February and March are the big months in college swimming and it is a very exciting time! Most Conference Championship Meets are in February and NCAAs for all Divisions are in mid-March.
You and your swimmer will want to watch how teams do at Conference Champs. It will give you an idea of a team’s performance as most swimmers should be achieving best times there. Many college swimmers do not swim best times in-season as they are training hard and the college meets are scheduled so closely together. Most of the conferences have websites and you should be able to track live results there or on Meet Mobile.
Knowing how a team performed at Conference Champs also helps facilitate conversation when your swimmer communicates with coaches (which is allowed as sophomores in some Divisions, but not in others).
Your swimmer will likely have a taper meet in February and/or March and will want to update coaches in late March. We will cover some examples of introductory and update emails in next month’s issue.
You will note that college coaches become more active in terms of recruiting after Conference Champs and NCAAs are over (in Divisions where they are allowed to contact sophomores). Until then, they are focused on coaching their current swimmers.
If your swimmer is swimming in high school, they may have Conference, Regional and/or State Championships in February. For swimmers who are able to participate this year, it is a fun time for them to shine!
If you are planning college tours over Spring Break, schedule early with Admissions as they tend to fill up during that time of year. Although it is not ideal, you may need to visit campus on your own and walk around using a map for a self-guided tour. This is better than not being able to visit the schools at all.
Note that coaches are not allowed to talk to swimmers as sophomores in all divisions. If you do plan to try to talk to any coaches, let them know when you will be on campus beforehand. Even if they don’t reply to your swimmer’s email, stop by the pool to see the facilities and see if any coaches happen to be around. Familiarize yourself with the NCAA Recruiting Terms which explains many of the rules of the recruiting process and the Summary of Coach Contact will help you know when coaches can talk to swimmers in the different divisions.
Use this time before you’re in the throes of recruiting to really think about the kind of college environment your student would thrive in, and where your swimmer wants to fit on a team roster. It’s easier to think about these things before the crunch.
Consider having your swimmer take the SAT or ACT “cold” (without a prep class) in the spring or at the end of the school year. This allows him to be familiar with the test when he takes it during junior year and to figure out areas he may need to work on. If your swimmer is planning to take standardized tests in the spring or summer, be sure to register by the following dates to avoid a late fee:
ACT April 15 – register by March 10
ACT June 10 – register by May 5
ACT July 15 – register by June 16
SAT March 11 – register by February 10
SAT May 6 – register by April 7
SAT June 3 – register by May 4
You can send the test scores to the NCAA (code 9999) or NAIA (code 9876) Eligibility Clearinghouse but you may want to wait until junior year when he feels more comfortable with his results.
Coming up in March and April:
- Continue email conversations with coaches if a relationship has been established
- Send introductory emails to coaches at swim programs which are a good fit
- Continue to research schools and swim programs
- Register for the ACT and/or SAT
- Plan college tours over Spring Break