The NCAA made two major changes to recruiting rules in April, 2018 that affected Division I and now there are a couple more which help simplify last year’s rule changes. The new rules go into effect on May 1, 2019.

Official visits are now allowed beginning August 1st of a swimmer’s junior year in high school.

Official visits during junior year were allowed beginning in September with the 2018 rule changes so this moves it up a month. However, the majority of coaches are continuing to invite swimmers to visit during senior year. They feel that juniors are young to be on a college campus staying with the swimmers in dorms, etc. As a parent, I certainly agree!

Some programs are recruiting swimmers earlier and having them commit as juniors and these coaches will bring juniors in for official visits but it will not be the majority of coaches. College Swimming Guide Fast Lane Members have access to a Directory of College Swim Programs with input directly from college coaches and most of them said they still prefer that high school seniors visit.

One significant part of the rule change is that coaches can now speak to swimmers on campus on August 1st of junior year. The 2018 rule change didn’t allow coaches to speak to swimmers until September 1st of junior year which made it difficult for anyone taking college tours the summer between sophomore and junior year. It’s helpful to speak to coaches when on campus to see the facilities, learn more about the program, and express interest to the coach.

Coaches can call swimmers on June 15th after sophomore year which is a full year earlier than previously allowed. In the past, swimmers were able to call a coach any time and coach could talk to the swimmer if he happened to answer the phone. Now, coaches cannot accept phone calls from swimmers until June 15th after sophomore year.

These rules apply to many sports, not just swimming, and are intended to curb the trend toward early verbal commitments. If coaches cannot speak to freshmen and sophomores, they cannot offer them positions on their teams. Swimming is unique in terms of recruiting since it’s almost entirely dependent on times so early recruiting doesn’t give most swimmers a chance to reach their full potential.

The recruiting rules vary between divisions so it’s a good idea to be informed as to the differences between them. Download College Swimming Guide’s updated Summary of Coach Contact to help you keep it all straight.

The research to swim in college should begin as a freshman and increase in intensity as high school progresses. There are tasks to be completed each year in order to be organized and to fully explore options.

Regardless of the age in which a swimmer is being recruited, coaches still want swimmers with good attitudes who want to work hard. College Swimming Guide wrote a series of articles on what coaches are looking for and these qualities will always be important.

What are Coaches Looking for in College Swimmers, Part 1

What are Coaches Looking for in College Swimmers, Part 2

What are Coaches Looking for in College Swimmers, Part 3

What are Coaches Looking for in College Swimmers, Part 4

What are Coaches Looking for in College Swimmers, Part 5


Both official and unofficial visits will be impacted by these NCAA rule changes and it will take a while for coaches to decide how to handle the new rules.  They were just getting used to the rules implemented last year so don’t be surprised if there is some confusion among swimmers, parents and coaches as new procedures are developed.

College Swimming Guide members will receive the most up-to-date information as the new rules develop and are put into practice through the Monthly Action Items, sample emails to coaches, Directory of College Swim Programs, and other materials they receive.


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



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