Swimmers have grueling schedules between attending school, studying, swim practice and swim meets. They have a hard time fitting in other activities, including family time and a social life, let alone a job or extracurricular activities.
Is it important for swimmers to fit in extracurricular activities? The answer is a resounding YES for several reasons.
Colleges are looking for students with unique traits who will contribute to the student body as a whole. Depending on the school, some coaches have enough pull to get athletes admitted based solely on their athletic performance without taking other factors into account. However, this is not always the case and swimmers should not count on it. The more competitive of a candidate your swimmer is, the more likely he is to gain admission to a school.
Coaches are more likely to recruit swimmers who have a better chance of being admitted to the school as they do not want to waste their time and recruiting budget on an athlete who will not get in to the school.
An exception is for Olympic caliber swimmers who will be recruited at top schools, regardless of participating in other activities.
Many colleges award scholarships based on leadership and service activities. Since Division III colleges cannot award athletic scholarships, all scholarships are based on grades, leadership, and service.
Even at schools which do have athletic scholarship money for swimmers, they rarely cover a full ride and the financial award can be a combination of scholarships based on grades, leadership and service. Two of my sons received scholarships for their leadership and service in high school – they did not apply for the scholarships, their universities awarded them in their financial packages. In the case of my swimmer, it supplements his athletic scholarship.
A large number of outside scholarships (not awarded by a particular school) are based on involvement in a particular area or community service. When you search for college scholarships, you can look for scholarships in areas of music performance, visual arts, robotics, science competitions, community service, and many more.
Participating in extracurricular activities helps swimmers learn time management to balance their activities along with school and swimming. They may decide that the majority of their activities need to take place in the summer when they do not have school. This is fine – it requires them to think through when and how to schedule their activities.
Preparation For Life After College And Swimming
Many times, extracurricular activities help our kids learn about their interests and future career interests. Participating on a Robotics Team may help a student decide on a career in Mechanical Engineering. Conversely, participating in a Future Health Professionals Club may help them realize that they cannot stand the sight of blood and a career in healthcare is not a good plan!
In college, students must participate in activities and organizations in order to be competitive candidates for jobs after graduation. If they are already used to fitting extracurricular activities into their high school schedule, it will be easier to figure this out in college.
Be A Well-Rounded Person
It is important to be well-rounded for personal growth and as a candidate for colleges and jobs. In addition, if a swimmer is going through a plateau or frustration with their performance in the pool, it is beneficial to have something else to focus on and another way to feel successful.
It is also helpful to have friends in multiple interest areas. My college swimmer hangs out with his teammates but he also has friends in the science and pre-health clubs in which he participates. He enjoys both groups and feels that it is nice to have options.
There is no doubt that our swimmers have tough schedules and trying to fit in extracurricular activities can be overwhelming. However, it is possible to find activities that do not require huge time commitments and that meet at convenient times. College Swimming Guide suggests some extracurricular activities that work well for swimmers (LINK TO BLOG POST) and there are many more options, depending on your swimmer’s interests.
Michelle Lombana is committed to helping parents like herself whose children want to swim in college. When she’s not looking for extracurricular activities for swimmers, she can be found at www.collegeswimmingguide.com.