I am wondering how much swimming will benefit me in my college admissions. I am planning on applying to several Ivy League schools, including Princeton. For anyone here who is a swimmer, my top times are as follows :
My long course 100M breast is also very close to a Junior Nationals Cut.
In my school, I am in the top 10, I have a 4.51 weighted/ 3.81 unweighted GPA, and 33 ACT. I participate in multiple extracurricular activities and am the captain of several clubs.
My main question is, even though my academic performance is not particularly stellar, what is the probability that swimming will give me the extra boost in order to get into those top Universities?
I don't claim to be an expert on this subject but my brother graduated from Princeton many years ago and I recall him telling me about his roommate's younger sister; she was one of the very top squash players in the entire US and the Princeton coach wanted her on his team so she got into Princeton. (Of course there was no athletic scholarship involved but she did get an Ivy League education.) Are your swimming times some of the best in the nation? If so, that might overcome, in your words, your "not particularly stellar" academics. I am not trying to be harsh, but the competition/level of quality of applicants at the top schools is unbelievable! On the other hand, there are a lot of great schools out there in the tier just below the Ivies--Stanford, Northwestern, Duke, Vanderbilt, Notre Dame, Georgetown, Wash U, etc.
Those are times that would be helpful at d3 schools. The coaches at UChicago, WUSTL, Nescac schools would respond favorably. Ivy swimming, especially Princeton is much faster. Look at the Ivy Championships resultsto get an idea.
When it comes to admissions, your swimming will only benefit you if the coach knows about you and puts you on his or her list. At any school, whether Division 1 or Division 3, each coach has a limited number of admissions slots, and that number is small, other than Ivy football, which a 30 slots (and there are a lot more than 30 football players who want those slots).
You need to meet with your coach and talk about what your attractiveness is as a college athlete, and then develop a plan to reach the schools at that level in which you have an interest. There may be additional programs or summer meets or summer camps that the college coaches attend that you should be attending to get discovered.
Most of the top schools will admit an athlete whose academics are somewhat below average (for that school) if the coach wants that person enough.
The good part about swimming is that it's pretty easy to judge your caliber - all the pools are the same length, so your times are a clear indicator of how good you are. Other sports are harder to judge - all-league in basketball may mean a lot, or nothing, depending on the league.
PS: If your times appear to be good for Division 3 schools, it can't hurt to write to the coach at the D3 schools that interest you. That's how I first got the attention of the Princeton football coach, 35 years ago (and I was a placekicker, so I could be evaluated by my distances, at least to some degree)
If swimming is important to you, go the best academic school you can get into where you are also good enough to be on the swim team. And you'd be surprised how much sway the coach has if you're good enough. Read about the Academic Index and Ivy League recruiting if you want to know more about how the recruiting game works; you'll find the game to be generally similar at the top D3 schools as well.
Bear in mind that the coaches court many and dump most, so you need to keep lots of balls in the air in the early going.
Your times are not towards the top of the Ivy League numbers - yet - but you're only in high school. You may improve. The Ivy coaches will know what kind of times from a high school kid will look good to them.
That means that no one on this board is in a position to judge whether you're a potential D3 or D1 swimmer. No one here knows what your development profile is likely to be. Talk to your current coach about what level you should be aiming for. Unless he says that there is no way that the Ivies will be interested in you, ask him to contact those schools for you (or do it yourself). At the same time, contact any other schools that you would be interested in if all of the Ivies say no, and make sure you include some Division 3 schools. 25 or 50 schools or more may pursue you – many will eventually dump you, and you will probably dump many yourself, but get the numbers high now.