6 Reasons Why Your Kids Should Swim in College

by SwimSwam 13

July 09th, 2017 College, Lifestyle, Opinion

Courtesy of Elizabeth Wickham

When my kids started swimming, college was light-years away. I noticed many of our team’s older kids went on to swim in college—including top NCAA teams, small private universities and community colleges. When my kids got older, it dawned on me that we should check out college swimming, too.

One child decided to swim in college and one did not. They’re both doing great, but as a parent I see many advantages to swimming in college.

Here are six reasons why your kids should swim in college:

One – Opening doors

Applying to college can be crazy and stressful—even for the best and brightest. Many top schools and state universities have more than 75,000 applications for 3,000 or fewer freshman spots. It turns into a numbers game. Colleges can “flag” admissions for athletes. Being a swimmer can open doors, or at least add to their college resume.

Two – Transition

For kids leaving home for the first time, the freshman year can be tough. According to ACT, one-third of college freshman won’t return to their school for a second year! The pool is familiar territory for our swimmers. Going to practice every day and swimming will help with anxiety and homesickness.

Three – Support

I was amazed at all the support services athletes get that general students do not enjoy. Everything from preference for classes, required study halls, tutoring, athletic trainers to massage therapists and sports psychologists. Every school is different with how much support is offered, but knowing there is a support team around your child will make their freshman year easier for both of you.

Four – Loneliness

Moving away from home, knowing few or no other students, can be intimidating and lonely. It’s almost impossible for your child to be lonely with dozens of teammates to hang out with every day. When we moved our daughter into her dorm room, a bunch of smiling, happy swimmers came by with goodies and welcomes. Friendships develop quickly between teammates.

Five – Financial

Depending on the school and division, your swimmer may receive a scholarship. They’ll have a sense of accomplishment and pride after years of hard work. How many times did they say, “Sorry, I can’t. I have practice.” They’ve earned this reward.

Six – Four more years of swim parenting

Won’t you be thrilled to have four more years of meets, cheering for your child? You’ll meet new families and more swim parents to sit with at meets. If you’re lucky, you’ll see some familiar faces at dual meets and conference meets, too.

What other benefits do you see from swimming in college?

Elizabeth WickhamElizabeth 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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5 years ago

And most importantly (in my humble opinion), because he/she WANTS to 🙂

Ivy swim watcher
5 years ago

All these benefits of swimming (or being a college athlete in general) in college are great and mostly true (depending on the school).

I certainly encourage everyone to aim for the stars, but (to overuse metaphors) don’t hang your hat on it happening; have a backup plan (like good grades) because only somewhere between 3-5% of high school athletes actually go on to be college athletes. It’s not an automatic thing your child can necessarily simply decide to do. Some junior colleges or lesser DII or DIII program allows walk-ons, but very often even those teams have limited spots. And when it comes to DI programs, you basically have to be recruited (although there are usually a few walk-on… Read more »

Reply to  Ivy swim watcher
5 years ago

This is not accurate, or at least way too general. I have one swimmer at a D1 program, and one at a D3. Both have been a fantastic experience. But the notion that you have to be a Jr. National swimmer to swim D1 is crazy. Especially if your swimmer is female. As a parent, you can help your student with the selection process by learning about conferences and their relative speed. A VERY important consideration is where will your swimmer place in the conference swim meet. Look at results from the previous year’s conference meet and see if your swimmer can score points in one or more events. A big mistake is when swimmers come into a program near… Read more »

Ivy swim watcher
Reply to  swim_parent
5 years ago

Like you, I agree that one of the most important things (as I mentioned) is to look at where your child’s times put him/her on the team’s depth chart.

Another critical point is to look at what kind of swimmers will be graduating in the year before your child would start college and in their freshman year, as well as the swimmers recruited in the year ahead of them. If your son/daughter is a sprint specialist and the class ahead of them loaded up on sprinters, this will lower the odds of the coach being interested (unless your child is highly-ranked). However if your child is a distance swimmer and the team is about to graduate a good chunk… Read more »

Ivy swim watcher
Reply to  Ivy swim watcher
5 years ago

The NCAA states there are approximately 460,000 college athletes. Against the roughly 12.2 million college students under the age of 25, this represents only 3.7% of all college students.


DC Guy
5 years ago

All of these points are true.

As a Dad of a 4th year swimmer, swimming has really honed my daughters time management skills. There just is not that much time to goof off and get onto the wrong path. Yes, they get a lot of social time with teammates and others but it generally is in a positive atmosphere as morning practices serve as an automatic curfew!

Also, her newly formed resume shows someone who was able to balance full-time school, 11+ practices a week, lots of classes missed due to travel meets and even a part-time job on campus. Hopefully an employer will see someone who is a self-starter that they would like to have as their… Read more »

5 years ago

I agree that swimming in college is a wonderful thing! While you have to be pretty fast to swim at a top DI school, I would encourage swimmers of all speeds to look into swimming in college. There are teams out there for just about every level, with varying degrees of required commitment. Also, if you have your heart set on a big time conference school but aren’t fast enough to swim there, consider swimming club! Club swimming can still be fairly competitive (with a national championship every year) and it gives you that same swimming community.
As a caution about walking on, expect to be treated differently. It’s unfortunate that coaches do this but it’s the reality. You… Read more »

Mary E Medina
5 years ago

One other reason to swim in college is that your student also has to build a resume for grad school or for that all important first job. Your child doesn’t have to be fast… there are plenty of small D3 schools that welcome all abilities. Any student that can juggle the pressures of being a student-athlete are more desirable when it comes to choosing who you want in your program or at your company. There are plenty of smart kids available, but far less smart kids that can handle the pressures that their next step in life has for them.

Charlie Johhson
5 years ago

Great points that apply at many schools, but it’s never as simple as we wish.

While some coaches will talk to admissions about specific recruits, many prefer not to play that card often and some will honestly tell you their school just doesn’t allow it.

Prepare for change in training methods and attention to the individual swimmer as it’s likely no matter how strong a club program you came from that your college coach will have some different ideas about developing swimmers that may cause frustration even if your daily schedule is still familiar.

Academic support may not as strong as you hoped for if you are in a STEM major. If possible, try to find out if other team… Read more »

Jane Powers
5 years ago

I have a sophomore boy swimming for a DIII and my daughter will be joining a DI program in the fall. They both have been swimming since the age of 6 and while good, never where top athletes in the sport. But they both found amazing programs that they can find success in. My son had an instant group of friends just like he left back home thus making the transition to college seamless. My daughter is already in contact with her new teammates and looking forward to the fall. While maybe not everyone can swim in college, there are many programs out there in great schools that are accessible to many.

4 years ago

Why can’t articles be directed to the swimmers. I should think that I am not the only swimmer on this website.