Courtesy of Mary Beckwith
1) What is your training philosophy? How do you construct and organize your practices/groups in practices?
This is usually fairly similar for every team. They will divide their swimmers into different training groups specific to events (i.e. sprint, distance, IM/Stroke). However, it is still smart to ask. It shows your interest in your training and how you will be able to reach your goals and help the team.
2) Is it okay if I have never lifted before? Will I go straight in to heavy lifting?
This is important to know for injury prevention reasons. Although most coaches’ start out teaching their swimmers the basics and technique needed for lifting, some programs expect you to have experience, which means you may want to begin lifting the summer prior.
3) Do athletes get their own dorms? Do we usually room with another swimmer or athlete?
This is just good to ask so you have an idea of what you surroundings will be. If you room with a swimmer, they will have a similar schedule to you and therefore there will be less concern of being woken up during those precious hours of sleep. However, some programs, especially smaller schools, prefer to integrate the athletes with the general student population, which has its perks as well.
4) (If speaking to assistant coach) What is the head coach like? Does he/she yell or do they have more of a calm personality?
You may get along with the assistant coach who is recruiting you, but that does not guarantee you will have the same relationship with the head coach. Ask the assistant coach and strive to find someone else who can offer some background on the head coach. It is always good to get second opinions.
5) Are there academic benefits (tutoring, ect.) provided for athletes?
These would just be added benefits to any program. Athlete tutoring can come in handy because it is easy to schedule and available for almost any subject. It is important for schools to graduate their athletes with similar GPA’s as their regular student body so these tutoring hours are often mandatory for the first year.
6) What kind of swimmers are you looking to bring in (i.e. distance, IMers, ect.)?
You may get lucky and be recruited to a program you never thought you could get to because they desperately need a swimmer that swims your best events. However, this also has a counter side and you may not be recruited at all by a particular team if they already have an abundance of athletes to swim the same events you would.
7) What are the goals you have for the team for the next 5 years? How would I contribute to those goals?
These are extremely important in assessing the coaches’ impressions of you and how you would fit into the program as well as their predictions on the growth of the team. For instance, if the coach said you would be one of their top swimmers all four years, then you can conclude you are above the normal caliber swimmer they have been able to recruit in the past, and they do not have much confidence in the growth of the team.
8) Does the head coach plan to stay at the college?
This is extremely important to ask. It is common for coaches to switch teams during your first year. Any change in coaching staff is a risk. The lack of consistency can hurt your training, so it is vital to ask this question.
9) Does the team get along/practice well together? Does the team do things together outside of practice?
The social dynamics of a swim team is often just as important as the coaching. You want to make sure a supportive group will surround you in order to have the best college swimming experience.
10) Do you have scholarship money available to swimmers? (A better way to ask this is “are you a fully funded team?”)
This is the most difficult question to ask and topic to discuss with a college coach. It may seem awkward and touchy, but when you begin narrowing down your options, it is a vital piece of information. If you are looking for a specific amount of scholarship money, you do not want to waste your time or the coaches’ time by speaking with a school that is not funded at all.
Asking these ten questions, whether it be on the phone or in an email, will drastically help you compare and contrast schools and eventually pick the perfect one for you. Happy Recruiting!