As we have been discussing over the last few 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 would you like recruits to know now?
“I recommend just taking a breath and encouraging kids to keep in touch and request conversations with coaches and programs that they are interested in pursuing. Things will be delayed but that is going to really depend on each program which is why kids should reach out to schools they are interested in to understand each programs process as they are all slightly different.”
James Holder, Head Swim Coach, Dartmouth College
“They will still be recruited! For the 21’s, there is still plenty of time to showcase. Yes, some schools may be completing their ‘21 classes soon but many will have openings. If you have the desire to be a part of a program, then show it. Coaches love to see the passion.”
Jimmy Tierney, Head Men’s & Women’s Swimming/Diving Coach, McKendree University
“I would like recruits to know that we understand that times are tough. Fortunately, Olivet College wants to provide them a chance to see and reach their full potential, and missing out on their final meet is difficult, but that doesn’t mean their journey is over. We believe in our family, vision, and athletes here at OC. We are building championship caliber teams with goals of rewriting our record boards and qualifying for NCAA’s every year. We encourage you to check us out, and maybe become part of our family.”
Rob Brownell, Swimming & Diving Head Coach, Olivet College
“Relax, breathe and take care of yourself first and foremost. To seniors, the college decision is difficult in the best of times, and these certainly are not the best of times. Ultimately you are likely choosing from very good options for you, so relax (easier said than done I know– and it has been a while since I’ve been able to relax). Know that you will be able to receive a good education at the schools you are considering. To juniors and sophomores, continue exploring colleges online, reach out to coaches, and know that you have lots of time and it is great that you’ve begun your search.”
Jonathan Powers, Head Coach, Men’s and Women’s Swimming and Diving, Knox College
“Don’t stress out, make the most of your time both keeping fit and taking care of yourself and be proactive! When things start getting back to normal, you want to be ready.”
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:
Reach out to college swimmers to ask questions
Find out what coaches are looking for
Research colleges and learn how to narrow down the college search
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.