Swimming walk on

I have a D who got accepted on her own merit for Tufts University. Her time for swimming is about 1.5 seconds slower that what Tufts posted recruited time. My D is getting stronger and bigger. She is a very hard worker and both of her legs were broken and had to take 3 months off during the summer between jr and sr year. She had to practically start all over again. I have another daughter who went to a different D3 school and swim as 5th on the depth chart for the team when she got there. With the college training, she was the second fastest swimmer by the end of the first season.

My question is that can the coach stop from her walking on Tufts swim team and trying out or at least let her practice? Can anyone advise? Thanks.

Your D should reach out to the coach, if she hasn’t already, they are the only one who can answer these questions. Some schools do have mandatory tryouts, others don’t (I’m not sure about Tufts). It is up to the coach who is on the team, and who swims in competitions.


Your daughter may be able to try out, but a coach can absolutely set the rules. He or she is in no way obligated to let her walk on, practice with the team, etc.

Her times may be great and the coach may want to give her an opportunity and she could end up on the team, but the team may also be at capacity and he may not have enough resources (space, equipment, lockers, etc.) to even allow a tryout.

Each school will be different. Your daughter should contact the coach and see.


She did. She was told to get those recruited time. She swam at NCSA meets and there is an another person who did not even make the cut time for NCSA said that person is walking on and sadden my daughter. She would really like to have the coach to give her a chance so she can show what she can do

Club swimming in colleges will not make her faster or get same kind of training so that is not an option I think.

You said your daughter is 1.5 seconds slower than recruited times. In what event, big difference between 100 free or 800 IM.

100 and 200 Brest and IM

Of course. Their team, their rules.

She can certainly try out if they have open tryouts. But the coach selects the team and devotes their resources, including practice time, to those making the team


All your D can do is follow up with the coach, say she knows her time is 1.5 seconds off the target number the coach gave her, maybe say something to the effect that she’s still getting stronger after missing so much time junior year/summer, and she would like a chance to practice with the team this season to continue getting stronger/improving. That may or may not work if the coach already has women who are hitting those times, but there’s nothing wrong in having another conversation with the coach.

She should consider club swimming, especially since her times in her two events seem unlikely to lead towards competing at the varsity level…she has to ask herself if she would want to spend 30+ hours per week practicing and not see competition. Something to think about.


I’d recommend doing club if the walk-on route doesn’t work; it will allow her the opportunity to continue to compete, build her strength/endurance, and lower her times.


This is life.

The other swimmer may swim an event in which Tuft’s isn’t strong and the coach may want her regardless of whether or not she qualified for some meet that your daughter did. Her times may be relatively better compared to the team’s in her specific events. This girl may be younger with more upside, or may be on an upward trajectory, or may come highly recommended from a friend of the coach.

The team may be overflowing with swimmers in your daughter’s events who are all way under your daughter’s time. The coach told her the times she needed to meet and she didn’t meet them. I am sure she worked very hard and has had extreme challenges, but the coach may feel she had her chance and was unable to meet the times.

You may never know, but you can’t strong arm a tryout, and you absolutely can’t insist on walking onto the team or even practicing with them.


I have a family member that swims club at another school. Kids get out of it what they put in. We’ve been shocked at how fast the times are at the club meets.


The coach has no obligations to let her walk on. If she can’t practice with the team and has to do club, it could be worthwhile for her to approac the coach and ask for help in planning a training regimen to improve her times, noting the major setback she had. The coach may be able to refer her to someone for this purpose, may be willing to do it herself, or decline. Many teams are welcoming to walk-ons so long as they have the resources - pool space, coach time to devise individuals work -outs etc. Tufts has only one pool and it’s 6 lanes, so that’s a limitation in and of itself.


Thank you everyone for all the help. It has been very educational and informative. Thanks


One of the challenges with Tufts is the size of the team. It is huge and their pool is small. I really hope it works out for her daughter, bc making NCSAs with that kind of injury is pretty impressive.

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This is good advice. It can’t hurt and might help.

At the beginning of the summer, I had a conversation with a DI swim coach who has a strict squad size limit. They recounted that they are taking a swimmer onto the squad in the fall who had been denied a spot on the team as a first-year student. The swimmer spent the year swimming for the club team, improved and impressed the coach. It can happen.

Even if it doesn’t lead to a varsity spot, there are benefits to be had from club swimming.


I would definitely have her swim club and hit the weight room and see if she can start hitting those times. Maybe she’ll cross paths with the coach at the pool and introduce herself and start a relationship with them. What a history she’s had with TWO broken legs! I broke my tibia skiing last year and that injury is no joke.

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D24 met with the head coach at Tufts a few weeks ago exactly to discuss walk-on possibilities, and he was pretty categorical that is exceptional at Tufts, simply because they have a very small 6 lane pool, which means the team runs 3 2-hour training sessions everyday to accommodate the whole team. Their new pool will take several years to build, so the present reality will not change soon. The situation is very different for schools that have the facilities to be more flexible when accommodating walk-ons. All the best to your D, Tufts a great school where my daughter also isn’t fast enough, so she’ll likely join another school team


OP how tall is your daughter? Has she considered rowing? Rowing is a sport that usually takes a lot of walk-ons, often with no prior experience. Coaches love swimmers because they are dedicated and the mental game is similar.


If there is a limitation on walk-ons at Tufts, it’s not likely due to roster size. Looking at listed rosters for the past few years, Tufts has a very large one compared to other NESCACs: 42 on the roster this past season with 6 of those in diving, so 36 swimmers.Other NESCACs are typically in the high 20s.

With their graduate programs, Tufts likely does benefit as a destination for swimmers graduating from colleges who have an extra year of NCAA athletic eligibility, particularly with the COVID bonus.

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