What's it like? How are the coaches? Being on the team? Facilities? Schedule? Is the team competitive within the league? How does it integrate with student life, studies, etc.? All you can tell re swimming at Williams and academics and student life there in general, please!
Well, it's the top men's swimming program in one of the top three D-3 conferences for swimming in Division 3 (I think the men's and women's teams have won a combined 23/24 NESCAC titles the past 12 years). The coach is great and has won numerous NESCAC COY awards, he is very well-liked, and the diving coach is also great. The team tends to have a tremendous amount of spirit. Rosters are very large and the men's and women's swimming / diving / water polo teams (water polo is a club sport that features many members of the teams) are very tight knit most years and tend to be a fun crew of people. Men's swimming usually finishes in the top 10 nationally, women's swimming almost always finishes in the top 5. The schedule is very competitive, they typically face a few D-1 teams each year and sometimes win (and are always competitive) and NESCAC features great swimming programs across the board. Swimmers are certainly integrated into campus life completely, as tends to be the case across the board with Division Three athletics, everywhere. The facilities are very good (among the best athletics facilities at Williams, some of the athletics facilities need some serious work, but not the pool), a great pool with a large gallery, which has hosted in the past the National Chamionship meet.
My D will be a swimmer at Williams in the fall. Coach Kuster is in charge of both the men's and women's programs. She was so impressed with him and the atmosphere around the team (and of course the College) that she completely changed from D1 university focused to wanting Williams which she got in ED. She is so pumped--the kids on the team have already embraced her as part of Williams swimming and she is chomping at the bit to start.
He has been honest, upfront throughout the process. Everyone we have spoken to about him uses glowing terms as both a person and a coach. A look at the times of some of his top swimmers when they were in high school and after being in the programs are proof of his coaching prowess-- that the teams have such high morale and act as recruiting advocates says something about him.
Ephman is right the pool is wonderful and when we were last there one of the maintenance men said that they were replacing the movable bulkhead this summer for some huge amount of money so that it will be start of the art.
Although I only know (and mostly 2nd hand) about the women's program, I think it may help you understand Williams swimming in general.
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The only people who would say the pool is wonderful haven't been to Midd. I would say "above average".
The team is awesome, deep and fast, and it's always fun to swim for the champs. Kuster must be a great coach. However, he has been a bit optimistic with some recruits on their chances of actually getting in...Gotta push him.
I sat in the "large gallery" for several days last month. and would state that is by comparison to Trinity or Wesleyan perhaps.We were squished.Amherst with a 6 lane pool has a bigger gallery, as does Bowdoin, Midd, and Hamilton.
Of course, if you can get into Williams, by all means go there . Unless you like Midd better...Some do, but it's really splitting hairs.
My D found him very forthright and honest all during the recruiting process-- he told her that until he heard back from admissions he wouldn't make any commitment and once he did get the green light he then spoke long and hard with her until both she and he were convinced of the fit-- only then did he ask her if she was willing to apply ED-- when she said yes-- he told her to do it. At no time did he ever lead her on.
My D has been in contact with most of the women recruits and all of them this year have the same type of story.
There is great deal of pride and pressure on the team-- they have never lost NESCAC--and no team wants to be the first to do so. Coach seems to look for specific types of swimmers to fill needs he has/or will have after graduation. You might want to check who are the rising seniors and what events they swim to get a sense of his recruiting needs.
Also it is a very tight group-- they socialize together, etc. It will become to focus of your non-academic life, although student council officers, JAs (Caroline Wilson was one this year), a cappella singers, etc are swimmers. Coach also takes great stock in how well his swimmers do in the classroom and the team has a gap higher than the class average and usually has most of them graduating with significant honors in tough majors (not a few are double majors-- Carolyn Geller was Mathematics and Art, I believe).
If it sounds like I am a Williams booster-- it is because I have become so.