Beyond the Pancakes: Braden Holloway on NC State Recruiting

In Practice + Pancakes, SwimSwam takes you across the country and through a practice day in the life of swimming’s best athletes. It breaks down training sessions, sub sets, and what every team is doing to be at their best. But why are they doing things that way? In Beyond the Pancakes, we dive inside the minds of coaches and athletes, getting a first hand look at why they do the things they do, and where their minds are pointed on the compass of evolution as a swimmer.

When SwimSwam was in Raleigh shooting Practice + Pancakes with NC State, we also sat down with head coach Braden Holloway to speak with him about recruiting at the college level. Many were wowed when, this fall, NC State received 4 top-20 verbal commitments from Junior boys in the class of 2021, all within a weeks of each other.

Coach Holloway speaks to the nature of early recruiting. Although it makes him uncomfortable, he mentions the positives of having 2 years to get to know your incoming freshman class. That can have a trickle down effect of the incoming classes already being accustomed to the culture by the time they arrive on campus, as well as give the coaches more knowledge on who they are as people and athletes.

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I’m curious to know what he’s telling these young kids to get them to commit a day or 2 after their trip. I hope that NC State doesn’t pressure these kids into a quick decision.


This is a common practice across the NCAA, try to get kids before they can take their other trips and broaden their horizons. Perhaps they do it more successfully, but they’re certainly not alone in this.

Aiden Hayes

Hello @jco this is Aiden Hayes one of those commits I can assure you it was nothing of the sort 😂


Aiden, welcome to the Wolfpack family!


Good luck Aiden!
But do realize that you will change in a year or two and your opinions about the school/team will change, for better or worse.
But that is true for most kids if not all. Congratulations!

Swim Parent

And they will continue to evolve based on experiences and personal growth through all 4 years as well…..that’s just life.


lmao, wet blanket

Swim Parent

Remember that these kids had a whole summer since June 15th getting to know these coaches via regular phone calls and text messages and since August 1st with practice and home visits. The swimming world is small and they also know a lot of the current swimmers from club meets and other recruits from meets, camps, and other visits. I do know the State commits were all on at least their third or fourth official visits (many together by coincidence), so they already had a good baseline for comparison before setting foot in Raleigh. Read the boys commitment quotes and they all talk about the team culture and feel…when you know, you know. No pressure required.


The same kids who dated and broke up with BF/GF multiple times? Lol.
It is not what you know that matters, but what you haven’t known.


Almost every single commitment post from every athlete to every school talks about “team culture”.

2 Cents

And mentions academics… and we all know that is not true across the board…


“when you know, you know.” except when you transfer quickly.

Arsenio Bustos

Lol nah if u think that ur buggin



Sam Hoover

I committed a bit over a month ago to state. My parents and I had decided that if I was going to get pushed to a commitment, that was it for that program. The appeal to go to state was the guys that they have on the team and the family culture they have. Braden is about as stand up of a coach as you will find out there and would never push a commitment from anybody. When you find home, you know it’s home and that’s what happened for me and the other guys.

David Berkoff

Good luck Sam. 🐺


I would have thought with Stanford such a power at the moment, particularly on the girls’ side, schools feel they have a “window” with top recruits. End of junior year feels a long time to a sophomore, but the lure of the Stanford degree (and, bluntly, its earning power) will grow stronger as kids move through junior year and the wait to commit there seems less interminable.


Stanford is not easy to be accepted. So for those who have the grades, they are more likely to be accepted with athletic prowess, but great athletes without grades, even though they want to go to Stanford, they can’t. So kids have to think if they are willing to wait to be accepted. That is the risk they have to take. But it would be rewarding for those who are willing to wait and got accepted. Stanford is a great school. I loved it when I attended there and would want my kids to go there if they do have a chance.

Swim Parent

Good news is all the committed athletes are (multi year )
Scholastic All Americans. So they had a choice to go we’re they wanted…
There is no doubt the athletes & families lived it made a choice!!!!


Just watched the clip of the practice. Great interactions between coaches and swimmers. That is Holloway’s biggest selling point.

Arsenio Bustos

They always forget I committed…

Swim Parent

Lol. WE remember you Arsenio. You’ll have plenty of opportunities to remind them. You missed the ‘within a week’ cutoff, but 4 top 20 in a week and 5 top 20 in a couple weeks are both awesome for the Pack! Any chance you guys play football too? I hear they need more help there.

Drew Jalbert

We don’t forget Arsenio🥺


Wolfpack Nation knows you’ve committed. Looking forward to seeing you swim in Raleigh. Good luck this year and next!


We are excited to have you, Arsenio! Wolfpack Nation can’t wait to have you join us in Raleigh!

CT Swim Fan

I like listening to him talk. The comments about his daughter’s Halloween candy and his wife telling him to grow up show me something more about him than just his ability as a swim coach. Seems like someone you would with total confidence be able to trust your son or daughter with for 4 years and not just in the pool.


Nope. Not this parent.

Swim Parent

@barney you just made Braden’s point from the video. His staff and program are a good fit for some and not a good fit for others. For those who don’t approve of him eating his daughter’s Halloween snickers bar, nope, not the place for you and maybe your kid. For the kids who committed and those who swim there happily now, it is.


he came while my daughter was there – turned the program around and was part of her becoming a rock solid student and person not to mention a much better swimmer than she was before he came. would trust him with any of my kids. stand up guy

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