Does Your Child Want To Swim In College?

By Elizabeth Wickham

If your child wants to swim in college there are several things for parents to consider. First—the most important question is—does your child want to swim in college—or, is this what you want?

This is a vital question to ask. Take some time to reflect on your own desires and talk with your swimmer. If your child doesn’t want to swim in college, don’t make them. It won’t work out well. College swimming is wonderful, but it’s a huge commitment. It takes time, sacrifice and is a whole lot of work—in addition to academics. The rewards are enormous, but there’s a lot of sweat and tears in exchange for the benefits.

If your child wants to swim in college, then, by all means, support them. There are many areas where we can help. Here are a few thoughts for parents about college swimming:



College swim teams are looking for great student-athletes, emphasis on the student. Make sure your kids are keeping up their grades throughout high school. A strong GPA and test scores will make a good impression with recruiting coaches. Every coach my child spoke with asked about grades right away.


Club Coach and Team

Does your club team have a track record of getting swimmers into college? Does your coach understand what it takes to have swimmers make progress at the next level? It can be helpful to have a coach who was former college swimmer and understands what is expected. Or, has coached at the college level. Also, your child’s coach will have a good idea on where your swimmer will have a good fit, swimming-wise. Club coaches can be helpful resources with college recruiting.



This is an area where we can be truly helpful. There’s so much information available on university and NCAA websites. Do the universities your swimmers are interested in have their majors? Plus, talk to parents with kids in college and find out about their experiences. Keep in mind that every individual is different, and something they may not have liked, your child may enjoy.


Be Realistic

I’ve read from coaches and sports parenting experts, that we often overestimate our children’s talents and abilities. We may visualize them at a university where they aren’t a good fit. By looking at results of conference meets in different divisions, we can get a realistic idea of where they may be recruited. There’s a college for every swimmer, although that doesn’t necessarily include scholarships.

What role do you think parents should have with college recruiting?

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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3 years ago

Confused by the parenting style that seems to be advocated by this author. It always seems to be centered on what the child wants or what the coach wants. For many families the parent’s desires are considered most important and that works very well for them.

College swimmer
Reply to  anonymous
3 years ago

Keep in mind that we’re talking about high-school age kids here. Do you really think a parents desires should be forcing a kid to make a 4-year commitment to swimming in college?

Just Another Opinion
Reply to  College swimmer
3 years ago

Where did he say anything about a 4-year commitment to swimming in college? Anonymous just griped about yet another article criticizing parental involvement, while observing that parents taking a prominent role works well in some situations.

Reply to  anonymous
3 years ago

Don’t forget about NAIA institutions, they can offer great experiences as well as academics.

Chester copperpot
Reply to  anonymous
3 years ago

Your mom swam in college

3 years ago

I love swimming. I really wanted my kids to love it and I really wanted them to swim in college. My kids however had different ideas. One likes to swim but hated competing and one loved competing and hated practice. In the end after a very difficult year I learned that what they wanted out of swimming was the only important thing for our family.

3 years ago

First club teams do not have track record of getting kids into colleges. Clubs do not get kids into college period. Coaches can help but the college process must be driven by the kids. If they aren’t mature enough to manage this process then maybe they’re not ready for college. By the way if my kids wavered whether they wanted to swim in college I would tell them to ditch it. If in doubt pass. The sport, at least for my super competitive kids, is way to hard to pursue if you are not all in. Both my kids ended up at Div 3 schools…very different educational and swimming environments but both very positive experiences because they selected what they… Read more »