Swimming Recruiting for Int’l Jr. Targeting Highly Selective Colleges

Which of the following selective D3/Ivy school (which don’t offer sports scholarship though they are D1) offers “Likely Letter” starting on 1st October? And what percentage of their class received LLs for athletes

U Penn

Carnegie Mellon
John Hopkins

All Ivy League schools offer Likely Letters to recruited athletes, as do several other schools including JHU and UChicago

For Ivy League schools, I’ll let you do the math. The denominator is class size. The numerator is ~200 +/- 10.


Hopkins does. DS application wasn’t complete until the HS got their recommendation letters in right around Nov 1 (this year), and the LL came about a week later.

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The number of LLs at a given school does not necessarily correspond to the total number of athletic recruits…rather it’s best to speak about the number of recruits/slots with full coach support. The Ivy League schools do send likely letters to some non-athletic recruits, and not all full coach support athletes get LLs either, although the vast majority do (the application must be submitted, and the staff can and do get behind, especially in the early round.) Athletes with ‘soft’ coach support generally don’t receive LLs, but can.

NESCAC schools are prohibited from sending out likely letters to athletic recruits, which includes Williams, Amherst, and Tufts on your list. Full coach support slots at NESCAC schools generally include 14 for football, 2 for each other sport….but that can vary from year to year and school by school.

I haven’t heard of LLs at any of the other schools on your list besides Chicago and JHU, and not all athletic recruits receive them at those two schools AFAIK. JHU is D1 for m/w lacrosse, so use NLIs there.

But not in the early round.

Do you mean that Ivy league schools only send LLs starting on 1st October for athletes, but starting at 1st January (guesstimate) for non-athletes

Athletes will receive Likely Letters beginning October 1st.

The very very few Likely Letters that go to non-athletic recruits are sent beginning in February.


Thanks much for your detailed response.

From the broad numbers, Dartmouth has ~4100 undergraduate, ~1,050 freshmen, ~260 new athletes/annum. Do all of them get LLs?

More precisely, if Dartmouth’s women swim team has 15 swimmers, would that translate into 3-4 LLs per annum for the swim team/coach?

Most recruited athletes get likely letters. Some may not, although I am unaware of any examples.

Note that freshman athletes is not synonymous with recruited athletes. Ivy League regulations limit the number of recruited athletes to ~230 annually, but the actual number is determined by the university. Most Ivy are around 200. The difference is soft recruits, admitted without coach support, and walk-ons.

Roughly. 4-5 new swimmers is likely closer, since not all recruits play all 4 years. However, not all are necessarily recruits. The exact numbers per sport can vary annually based on institutional need. Keep in mind that Dartmouth tried to eliminate swimming a couple of years ago, so its future may still be tenuous.

Not all athletes on all teams are recruited, and not all recruits have full coach support (which are generally the ones that receive likely letters). The ONLY way to know how many slots the Dartmouth women’s swim team has in any given year is to ask the coach.

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I think there are a lot more than 15 swimmers on the team, but maybe the 4-5 number is correct for recruited spots for freshmen, and thus in the running for LLs. There will be walk ons and those who get ‘tips’ or whatever that school calls them (a list given by the coach to admissions on who he’d like to have on the team but he can’t offer a recruited spot to). Tips may get in by an early acceptance, but won’t get a LL.

Ask the coach. That’s the only way to know. And just because there are 5 spots this year doesn’t mean there will be 5 next year. Coaches trade them with other sports from year to year based on returning athletes, transfers, need of other teams, etc. One year the swim team may have 6 but the next year only 3. Ask.


expanding from your answer, it would follow that since Cornell is a much larger ivy school with 14500 undergraduates, 3625 freshmen, 1340 athletes (Cornell website), ~335 new athletes/annum, and an ivy cap of ~230 recruited athletes, ~2/3 of their athletes are recruited, ~1/3 of their athletes are walk-ons

Comparing Dartmouth (~90% recruited with LL) vs Cornell (~2/3 athletes recruited with LL), all other things being equal, it’s 50% more difficult to be recruited as an athlete LL at Cornell than Dartmouth?

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All other things are never equal.

Some years the college needs sprinters. Other years they need distance swimmers. Some years they need a butterfly specialist, etc. A competitive colleges may not have the same needs in the same year.


I thought MIT does not offer any likely letters. Everyone finds out the admissions decision on the same date for EA and RD

You are correct. My error for trying to write from memory.

You can’t figure things out this way. I wish it were so easy. What makes one program harder than another in any given year is a mix of how many slots the coach has, how many other recruits want that program as their first choice, and how many of the latter are better recruits than you. All those things will change from year to year.

As others have said, contacting the coaches to express your interest is the best path forward.

You can look at recruits from past years to see what marks they were getting as Juniors to see what the mix of recruits looks like. Keep in mind some of the slower athletes might be walk-ons.


For many programs you can get an idea on the number and level of past recruits from swimcloud. Maybe you can assume the weaker recruits got themselves in and were given a roster slot.

Dartmouth’s swim team is really a special case now. The team was cut then reinstated. I think they are on their third coach in three years? Most of their team are 1st and 2nd years. Presumably most upper classmen quit when it was announced the team was being cut. Its impossible for an outsider to figure out if they have more slots to make up for the losses, the same number of slots as before, or fewer slots because they team has been de-emphasized. I bet the coach knows, though.


thanks, absolutely agree with your comment that there will be differences at micro level for each spot/team in each university.

the comment about Cornell vs Dartmouth was a comparison at the macro level for sports LLs in comparing entire universities.

similar comparison could be made with Brown (large undergraduate enrollment, ~athletic 230 LLs) vs Dartmouth (much smaller undergraduate enrollment, ~230 athletic LLs), so it’s 50% harder to be a recruited athlete via LL at Brown than Dartmouth. However, it could be that for a specific team/position/year, it’s much easier to be recruited as an athlete at Brown than Dartmouth

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That’s only if more than 230 athletes want to go to that school.

If Dartmouth only has 230 spots and only 230 athletes want to attend, great, everyone gets a spot. Brown might have 600 or more going for those same 230 spots or it may only have 230, you never know.


More likely, if it’s swimming that you are looking at, it is harder to get recruited by Brown because you have to be significantly faster.

FWIW Ivies appear to have ~7 supported spots for swimmers.

But why the heavy focus on number of LL?