10 Things You Should Know about College Swimming Recruiting and Recruiting Trips

To all aspiring college level swimmers out there, here are 10 things you should know about the college recruiting process.


You are allowed to contact any coach via e-mail at any time. This includes sophomores and freshmen. During that time, however, coaches are only allowed to send general info via snail mail. As a sophomore & junior, your job is to fill out recruiting forms of any college you are interested in swimming for. Be sure to fill out as many of the fields as possible, as accurately as possible. This will create a file of your information in the coach’s office.


“General correspondence” can begin any time after September 1st of your junior year. General Correspondence means that a coach can begin to contact potential recruits via e-mail. These emails will likely invite you to fill out a recruiting form on their website if you haven’t already. If you are interested in a coach who reached out to you, keep the contact going. Update the coach on your athletic and academic progress. The more you improve both in and out of the pool, the more they will want you. Remember: even though coaches are allowed to e-mail you, they are not allowed to call you. You are, however, permitted to call them. If they are able to answer, they can talk to you, but they are not allowed to call you under any circumstances, including returning a voicemail.


The summer following your junior year is when coaches are allowed to contact recruits via phone (July 1 for D-I, June 15 for D-II, no restrictive dates for D-III or NAIA).


If a coach is interested in you, they will invite you on an official recruiting trip. These give you an opportunity to stay over in a dorm with members of the swim team, go to class with them, and get a feel for what it would be like to attend the school. Official recruiting trips are typically paid for by the team, though policies are changing to increase the financial burden on a prospective athlete. Unofficial recruiting trips require the athlete to pay for their food and other fees while they are visiting, in addition to covering their transportation and housing costs. But remember, an unoficial trip can become official if a team so much as buys a recruit a hot dog. Coaches will often invite high school juniors to attend a more general Junior Day, which are often available to all prospective students, not just student-athletes. Official visits only allow a recruit to be on campus for 48 hours.


As seniors, athletes are limited to 5 official visits to Division I schools. Because Division III schools do not offer athletic scholarships, student athletes can take recruiting trips to an unlimited number of Division III schools, but only one official visit per school. As of last year, Division II now allows unlimited official visits by prospective student-athletes.


High school student athletes are not allowed to practice with Division I teams on recruiting trips, though they can use the practice facility as long as coaches are not present. Athletes can practice with Division II teams.


Rules about accepting compensation to swim are very complex. The NCAA rules were changed a few years ago and this area is still pretty gray. If a recruit has inadvertently accepted “prize” money they can usually return it and regain their eligibility. As long as money is given for expenses recruits are allowed to receive it. As you know FINA has also started to sponsor swimmers from underdeveloped countries by paying for everything including extra living expenses, which is allowed by the NCAA. When in doubt, seek out advice directly from the NCAA.


Once you have received your athletic scholarship details, you may decide to sign a letter of intent. This binding agreement commits you to attend the university and swim for their team, receiving the amount of scholarship money you have been given.


Once you have signed a letter of intent, you are allowed unlimited contact with your future coach.


Before the signing periods, an athlete may verbally commit to a college or university, however, verbal commitments can be broken.

Although it can be overwhelming, remind yourself that whatever happens, you will end up at a school where you can excel academically and athletically. Have fun when choosing the best place for you. You are preparing for what has the potential to be the best four years of your life.

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6 years ago

Great advice on NLI day 😉 Good luck to all new signees

Reply to  Terry Turner
6 years ago

The statement that, “D-III schools are technically not allowed to provide official visits.” is incorrect. D-III schools are allowed to provide official visits and pay for prospects expenses when visiting campus. If anything, the NCAA is beginning to move in the opposite direction in its rule changes with looking at allowing official visits to begin earlier on D-III campuses, (junior year) etc.

6 years ago

Are highschool seniors allowed to practice with Division II and/or Division III teams?

Reply to  Markster
6 years ago

Not DII. Not sure about DIII.

Reference: I went to several recruiting trips to DII schools as well as swimming for a DII school.

We did play water polo with recruits occasionally but that was voluntary during the offseason.

Reply to  Markster
6 years ago

I don’t know the answer as if its “legal” but I know during 2 a days we had a girl on the teams sister come and join us for a day or 2. but whenever we had recruits at D3, we would always have an open pool time and most of the time we would take the recruit and swim just some.

Reply to  Markster
6 years ago

According to my research, I believe it is allowed. They only specified about Division I teams on the NCAA website.

6 years ago

On your official visits and stays with the team: DON’T feel pressured to do anything you are uncomfortable doing (staying out late, out at night in a big city/rural town you don’t know, partying, drinking, etc). In fact, make your intentions clear ahead of time, to both the coaching staff and hosts. Ask, in SPECIFIC terms about the details of the overnight stay: What’s the plan? Who are my hosts? Are we seeing a basketball/volleyball/wrestling/football game? What other entertainment is going on (movie night/video game tourney/spirit bags and decorations for the locker rooms/on-campus music festival?). What is your policy and expectation for visits, both from the hosts and the recruit? Ask the important, honest and tough questions, and expect honest… Read more »

6 years ago

According to my research, it is legal. They only specified about DI teams on the NCAA website.

6 years ago

Three more pieces of advise:
1) Pay attention to the academic side of things on your visit. While it’s easy to get wrapped up in the excitement of the swim team, you are ultimately there for school. Also, the coaching staff may change by the time you graduate (or even by the time you arrive on campus), so don’t make your decision solely on that. The team will definitely change by the time you get there, so while team chemistry is important, remember that the people you will likely be closest with, your class, you won’t meet until you arrive on campus for your freshman year.
2) I would caution against drinking on your recruiting trip. Trips can… Read more »

Reply to  dmswim
6 years ago

That should say “advice” not “advise.”

6 years ago

For what it’s worth, #4 isn’t exactly right (no set days, meaning it doesn’t have to be on a Friday) and #5 is wrong (DII allows unlimited official visits).

And well, #7…that can be remedied, apparently…

Rick Paine
Reply to  DrSwim_Phil
6 years ago

DrSwim Phil, last year D-II passed a new rule allowing recruits to take official visits to an unlimited number of schools.

Gary Kinkead
Reply to  Rick Paine
6 years ago

As a Div. II coach I am aware that high school students DO have the opportunity to have unlimited official visits to Div. II schools. That statement is correct.

Reply to  Rick Paine
6 years ago

Yes, that’s what I’m saying. The author must have edited the wording of #5 after my post.

College coach
6 years ago

I think some other great advice (especially for parents) revolves around scholarship offers. Most parents ask me how close their kid can get to a full athletic scholarship. There usually isn’t the realization that a fully funded men’s and women’s team get less than 10 and 14 scholarships, respectively. With 25-30 kids on each team, the scholarship money is hard to come by in large chunks. I’m not saying you can’t get a large scholarship because you definitely can, but just be aware that the scholarships the team has are not only going to your child, but the other recruits, and is tied up in current team members. Just something to consider.

Reply to  College coach
5 years ago

IMy son is just being recruited and we are scheduling his first OV, he is a diver and I’m wondering when coaches expect him to sign a letter of intent? State for UIL is in February and I feel like his place there this year may make a difference. Wondering if we can wait that long. Thoughts?

Reply to  Dawn
5 years ago

Hey Dawn – it’s a very tricky question. Different coaches have different opinions. Some will want him to commit within 48 hours of making a visit (similar to the tactics of car salesman – try and capture the emotion of being on campus). Other coaches will want to wait and make sure they’re getting the right athlete. Diving is even more unpredictable than swimming because different programs allot their diving scholarships differently. If the goal is to “get on the team he wants and then earn a scholarship down the road,” then you’re probably more apt to wait until February. If the goal is scholarship money, there’s definitely far, far less of it available in the spring than in the… Read more »

6 years ago

If juniors can email and call coaches, but coaches can’t return call why wouldn’t recruits “schedule” calls with coaches via email? Seems like a win/win for both sides if there’s mutual interest?

How many programs have recruits stay in the dorms during recruiting trips? Makes a lot of sense to get a realistic pictu

About Bryana Cielo

Bryana Cielo

Bryana Cielo Shortly after Bryana Cielo’s birth, she developed her love of water at her family beach house–and hasn’t stopped since. At the conclusion of her swim lessons at age 7, it was recommended that she try out for the local summer swim team. After her first season, she won the …

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