The college search and recruiting processes can be a daunting process for swimmers. We have come up with a guide to help swimmers navigate this process and find a good fit.

The EDGE Swim Team’s Guide to Swimming in College


  • There is a place for everyone, key factor is how many “boxes” each school can check.
  • Swimming will open doors.
  • Be realistic in your approach and recognize that just because you can go to a school it doesn’t mean you should.
  • Try to limit making purely emotional decisions and avoid being impulsive. Sleep on things.
  • Ask for help and use the resources available to you.

Primary Steps to Prepare:

  • Work hard in school and get good grades.
  • Develop excellent study habits and become a true student-athlete.
  • Communicate regularly with coaches and teachers.
  • Maintain excellent attendance to all classes and practices.
  • Learn/Continue to be a great teammate.
  • Make smart choice concerning social media.
  • Recognize this is a marathon and not a sprint, practice patience and consistency.

What to Look for in a School:

  • Research fields of study and majors.
  • Find out the average entrance requirements.
  • The location, size of enrollment, and social life.
  • Cost of attending.
  • Conference Championship results. Where can you contribute?
  • Team’s history of improvement.
  • Team’s GPA.

Make a List of Schools:

  • Cast a very wide net in the beginning.
  • Include schools you are mildly interested in, very interested in, and that might be a “reach”.
  • List might be 10-50 schools initially.

Recruiting Dates, Rules, and Information:

  • Division I
  • Coaches may recruit at any time except during four-day ‘Dead Period usually in November.
  • Prior to June 15 after sophomore year: There can be no communication at all initiated by the coach or the athlete. During this time, a recruit can be sent materials such as questionnaires, camp information as well as non-athletic publications. College coaches are also restricted from having recruiting communication with your club or high school coach.
  • After June 15 following sophomore year: Recruiting communication officially begins, and student-athletes can expect to hear from coaches in a variety of ways, including email, text messages, social media messages and by phone. Student-athletes may also initiate the contact. Verbal offers and commitments are also allowed.
  • Beginning August 1 of junior year: Official visits to a school are now permitted. Men’s swimming recruits are allowed one visit per school and are limited to five total school visits. Off-campus contact is also permitted.
  • Senior year: College coaches may only make three off-campus contacts with the NCAA swimming recruit.


  • Division II
  • College swim coaches and recruiters may contact a recruit through the sending of questionnaires, camp information, NCAA materials and non-athletic collegiate publications at any time.
  • Starting July 15 after an athlete’s sophomore year, college swim coaches and recruiters may send other recruiting materials like camp information.
  • Starting June 15 after a men’s college swimming recruit’s sophomore year, a college coach is permitted to contact a recruit via the telephone.
  • The college recruiter may also make off-campus contact with the potential men’s college swimmer after June 15 of sophomore year.


  • Division III
  • As a freshman/sophomore, you may receive brochures for camps and questionnaires as well as well as recruiting information from D3 coaches. Coaches are also permitted to call you an unlimited number of times and you may also call them at your own expense. You are allowed to make unlimited unofficial visits at any time, but official visits aren’t allowed until after January 1 of junior year.
  • Men’s college recruiters may also make off-campus contact after your sophomore year.
  • Beginning on the first day of your senior year, you may make one official visit per college.


  • NAIA
  • There are no restrictions concerning contact with coaches. Student-athletes and coaches can contact each other an unlimited number of times.
  • There is no recruiting calendar. Recruiting is year-round.
  • All methods of contact with a coach are permitted, including e-mail, text, phone call or in-person.


Suggested Personal Timeline:

  • This is only a timeline. It is rarely ever too late to start this process.
  • Sophmore Year
  • Make a list of the important attributes you want in a school.
  • Fill out online questionnaires on the Colleges athletic website.
  • Email coaches your resume.
  • Register with the NCAA Eligibility Center at https://web3.ncaa.org/ecwr3/
  • Prepare and plan for SAT and ACT testing.
  • Have the “money” talk.
  • Junior Year
  • Narrow the list of potential schools.
  • Plan unofficial visits during long weekends or school breaks.
  • Take official visits. Can use up to 5. Save 1-2 for Spring or Senior year.
  • Don’t be in a hurry.
  • May receive an offer and give verbal commitment.
  • Senior Year
  • Don’t Panic! You can still do everything here as well.
  • Finish unofficial and official visits.
  • Narrow down your choice to 1-3 schools.
  • Signing Day.


Definitions and Terminology:

  • Unofficial Visit: Is a visit to a College or University that is not financed by the institution. Recruits may interact with coaches, team, and administrators. Do not accept any financial help for food, housing, etc. There is no limit to the number of unofficial visits.
  • Official Visit: Is a trip to a College or University that is financed by the host institution, including transportation, meals, and housing. The trip is limited to 48 consecutive hours on campus (may come early and stay at hotel). Parents may accompany their child at their own expense. Tip: Parents should probably stay home. Limit to 5 official visits total.


Scholarship Information

  • Women
  • Div I has nearly 200 Universities that have women’s swimming and diving programs with a maximum of 14 scholarships per team divided amongst the athletes.
  • Div II has over 80 universities with programs and has 8.1 scholarships per team.
  • Div III schools (over 200) do not offer financial aid for athletics.
  • NAIA offers 8 scholarships for their women’s programs.
  • Men
  • Div I has over 130 Men’s swimming and diving programs with 9.9 total scholarships divided amongst the athletes.
  • Div II has over 70 schools offering 8.1 scholarships for the athletes.
  • Div III schools do not offer financial assistance.
  • NAIA offers 8 scholarships for the Men’s programs.


Closing Thoughts:

  • Parents and coaches should help during this process, but the athlete needs to take the lead. 
  • Athletes and parents should be realistic about the outcome.
  • Find the school that checks your boxes.
  • Don’t compare yourself to other athletes. This is an individual journey :)
  • Don’t rush the decision.
  • Make the decision for the right reasons.
  • Ignore social media.
  • Enjoy the process!



Have Fun!