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 this past week 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.
- What is your recruiting timeline?
- Should swimmers be reaching out to you now via email?
- What should swimmers do if they missed their taper meet to achieve best times for recruiting?
- 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 Regarding the Recruiting Timeline Changing
In terms of the recruiting timeline, the coaches all had similar advice.
“This is still somewhat of an unknown as the NCAA has not updated us on whether the recruiting dead period will end on 4/15 or be extended. We have some swimmers planning on visiting and on hold now scheduling travel until we know for sure. Visits will certainly be different as campuses will be fairly empty once prospects can visit us again.”
Jimmy Tierney, Head Men’s & Women’s Swimming/Diving Coach, McKendree University
“Since we are not a Power 5 school of even D1 for that matter, we are not too worried. Since most of our recruits don’t commit until November of their senior year we should be fine. With that being said, yes, we have had to cancel visits to our school, but we have all told them that they can come during the summer when everything is hopefully opening up and then to still plan for official visits in the fall.”
Eric Murray, Assistant Swim & Dive Coach, Grand Valley State University
“Here at Olivet College, we still have 2-3 roster spots we are trying to fill for the fall of 2020. We would like to have those filled by May 1st.”
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, Lindsey Wilson College
“Timeline has totally changed. Normally I’d be focused on closing the book on my incoming class and building my list of interested juniors. I’d still like to build my list of interested juniors — but I’d definitely encourage seniors to reach out — we’ve moved our deposit deadline back to June 1 recognizing the challenges.”
Jonathan Powers, Head Coach, Men’s and Women’s Swimming and Diving, Knox College
“The recruiting timeline hasn’t changed much. Because in person activity has been extremely limited for obvious reasons, as a coach I am spending more time right now through email, phone, text and other digital means reaching out to recruits. I would suspect that unofficial and official visits will just have to happen over a shorter period of time once restrictions are eased.”
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:
Familiarize yourselves with NCAA Recruiting Terms
Learn when coaches can contact swimmers
Download the checklist to find the right fit to swim in college
Understand when to begin the research to swim in college
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.