Your swimmer may be invited to attend Junior Day at some of the schools where she has had contact with the college swim coach. If it is possible logistically to attend, it is a great opportunity. The program is usually about a half day and is geared toward both swimmers and parents. The plan can vary by school though.
You and your swimmer will learn far more than you would on a regular college tour. It is also helpful to find out more about some of the schools where your child will hope to schedule official visits. Since swimmers are limited to 5 official visits in Division I and Division II, they will want to select carefully. There is no limit to the number of official visits a swimmer can take in Division III and NAIA and no limit to the number of unofficial visits a swimmer can take to any school.
Tour Athletic Facilities
It is beneficial to see the athletic facilities when you visit. Swimmers spend so much time in the pool that it is nice to get a look at their “home away from home”. Be careful not to be “wowed” by a beautiful pool and weight room though and not consider the other pros and cons of a particular school. The fully-equipped weight room is only so good if the school doesn’t offer your child’s desired major or he doesn’t click with his team mates.
Lunch With Swimmers
If the program includes lunch with members of the swim team, definitely take advantage of it. This is a casual event where you can ask many questions and get a feel for the team members. When speaking with them think about whether they seem to have bonded as a group and support each other, as well as the emphasis placed on academics within the team.
Another benefit is that your child can see what he thinks of the cafeteria food there.
The campus tour may not be as inclusive as a regular campus tour, but you should be able to get a good idea of the campus. These tours are often led by the swimmers so you can ask questions about where the swimmers live, how far it is to the pool, which dining hall the swimmer use and so forth. A lot of the information will help give perspective on a day in the life of a swimmer.
The coaches often hold a “meet and greet” session where they meet the attendees and chat casually. This is a nice chance for your swimmer to introduce himself and to put a name with a face if he has been talking to any of the coaches.
Swim Program Details
The formal presentation will include a lot of information about the team, such as when they practice and the distance/yardage they typically swim each week. The strength and conditioning program will probably be described and they will tell you if they have a separate strength coach. They may also give an example of the meet schedule so your swimmer can see which teams they compete against.
You will be told about academic support in the areas of tutoring and academic study halls. Some teams have required study hall, especially for freshmen, and others make it optional unless the swimmer’s dips below a certain GPA.
You should be able to get a feel as to whether the focus is more on academics or swimming.
The coaches may describe the number of athletic scholarships they are able to offer and give an idea of the possibility of merit scholarships from the school. This is always dependent on the student, but it helps to know if any money is available and the criteria.
Overall Feel Of The Team
Junior Day will allow your swimmer to get an overall feel of the team. He should consider whether these are people he will want to hang out with nearly every day and ask himself the following questions:
- Am I comfortable with the other swimmers?
- Do I like the style and philosophy of the coaches?
- Can I see myself at this school?
After Junior Day, your swimmer should email the coaches thanking them for inviting her. This will help continue the dialog with the coach as the recruiting process moves forward.
Michelle Lombana is committed to helping parents like her whose children want to swim in college. When she’s not compiling top swim times, she can be found at www.collegeswimmingguide.com.