say, Daniel was mortified and heartbroken. As parents, we may say the obvious answer is not to engage in risky or illegal behavior and our kids won’t have anything to worry about. However, they are teens and they will make mistakes. They have to learn who to trust and recognize that sometimes people, especially those who may be competitors, will have ulterior motives when appearing to befriend them. It’s certainly better not to admit any areas of weakness while on an official visit no matter who they are talking to.

 

The lessons to be learned from these horror stories are to focus on realistic target schools and to pursue a lot of schools so there are several options

In future articles, I’ll share more anecdotes to help parents and swimmers ask the right questions and be at the top of their game when it comes to recruiting.

 


 

Michelle Lombana is committed to helping parents like her whose children want to swim in college.  When she’s not explaining recruiting rules for college swim programs, she can be found at www.collegeswimmingguide.com.

 

Make A Splash!


Subscribe to get the free newsletter and learn how to prepare your swimmer to swim in college.

Powered by ConvertKit
Swimming in College: Recruiting Horror Stories, Part 1

Swimming in College: Recruiting Horror Stories, Part 1

Parents often ask “How can I help my child swim in college?” and “What can go wrong in the recruiting process?” Unfortunately, many things can go wrong and it’s important to be organized and to know when to begin the research to swim in college.

Being prepared can avoid some of the problems but, despite everyone’s best efforts, there are horror stories every year. This multi-part series will describe some of the horror stories to help you and your swimmer be prepared (all names of swimmers and schools have been changed).

Part 1:

  • Times Needed to Be Invited for an Official Visit
  • Someone Faster Came Along
  • You Didn’t Pass the Admissions Pre-Read

Part 2: Coming Soon

Part 3: Coming Soon

 

Times Needed to Be Invited for an Official Visit

“Jake” emailed back and forth regularly with an assistant coach at “Valley University” throughout his junior year and established a good rapport. He asked the coach what times he needed in order to be invited for an official visit in the fall and the coach told him he needed a Winter Junior cut. Jake trained hard all summer to achieve this and the Valley coach was at Futures when he got two Winter Junior cuts. When he met with him in person after the meet was over, the coach said “well, we want Summer Junior cuts for the swimmers we invite on fall visits but we’d like to consider bringing you in for a visit in the spring.” Jake was crushed and felt like he had been misled. Moreover, he was not interested in waiting until spring to take recruiting visits.

In hindsight, Jake and his parents realized that he was not competitive in the conference as he was far from placing in the Top 16 at Conference Champs. Despite the coach telling him he needed Winter Junior cuts to be invited on a visit, the other freshmen were faster than that. Doing some more research beforehand would have helped him realize this but he regrouped and developed a better list of target schools and is now happily swimming at a Division I mid-major school.

 

Someone Faster Came Along

“Hailey” wanted to study business in a large urban city and was thrilled when she was invited on an official visit to “University of the Big City” (UBC). She had spoken to the coach and emailed with him several times and felt that he was very interested. She conveyed her interest in the school and the business major and even knew a club teammate from home on the team. Her recruiting visit went well and she really liked the girls on the team. She was not the fastest on the team but would have likely made the travel team and perhaps scored a few points in the bottom of the B final at Conference Champs as a freshman. She hoped to receive an offer soon after the visit, but heard nothing. She waited a few days and emailed but didn’t receive a response. After about 10 days, the coach called her and said that a faster swimmer took an official visit the week after she did and they were waiting to see if she committed. They only had room for one breaststroker so they couldn’t take both. If the other girl didn’t accept, they would make Hailey an offer.

Hailey didn’t do anything wrong in this situation, she conveyed her interest to the coach and she followed up. She could have asked a few more questions such as, “how many people do you plan to bring in for my position next year?” and “how many breaststroke recruits are you considering?” Fortunately, Hailey had several schools on her list and, even though this was originally her number one option, she ended up at a school where she had a fantastic freshman year.

 

You Didn’t Pass the Admissions Pre-Read

“Zach” wanted to attend an academically competitive Division 3 school and researched colleges throughout his junior year. His family made a trip across the northeast during spring break and toured eight colleges and spoke to several coaches. His times were competitive at a lot of the schools and his test scores and GPA fell within the midrange (25thto 75thpercentile) although they were at the lower end. He continued to speak to five coaches and planned to narrow it down to a first choice to apply Early Decision (ED) which he knew would be binding. He asked each coach for an academic pre-read so he had an idea of whether or not he would be accepted. All of the coaches were encouraging about his chances for admission, particularly the coach at “College of Liberal Arts” where he would have been the fastest swimmer on the team. He told the CLA coach that he planned to apply ED.

He didn’t hear anything from the coach after submitting his materials for the pre-read, despite emailing him a couple of times to follow up. After about a month, the coach finally responded and told him that he didn’t pass the pre-read so there was nothing the coach could do. Zach and his parents were very surprised as his stats appeared to be in line.

Meanwhile, Zach told the coach at his second choice school that he planned to apply ED2 which is also binding but occurs later in the fall. The coach was disappointed in this decision and it probably sent the message that they were not Zach’s first choice. This put Zach in the position of having to go back to the second choice coach and tell him he is now planning to apply ED. It would have been better for Zach to not disclose this information until he had the results back from all of his pre-reads.

Also, there are some schools where the coach can support a certain number of athletes through the admissions process. This would have been a good question for Zach to ask when submitting his stats. Zach is still in the middle of recruiting process and is hoping it works out with his second choice school.

 

The lessons to be learned from these horror stories are to focus on realistic target schools and to pursue a lot of schools so there are several options.

In future articles, I’ll share more anecdotes to help parents and swimmers ask the right questions and be at the top of their game when it comes to recruiting.

 


Michelle Lombana is committed to helping parents like her whose children want to swim in college.  When she’s not explaining recruiting rules for college swim programs, she can be found at www.collegeswimmingguide.com.

Make A Splash!


Subscribe to get the free newsletter and learn how to prepare your swimmer to swim in college.

Powered by ConvertKit

Pin It on Pinterest