Every year we hear stories of athletes who have offers retracted due to things they post on social media. As parents, we often take the opportunity to tell our kids that it can happen and try to use the stories as a lesson to be learned. Most teens think it won’t happen to them…..and we hope they’re right, but we wonder….

Do coaches really check the social media posts of prospective recruits?

Of course, there is no hard and fast rule on this and not all coaches are the same.

However, it’s important to remember that they COULD check the social media posts so the safe bet is to keep them clean.

Assistant coaches tend to be younger than head coaches and are probably more social media savvy. They are posting about their program in order to attract prospective recruits and they are following recruits as well. Some of them are straightforward and follow recruits using their own name while others friend recruits using a fake name. They can then see everything your swimmer and his other connections post. Using a fake name sounds a little underhanded but, unfortunately, it’s widely done.

Swimmers should also realize that teammates at prospective schools can follow them and give feedback to coaches.

College admissions offices also can check the social media accounts of applicants. I don’t think they have the time to friend them and check what they post on a regular basis but I suppose some small schools might. It’s not worth the risk either way.

Some high school seniors change their name on social media accounts during the application process or set up a second account. This is one way to go about it, but it seems a lot easier to just keep the one account clean!

I know of one mom who posts a lot of political opinions and her child asked her to change her name on social media. The child was afraid it would affect her chances of being admitted to college and getting a job. Had she asked me, I would have given the same advice to the mom that I give to swimmers – it’s easier just to keep your own social media account clean and non-controversial.

Monitoring social media accounts pertains to your swimmer’s friends and connections as well. If your child’s feed shows raunchy jokes, inappropriate language, and questionable activities, a coach or admissions officer could make the assumption that your child is the same.

On the flip side, if a coach sees your child posting about school, community service, and family events, he will be favorably impressed.

Coaches love to see prospective athletes posting about their team, supporting teammates and so on – it shows good sportsmanship and a sense of team which are qualities they are looking for in recruits.

No coach wants to take a risk on a swimmer who may have disciplinary issues at school or who may engage in activities that make the team look bad. That photo of the whole gang with red solo cups and dazed expressions may seem funny at the time but probably won’t in the light of day the following morning.

Good social media habits will carry forward to when students are looking for jobs and internships so it’s a good idea to adopt them now. It pays to always be aware that coaches could be checking social media and to only post things that you would want them to see.


Michelle Lombana is committed to helping parents like her whose children want to swim in college. Membership in the College Swimming Guide Fast Lane guides you through the process with spreadsheets of times needed to score at Conference Championship Meets, Top Event Times at all college swim programs in the U.S., sample emails to coaches, and monthly action items. Michelle is available for private consulting for Fast Lane members as well.


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