Here are the answers to some of the most common questions that I hear from parents and swimmers about the recruiting process to swim in college. These are just a few – visit www.collegeswimmingguide.com for more answers and more information.
For an even more detailed how-to guide for swimming in college, become a College Swimming Guide Fast Lane Member.(Membership is still at $249 for all 4 years of high school.)
When should we begin the research to swim in college?
Swimmers should begin researching colleges and swim programs by sophomore year. The search will be more general in the beginning as swimmers are thinking about the type of college they want and where they want to fit in a program.
As they get older, the search will become more intense when they narrow down the criteria that’s important to them in a school.
How many college tours should we take?
It’s beneficial to begin taking college tours early, especially as your family travels to other cities to visit relatives or to take vacations. Often, students find out just as much about what they don’t want in a college as what they do want when touring colleges.
There is no magic number of college tours to take. It depends on convenience – if there are colleges nearby or within a reasonable distance – and the amount of time and budget you can spend touring schools.
As swimmers get older and narrow down their top choices, it becomes more important to visit campus.
What if my child doesn’t know what he wants to study?
On one college tour, I heard a statistic that said 75% of college freshmen change their major. This makes it important to select a school with a lot of options for majors in case your student does change his mind.
Some colleges offer an undeclared program (this goes by many names) which allows students to explore different majors
High school students are young to decide what they want to do with the rest of their life so don’t be alarmed if they aren’t sure of an academic major yet.
How much should we expect our club coach to help?
The majority of club coaches won’t conduct a full search for college swim programs although they may recommend a few that they’re familiar with.
Their main job is to coach your child to swim faster so they qualify to swim in college and to help set reasonable goals so swimmers know which schools to target.
Most of them are happy to give references to college coaches if asked.
Our Fast Lane program is designed for you and your swimmers to lead your search requesting assistance from your coach at various times.
How do we figure out which schools are a good fit?
Coaches are typically interested in swimmers who can score at the Conference Championship Meet.
The best approach is to figure out the conferences where your child would have placed in the Top 16 at the championship meet. Then see which schools are in those conferences and if they meet your swimmer’s criteria in terms of academic major, size distance from home, intensity of swim program and so on.
The legwork can be done on your own or College Swimming Guide has compiled spreadsheets of Conference Championship Meet results and Top Event times for each college swim program to save Fast Lane Members hundreds of hours of time in research. As you reassess your swimmer’s times and the schools that would value him, this tool becomes invaluable for clarification and frequent checking.
How do we know which division is the best for my swimmer?
There is a myth that Division I schools are fastest and schools in the other divisions are slower. While the fastest conferences do tend to be in Division I, all of the divisions have fast conferences and slow conferences so swim times alone should not make this decision.
There are many Division II and Division III conferences that are faster than many Division I conferences.
Some swimmers prefer Division II, Division III or NAIA schools as they can qualify to swim at the NCAA Championship Meet.
It’s best to keep an open mind and explore several divisions as the best fit really depends more on the individual school and conference than the division.
There are many steps along the journey of being recruited to swim in college and a College Swimming Guide Fast Lane membership will guide you through the entire process by letting you know what to do, how to do it and when to do it. Fast LaneMembership benefits include:
- Action Items at the Beginning of Each Month
- Conference Championship Meet Times (spreadsheets)
- Individual College Top Event Times (spreadsheets)
- Email Templates for Contacting Coaches
- Lists of Questions to Ask Coaches
- College Swimming Guide Fast Lane Community (a space to interact with other swim parents)
- Directory of College Swim Programs with input from college coaches all over the country
- Access to my expertise through the private community, live chats and the ability to purchase private consultations if desired.
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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