There’s a total of 627 women’s swimming programs across the three NCAA divisions, the NAIA, the NJCAA and CCCAA. Finding which programs best meet your needs as a student-athlete is no easy task, and it’s just one of many steps you’ll take in the college recruiting process.
Luckily, NCSA can help you through each step, including the decision-making process, with our guide to women’s college swimming recruiting.
NCAA Swimming Recruiting Rules and Calendar
Recent changes to the 2019-2020 NCAA recruiting rules may change a decade-long trend of later recruiting in college swimming. Now that communication between coaches and recruits is prohibited before June 15 after the athlete’s sophomore year, college coaches believe that swimming recruits will begin committing to programs starting junior year. What does this mean for athletes looking to get recruited? Earlier commitments mean that student-athletes and their families need to prepare for recruiting, as scholarship money will diminish earlier in the process.
Swimming Recruiting Times
How do you know what college coaches are looking for in a swimming recruit? Using qualifying times for major swim meets and a strong understanding of college coaches’ expectations at each division levels, NCSA’s team of swimming experts created a guide to college swimming recruiting times. For example, most elite D1 women’s swimming recruits can swim the 100 Freestyle in 47.3 seconds, compared to swimmers at the D2 and D3 levels who clock in between 49.9 and 50.9 seconds.
The Recruiting Process
Take a look at the recruiting steps that all student-athletes and their families should take leading up to June 15 after their sophomore year, when college coaches can begin contacting recruits.
• Research swimming programs: The first step you should take in the recruiting process is to research and determine which of the 627 women’s swimming programs best fits your needs to build a list of prospective schools.
• Build a recruiting profile: A strong recruiting profile can increase your visibility and exposure to college coaches as they search recruiting databases to evaluate athletes.
• Create a highlight video: How can college coaches evaluate your technique and ability to compete if they don’t attend your swim practices and competitions? The answer is highlight video. Capture your technique and performance at swim meets in a highlight video for college coaches to review.
• Attend swim camps: Not only do swim camps allow you an opportunity to improve your reaction time off the block, stroke technique, transitions and race finish, but they also serve as a way to gain exposure to college coaches and explore campus.
• Contact college coaches: College coaches can’t contact you until after June 15 of your sophomore year, but you should start reaching out with an introductory email to express interest in a college swimming program as early as freshman year.
How to Get a Swimming Scholarship
Swimming is an equivalency sports, which means the NCAA sets a limit on how many full-ride athletic scholarships swimming programs can award each year. College coaches are given a scholarship budget that they can divide up amongst recruits and current roster spot holders. For example, if a swimming program has a budget of four equivalent scholarships, the coach can divide that budget amongst multiple athletes or give four athletes a full ride.
Fully funded teams can offer the maximum scholarship limit, while programs that aren’t fully funded have a more limited budget. When it comes to deciding which recruits will receive a scholarship, coaches generally prioritize student-athletes who have the potential to score the team the most points during dual meets and the end-of-season conference meet.
If you are interested in starting your college swimming career at a two-year college, the NJCAA and CCCAA institutions offer women’s swimming programs and scholarships. Recruits can then transfer to an NCAA or NAIA school and try for a scholarship package.
Read more: Women’s College Swimming Scholarships
Top Ranked Women’s Swimming Colleges
The NCSA Power Rankings identify the top NCAA and NAIA schools that offer women’s swimming programs. These schools are ranked based on factors that recruits and their families consider when selecting the right college fit, including cost, size, location and academics. View a fill list of colleges offering women’s swim teams.