4 Tips For Swim Parents About Recruiting

Courtesy of Elizabeth Wickham

Its a once-in-a-lifetime exciting timehaving your swimmers recruited by colleges. At this point in their lives, choosing a college is the biggest decision theyve ever made. How can you help and support your kids, without taking over?

ONE

RESEARCH

Parents can help with the process by researching what division and conferences would be a good fit for their swimmers. There are many resources for research including collegeswimming.com and each schools website. If your swimmer can score points in conference meets, theyll be desirable to coaches. Also, Ive heard from top coaches theyre looking for swimmers who can score in three events, plus possibly make a relay. After you help your child with research, together you can make a list of prospective schools.

TWO

MONEY

Be upfront about what your family can afford for college. Imagine if your swimmers number one school recruits them but it has a $65k-a-year price tag. Then, what if the University offers a small scholarship and you cant afford to have your child attend. How disappointed would your child be to learn that its not an option? Having a discussion about money early on will help make the recruiting process easier for both of you.

THREE

COMMUNICATION

After youve made a list of colleges with your swimmer, have your swimmer fill out online athletic questionnaires. The next step is to encourage your kids to email coaches and let them know theyre interested in attending their university and being on the team. They may want to give specific reasons why theyre interested and also ask questions of the coach like what times are needed to be part of the team, what they are looking for in their swimmers, etc. I know how busy kids are at this time in their lives, but please dont do this step for your kids. The coaches want to hear from the swimmer, not the mom or dad. If a coach reaches out to your swimmer, and your child isnt interested, have them tell the coach right away. Coaches are incredibly busy, too, and its not fair to waste anyones time. When coaches call, make sure your swimmer returns calls promptly.

FOUR

WHEN THE PHONE DOESN’T RING

Ive had several parents tell me their kids werent getting emails or calls from coaches. They were feeling stressed and panicked. My advice was to cast a wider net. Go back to researching schools in a different division or conference than where they started their search. Encourage your child to be proactive and reach out to more schools. Also, consider waiting until Spring to make a decision and theyll have a little more time to get faster times. Another option is to stay with your club team during their freshman year and take requirements at a local community college. This will give your child another year to mature, plus get stronger and faster.

How do you think parents can help in the recruiting process?

Elizabeth Wickham volunteered for 14 years on her kids’ club team as board member, fundraiser, newsletter editor and “Mrs. meet manager.” She’s a writer with a bachelor of arts degree in editorial journalism from the University of Washington with a long career in public relations, marketing and advertising. Her stories have appeared in newspapers and magazines including the Los Angeles Times, Orange County Parenting and Ladybug. You can read more parenting tips on her blog.

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10 Comments on "4 Tips For Swim Parents About Recruiting"

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All good points. Two top things compare times to conference times as well as cast a wide net as you suggested. Our swimmer is a freshman this year in a DI program, but started contacting schools right before Junior year- just to get on a watch list. Send updates to schools on new times achieved, or even to comment on how well a team did at a meet. Also to let coaches know what meet the swimmer was going to be at- if it was a club championship or state level meet our swimmer wanted to make sure to let them know they were in the meet in hopes to get them to watch them as well. Look at times… Read more »
FLSwimparent

Good, realistic article! Grades and ACT/SAT also very important – they can help your student earn merit scholarships, which may be worth more than Swim scholarships. And enjoy the college visits – official and unofficial! Also, make sure the college offers the major your student is interested it, or has a wide selection if undecided.

Strongly consider allowing your kids to go on official visits on their own. it is so important for them to experience the travel and the experience of beginning autonomy. You can always go visit together later (or earlier when you are doing unofficial visits).

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