One of the most common questions I get at College Swimming Guide is “what should my swimmer ask a college coach?” The answer is not as cut and dry as you might think as it depends on many factors.

Is the school in NCAA Division I, II or III or NAIA or NJCAA?

Communication between swimmers and coaches varies depending on which governing body oversees the college. Schools are allowed to email swimmers as follows:

NCAA Division I schools: coaches can email swimmers and reply to emails after June 15 after their sophomore year

NCAA Division II schools: coaches can email swimmers and reply to emails after June 15 after their sophomore year

NCAA Division III schools: coaches can email swimmers and reply to emails any time

NAIA schools: coaches can email swimmers and reply to emails any time

NJCAA schools: coaches can email swimmers and reply to emails any time

Swimmers can contact a coach at anytime but should understand whether or not a coach is able to respond at the time. Many coaches create a file for the swimmers who contact them. If swimmers email coaches prior to the date in which they can reply, the coaches will likely file the email for future reference.


How old is your swimmer?

The communication will be different for a swimmer in their sophomore year compared to a swimmer at the end of their junior year. The questions will become more in-depth as the swimmers gets closer to college and as the swimmer become more interested in a program. The tone is often set by the coach depending on his interest as well. He will communicate more frequently and offer more information to swimmers that he is recruiting more heavily.

In sophomore year, the questions should be more general as the swimmer is still researching many schools and learning about the colleges as well as the swim programs. Questions about type of training and coaching style are appropriate at this time.


Is a rapport established with the coach?

Questions will obviously differ when the swimmer and coach have been emailing back and forth for a period of time. At this point, questions are often more in-depth and more specific to the swimmer, such as needs for the swimmer’s events, dryland training, practice expectations and academic support.

Before emailing coaches, swimmers should complete the Recruit Questionnaire for the college (found on the college athletics web site). This includes information about the swimmer and event times. If a swimmer emails a coach without completing the questionnaire, the coach will most often reply and ask for the questionnaire. Questionnaires can typically be completed in 5-10 minutes so your swimmer may want to set aside a period of time to complete several at once since they all ask for the same information.


College Swimming Guide Membership includes lists of questions to ask coaches at the different points throughout the recruiting process, along with sample emails to send to coaches.  Check out the other benefits of becoming a member here.



Michelle Lombana is committed to helping parents like her whose children want to swim in college.  When she’s not helping swimmers communicate with college coaches, she can be found at


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