Recruiting for D3 Swim?

Hello All,
Newbie parent here… I have read numerous CC posts full of great information and everyone is always super helpful! Thanks in advance for any advice you may be able to give me.

My S2021 is a good student at a highly competitive public school in CA. He is interested in swimming in college if it will help with admission into a highly selective school, such as the Pomona, CMC, Amherst, Williams or Middlebury. Otherwise, he would probably just attend a UC school in-state and retire from competitive swimming.

Here are the details (hopefully the GPA and swim times will improve a bit after Spring semester and our HS league championship meet):

-Sectional Level Swimmer
-GPA- UW 3.8, W 4.2
-ACT - 35
-2 APs in Soph yr (passed with 5s), 4 APs in progress in Jr year
-Varsity swim athlete, Fresh & Soph, Co-Team Captain as Soph
-No time for many other ECs other than some volunteering through a local Boys Team Charity chapter, due to club swim commitments

I’ve done some research and it looks like his current times would put him in the B final in the SCIAC or NESCAC conference championship meets

He has filled in some recruiting questionnaires and appears to have been added to the general distribution list for a few of the schools. We have scheduled one meeting with a coach at one of the target schools next month.

Based on the the above, is it realistic for him to be recruited at one of these schools? Aside from improving grades and times, are there other things he can be doing to make him a stronger recruit? Should he try to squeeze in an internship this summer - would it help? Also, does it help to signal that we would be willing to attend without financial aid (or does this only help in the D1 scenario?)

Thanks so much!

I know soccer; but for the nescacs those grades and scores are good. I doubt letting them know your full pay status matters at those schools, although it can at others. The coach at Bates, for example, said it was a factor for him (it sounded like he had a budget he had for FA, so if one recruit was full pay, that meant he could take another financial aid recruit or two).

The thing that’s going to get a coach excited is the sport, especially once they know the recruiter’s grades/scores are in range. Others will need to chime in on the swimming part.

Good luck!

Sounds like you are on the right track. Your S’s academic stats will likely be good enough at all schools, being full pay will generally be an advantage. I suggest casting a wide net and being open to more schools…the funnel will tighten quickly this summer/fall.

D3 recruiting has fewer rules and restrictions than DI/II. Here are a couple of NCAA links:

If your S doesn’t have an account at college, that would probably be helpful.
Convert any times you need to here:

I encourage you to make a recruiting video, they can be helpful even in individual sports measured by objective times…it shows technique that the coaches like to see, and it gives your S another reason to contact coaches. Have your S create a twitter account and pin the video at the top. Follow coaches, programs, and athletes as applicable. Re-tweet their tweets. Follow same on other social media channels as well. Obviously don’t say or do anything controversial.

Make sure your S researches each team in his current events. Note the year and time of these athletes in particular…this will help figure out which coaches are likely to have a need in his events.

Stay in touch with the coaches and send them updates as applicable. It’s a balancing act between too much and not enough contact. You will be able to gauge the level of interest by their replies (or lack thereof), and if they ask for a pre-read (this summer at most D3s) that will be a very good sign.

Good luck.

I also wanted to mention that if you can you should visit the schools on his list…just make sure the coach will be around to meet with your S. Many D3 schools do not have the budget for Official Visits, so the travel is typically on the athlete’s dime.

-Fill out the questionnaires. We created a college search specific email for this and my D, Spouse, and I all use it. Often my D doesn’t have time to cast the wide net.

  • Follow up with a generic intro email addressed to the coach with his times, grades, and a short bio. Personalize each one by using the school name and mascot or some other detail. We maintain a master google doc with the colleges and all of the contact we have made.

    -Update every month or so with new best times, grades, or ECs.

Some schools respond immediately and it’s obvious the coach read our email. Other times it’s crickets. Showing interest like this matters when they’re deciding which swimmers to invest time in. These teams have small staffs and budgets, so recruiting is something they struggle with. Make it easy on them.

My D has similar times in the conference championship, and so far has garnered a decent amount of interest from high academic schools. That doesn’t mean she has a spot or anything, but she is making progress.

There seems to be something about being full pay at most NESCACs, but I’m not sure the level of importance. It’s been asked by a lot of coaches early in the process.

Hello, and most of all good luck
I have had two boys swim/go through the recruiting process with NESCAC teams. I cannot say enough about the academics and athletics in that conference.
Filling out the recruiting sheets at each school is great. However, also email the head coach and asst coach from each school. Just a nice hello, brief intro and a few of his best times along with gpa and any board scores.
Easy to see where your son fits swim wise. If you will be visiting mention the dates you will be there and ask if you can introduce yourself.
Your son wants to be on the coaches radar, so he can get an invite to a recruiting trip. Mention interest in that during the email
As I said best of luck and any questions please ask.
Bitter sweet for me as my second son will be swimming in his last conference championship next month and that will be 8 straight years going to the same pool for meets.
Thank god my youngest is a freshman swimmer but not at a NESCAC as I am not ready to stop being involved in swimming lol
Enjoy the entire process

Wow, thanks everyone for your advice and words of encouragement! We have already completed the questionnaires and sent follow up emails for the target schools and have received various levels of response from Coaches.

We are in the process of scheduling unofficial meetings for those that are close to home. Will also try to schedule an East Coast trip during the Spring, as at least one NESCAC coach has indicated that he “would welcome the opportunity” to discuss his program. I know that does not mean much, but it would be great to just get the experience and also a great excuse for a vacation!

Also, we setup a account and another LAC immediately reached out which we had not even considered, so that was great advice. Also, great idea to create a swim video - didn’t think that was as important in this sport, but @Mwfan1921 you have a great point about technique.

This is a whole new world for us, so thanks to veterans like @fleishmo6 and others for the support! Really, we just wanted to get a feel for whether he had a chance, as he is not the strongest student or swimmer in this area. We’ll make a run at this and see where this goes… Cheers!

My S19 looked at a few of the LACs that you are considering. You mention Pomona, CMC (CMS?), Williams, Amherst, and Middlebury. The first 4 are top D3 swim programs currently ranked in the top 21 D3 programs. While Middlebury is currently the 8th ranked team (out of 12) in NESCAC. Middlebury has a gorgeous pool but they are not a strong swim program. But could be a great choice if you like the college and being a top swimmer.

If you are considering Middlebury, maybe add Colby (building an amazing aquatic facility), Bates, Bowdoin, Connecticut College, and Tufts (bigger than all the other LACs) which would all be more competitive for swimming. Below Middlebury in the ranking is Hamilton, Wesleyan, and Trinity. Each LAC has it’s own feel and finding the fit for your S2021 will be important.

If your S2021 is willing to be a big fish in a small pond or to help grow a swim program, you could also look outside the NESCACs and add Grinnell, Carleton, Swarthmore, and Vassar as strong academics with growing swim programs.

Or if you are looking for a more preppy environment, maybe add Colgate.

I agree with @mwfan1921 to make sure to look at the year of the current college swimmers and just committed swimmers (see, and when they will graduate to try to see if the coach will be recruiting S2021’s stroke/distance that year.

Definitely cast a wide net as you never know where you are on a coaches recruit list until you are offered a slot/spot; an OV doesn’t mean you will get a slot. As your S2021 will be the one communicating with coaches via email and phone, it can be hard for teenagers to gauge the interest of the coach so make sure you try to temper their enthusiasm with reality checks.

Good luck with the process. It is a wild ride.

@swimmom1922 Thanks so much for the thoughtful insight into these programs. Will definitely check them out. The other consideration is that he has an interest in computer science… anyone have any thoughts about the best NESCAC for this major? Thanks!

I know Williams has an excellent cs program.
From rankings it looks like Pomona and Bowdoin are good as well.

Thanks @one1ofeach!

I have a NESCAC swimmer and can vouch for the conference as a whole. It’s a wonderful place to swim, and the academics are of course first rate. A lot of great advice above. Yes, be sure to meet with coaches on your tour. I would just reiterate that fit will be important. Williams, Tufts, and Amherst are fast and typically recruit (tips or slots) only D1-caliber swimmers though are happy to welcome kids who can get in on their own. Also, there are varying levels of support.

If I had a B-finals swimmer, I’d be looking at Middlebury, Bowdoin, Hamilton, Bates, and Colby. Middlebury has a gorgeous facility. And Colby has a new pool (soon to be completed) and will host the NESCACs in 2021. These five are great schools with solid but not exceptional DIII swim programs (actually, Hamilton’s is not very good, but it’s a great school). You should try to find one where your son can flourish.

Just a little personal experience, my son had a cohort of five fast club swimmers at his high school. They were all solid D1 swimmers (four had Winter Junior cuts and two had Summer Junior – all had NCSA cuts as sophomores), but, after just one year of college swimming, my son was the only one still on the team. Three went D1 and were overwhelmed with speed at that level. One went DIII but found one of the very few programs at that level where she was not competitive (did not make conference team). So, if swimming is important, then so is fit. Go to a program where you can find success.

Have you looked at Harvey Mudd? Great STEM and they are at very similar level as Pomona swim wise.
If Williams’ coach is interested in your son, he should also consider contact MIT coach, both schools’ conferences are faster than that of the Claremont schools. Tho I think his times (sectional) are not fast enough for these two schools to be invited for onsite visits.
Swarthmore is a good suggestion.

I know most if not all clubs have shut down the swim practice and he might not have another opportunity to drop time during his junior year, which is unfortunate.

All D3 coaches would ask you to apply ED to secure their support if they want you, and this need to be put into consideration. MIT coaches have the least weight among those I mentioned in the assurance of their support.

Good luck!

Hope everyone is staying safe and healthy. It’s coming down to decision time and I wanted to thank everyone for the helpful advice.

@fleishmo6 - Would love to chat with you for a few minutes regarding your NESCAC experience with your sons. I don’t think that I am able to DM you, so if you are open to it, would you mind DM’ing me? Thanks!