As we discussed the last couple of weeks, these are uncertain times on all fronts due to COVID-19 and it has created a lot of confusion for swimmers and parents regarding recruiting. I am receiving emails daily from senior level swimmers wondering what coaches are thinking, if the recruiting timeline has changed, and what they should be doing now.
No matter where you are in the recruiting process, no doubt you have experienced some disruption in your plans. You and your swimmer may have been planning college tours over Spring Break, your swimmer may have been invited to Junior Day, they may have had official visits planned or you may still be in the research stage.
I reached out to college swim coaches recently to ask how they think the recruiting landscape will change and what advice they have for swimmers trying to navigate this already-crazy process.
I asked the coaches 4 specific questions and I will share their replies with you over the next few weeks.
- How Will COVID-19 Impact Recruiting, Part 1 – What is your recruiting Timeline?
- How Will COVID-19 Impact Recruiting, Part 2– Should swimmers be reaching out to you now via email?
- How Will COVID-19 Impact Recruiting, Part 3-What should swimmers do if they missed their taper meet to achieve best times for recruiting?
- How Will COVID-19 Impact Recruiting, Part 4-What would you like recruits to know now?
All of the coaches I corresponded with said that swimmers should still be reaching out to them as this is a good time to exchange emails and schedule phone calls. Be sure you and your swimmer are familiar with when coaches can communicate with swimmers as it varies by age and the division the school is in.
Coach Responses: What should swimmers do if they missed their taper meet to achieve best times for recruiting?
“Do not panic. College coaches understand this and realize that improvements certainly have been made but the proof not there yet. We will take this all into account. Sending videos can help convince the coaches of the potential for improvement.”
Jimmy Tierney, Head Men’s & Women’s Swimming/Diving Coach, McKendree University
“As far as swimmers missing out on their taper meets, unfortunately it is what it is, but if their times were already good enough for our team then we wouldn’t hold it against them for not improving at the end of the winter season or even the spring for that matter.”
Eric Murray, Assistant Swim & Dive Coach, Grand Valley State University
“Our hearts go out to all of the swimmers that missed their opportunity to swim in their HS state meets, and USA sectionals and above. I would encourage any swimmer that is looking to continue their education and swimming career to reach out to me. I would love to discuss not only their accomplishments, but their goals and expectations. A lot can be learned from those conversations.”
Rob Brownell, Swimming & Diving Head Coach, Olivet College
“Right now we are still working on filling a few roster spots for this fall (2020). We are also building our database for 2021s and plan to start pushing hard for that class by the end of April. We are an NAIA school, so our timeline differs from DI and some of the larger DII colleges. We have scholarship money and positions available for both men and women for the fall of 2020 and 2021.”
Alicia Kemnitz, Head Swim Coach, Lindsey Wilson College
“Don’t worry — if you want to swim, there’s a place for you on my team regardless of your times.”
Jonathan Powers, Head Coach, Men’s and Women’s Swimming and Diving, Knox College
“While disappointing to miss an opportunity to swim your best, at the end of the day, no one is solely defined by a couple of personal best times. A prospective student athlete from a coach’s perspective is the sum of many things and a total body of work including: personality, character, work ethic, intellect, etc. As a coach, I am finding now is a great time for me personally to review and reevaluate things like my coaching philosophy, training plan, etc. Likewise, recruits may spend this time instead focusing on their personal statements to coaches, reevaluating their goals and narrowing down what they are truly looking for in a collegiate student athlete experience.”
Michael Kokoszka, Head Coach Women’s Swimming & Diving, Hunter College
What Can We Be Doing Now?
In the meantime, there are things that parents and swimmers can be doing to help them be prepared when recruiting activities pick back up again:
Take virtual tours of colleges online
Be informed so you can avoid our Recruiting Horror Stories
Learn about the different types of college swimming scholarships
Look for extracurricular activities that work well for swimmers to participate in once social distancing has relaxed
Michelle Lombana is committed to helping parents like her whose children want to swim in college. When she’s not explaining recruiting rules for college swim programs, she can be found at www.collegeswimmingguide.com.