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Swim recruiting questions

jmtabbjmtabb Registered User Posts: 192 Junior Member
Hi all, hoping to get some feedback from those that have traveled this path before us. My daughter, 16 is a competitive swimmer, has recently had some nice drops in her times and has decided that college swimming is now "on the table". Until recently she was thinking she'd be perfectly happy with a rec team so we're now diving into the whole college recruiting thing.

She's a rising junior, and her drops happened at the last short course meet of the season last spring - at a meet where she only swam relays and her one qualified entry. Her relay times registered big drops too, but they aren't "official" times since she was not the first off the block.

Her long course times are also registering drops that mimic the short course times she had, but aren't quite as impressive - this is a kid that works the walls _really_ well and short course is really her thing.

So, the question is, does she start contacting coaches now, with her current times, or wait until the fall when she'll start swimming short course meets again and should have improved times in a few more events? She's a top student (4.0 GPA unweighted, top test scores) but even with her recent drops probably a D3 swimmer. The one identified school that seems to meet both her academic and swimming goals right now is MIT - which of course is far from a sure thing regardless of grades.

Thanks for your insight! We're out of our element with college sports.

Replies to: Swim recruiting questions

  • fleishmo6fleishmo6 Registered User Posts: 558 Member
    edited July 2017
    Never to early to reach out to coaches via email
    Most will respond and that's how you start the communication
    Spread a wide net to the schools that fit both the academic and athletic goals
    If looking at MIT also look at the NESCAC Schools
    In the email ask coaches if you could send updated time drops after winter champs
    Try and have unofficial visits over Junior Year so you can eliminate schools that you do not want to waste official visits on
    Fall of Senior year is very hectic with swim meets and official visits so try to narrow down the schools after the Spring Championships
    Most schools will require their athletes to apply ED to receive help getting in so most times your grades and swim times are done by completion of Junior year
    This is the important swim season
    Good luck and any questions just ask
  • planitplanit Registered User Posts: 158 Junior Member
    My daughter is a year ahead of yours but also a short-course girl; walls are her friends. She is a mid-major D1 level swimmer and has piles of interest from coaches of match schools. She has not pursued any swim reaches. She mostly started contacting coaches after her championship meet in December of her junior year, because that was her first tapered meet after an injury her sophomore year. She dropped time in her focus events in December, so she put those times into collegeswimming and then sent emails and completed questionnaires for probably 10 programs (always follow up the questionnaire with a getting-to-know-me email). She had more drops in March, and it was clear that the coaches were following her because of her December contact, as several started emailing her immediately after. A couple of colleges saw her swim in her March meet because she was on their watch list. She did contact one coach in spring of her sophomore year, and he's stayed in touch, watched her in a meet, came to a practice, had lunch with us, etc. He's still top 2 on her list, so I don't discount the sophomore contact entirely, but our experience was that fall of junior year was plenty early. We visited about five schools spring of junior year and met with their coaches. She has offers on the table but is waiting to take OVs to three of those schools before making a decision in October of her senior year.
    Anyway, FWIW, I think that holding off to junior year championship times is fine. I always think you want to lead with your best stuff, so if SC is your best stuff, I would wait.
  • gardenstategalgardenstategal Registered User Posts: 4,829 Senior Member
    One of the differences between sports with objective measures (times) and others, such as soccer or basketball, is that a coach knows what he's dealing with pretty quickly. He's not trying to figure out your style of play or whether you can play another position or are equally capable on both sides of the field or against a certain type of offense. While you will want to know the coach , the program, the team, etc., he/she will know whether your times are good enough to be competitive and whether you swim an event (s) where there is a particularly strong need on that team.

    If you are still improving, you have some time still, and I agree, you probably want to make your first contact with your best times.
  • jmtabbjmtabb Registered User Posts: 192 Junior Member
    planit - thanks for your input! Yes, I love that phrase - walls are my daughter's friends too.

    Glad to hear that while it feels like we are coming to this a bit late we're not completely out of the game at this point. We weren't expecting to be doing this but she's make some incredible progress this spring and she got inspired at a high level long course meet the team attended a couple of months ago.

    Our big challenge is that until swimming became a factor in where she wanted to go, she was looking at larger selective D1 schools on the West Coast or in the Northeast and preferably in an urban location. But there's no way she can swim for those schools (Some that were on her list don't have any swim team at all!) and it feels like we're starting from scratch to find schools with the top notch academics her grades would point us towards that also have swim teams at the DIII level that's appropriate. I keep talking up places like Cal Tech, Cal Poly, Claremont, Pomona where she would fit in well swimming and her academics are a decent fit but nothing is connecting for her yet besides MIT.

    <sigh> I think fleishmo6 is right - this is the important year swim-wise. And it's a huge year academically too.
  • njfishermannjfisherman Registered User Posts: 51 Junior Member
    Check out www.collegeswimming.com. My college junior swam club and high school and thought he wanted to swim in college (he since changed him mind). If I'm recalling the correct website, he was able to register and input his times and see how he stacked up against actual college swimmers.

    It was a great "reality check" to see how he stacked up, keeping in mind that at 17 or 18 he was not directly comparable to 21 or 22 year old college seniors.
  • jmtabbjmtabb Registered User Posts: 192 Junior Member
    Yes, we're on collegeswimming.com, and also on lookforit.com to search out schools that are a match swimming-wise. All of the schools I've mentioned so far could be a fit based on her current stroke time and expected time drops from last spring (the relay times she had that don't count). We haven't upgraded to the paid memberships at either yet but looks like it's time.

    We've watched (and are watching) several team-mates go through this process, and speaking with their families have helped - but they're top D1 swimmers and it seems that the process, while similar, is a bit different for D3.

    And while she swam for the high school freshman year, she did not last year and is not planning to this year the team dynamics and coach were a poor fit and she's chosen to focus on club swim instead. Does not swimming for the HS team put her at a disadvantage?
  • gardenstategalgardenstategal Registered User Posts: 4,829 Senior Member
  • Darcy123Darcy123 Registered User Posts: 126 Junior Member
    I'm just barely beginning this process with my son. He's very interested in engineering, and we've started keeping track of schools with swimming and strong engineering programs. You might check out Carnegie Mellon, Johns Hopkins, RPI and WPI if she liked MIT.
  • MomtothreegirlsMomtothreegirls Registered User Posts: 148 Junior Member
    edited July 2017
    My daughter never thought that college swimming would be a real possibility for her until the beginning of her junior year. She had lots of big drops that year and realized that D3 swimming was most definitely on the table. She started contacting coaches in the beginning of junior year, before her big drops, but only the less competitive teams. Then when, over the winter, she experienced large drops in time, she contacted many more, and almost all were very responsive. Junior year is right on time for contacting coaches for D3, we found. She initially thought she was interested in large, possibly urban (and highly selective - she had top grades) schools too. Through her contact with NESCAC coaches she became increasingly enamored with a couple of NESCAC schools (and is very happily at one now, swimming away :) )
  • twoinanddonetwoinanddone Registered User Posts: 20,201 Senior Member
    She might like Colorado School of Mines, a D2 school, if she likes a STEM school. They like girls, they like when they are smart, and when they can swim fast.
  • planitplanit Registered User Posts: 158 Junior Member
    Emory, Kenyon, Denison and U Chicago are top D3 academic and swim schools that might appeal. Fordham is D1 and pretty generous with their swim money. I agree with the suggestion to look at Mines; they have both academic and swim money (since they are D2). Any interest in the service academies? All of these schools follow kids on collegeswimming.com. I highly recommend the paid membership; it is a bargain, as these things go.
  • jmtabbjmtabb Registered User Posts: 192 Junior Member
    Thanks everyone! Some of the schools mentioned have beeen brought up and we need to take a closer look. Kenyon has been dismissed because of location, and I'm not sure she has the times to swim there. It's so hard to navigate all of this and I really appreciate the suggestions - please keep them coming if you can think of more things we should be doing or schools we should be considering.
  • MAandMEmomMAandMEmom Registered User Posts: 1,409 Senior Member
    A girl on DD's club team is heading to Fordham in the fall. Tuition, room, board, and expenses all covered.
  • bestmom888bestmom888 Registered User Posts: 93 Junior Member
    "Does not swimming for the HS team put her at a disadvantage?"

    It may, depends on the other parts of her application. Does she have other activities that show that she works well with others and/or is a leader? Unlike club teams, HS swim teams are truly a "team". Like my DD said, she had no idea that swimming was a "team sport" until she joined her HS team. Also, my DD was worried that her "nerdy" profile (high GPA, SATs, 5's etc) might peg her as loner who is only good at solo pursuits such as studying and swimming. So being named to various leadership positions plus Captaincy certainly alleviates that concern.

    But if she is aiming for athletic recruitment exclusively, then qualities such as team player and leadership become a lot less important. They just want to know she can cut it academically, which sounds like it's not a problem.
  • jmtabbjmtabb Registered User Posts: 192 Junior Member
    She's also involved with the high school theater group - she's head of lights crew for their productions and volunteers her time to set up and teach the middle schoolers who use the high school stage for their production also. Plus, this summer she's added a job teaching lessons, and at her coach's request has started mentoring some of the younger kids on her club team.

    The misfit on the high school team was primarily due to the size of the team - 80+ girls with one 90 minute practice slot in a 6 lane pool. The coach refuses to make the team a cut sport and that's just too many kids in the pool at a time.

    We'll have some extended time with the club coaches in the next couple of weeks and we'll be getting their input on where to consider too.
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