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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5 years ago

Also keep in mind official visits can be “dog & pony show” and current athletes won’t openly talk about crazy coaches. My daughter swam D1. Loved the school and the team. First coach fired by end
Of freshman year. Second coach only paid attention to his top 10 swimmers. The rest of the team wete always afraid of being cut. Awful environment! She decided to quit the team after sophomore year and never looked back. During the recruiting process we told her to pick a school where she wants to earn a degree because who knows what can happen to swim. Great decision! She had a recruiting class of 10, only 4 left.

5 years ago

How do college coaches look at the academic credentials of home school kids?

Elizabeth Wickham
Reply to  Qqq
5 years ago

Good question. I’ll look into it for another article, but I do know colleges have criteria in place for home schooled kids.

Reply to  Qqq
5 years ago

Realistically the ACT and SAT are the simplest and best techniques for homeschoolers.

College Swimming Guide
7 years ago

There are so many things to consider about swimming in college and swimmers have to really want to take on that commitment. My son is a freshman swimming at a mid-major D1 school now and juggling academics and swimming is a challenge. He loves it but has never worked so hard in his life. The most important thing is to find the right “fit” with the college, the major, the academic rigor, the swim program, and the teammates. Many swimmers say they know if it feels right when they take official visits to the schools.

It is helpful for high school swimmers to talk to the older kids on their club team about their experiences swimming in college and… Read more »

Life swimmer
7 years ago

I generally like the authors tips and alway read the articles since am a swim dad. However I swam almost my whole life in club, high school, college and masters. I can guarantee you that coaches are not always right, there is no perfect club and if we leave it all to the kids parents will be paying for their mistakes. I have yet to meet a successful kid swimmer who did not have parents that were highly involved in the process. No one knows your kid better than you. Sure parents need to learn that this is not their life, it’s the kids life. But parents need to be parents too.

7 years ago

Last year my daughter was recruited pretty heavily by D2 schools. We visited several and she never got “the feeling” of fitting in or having the strong desire to go to any of them. As her mom, I always felt she would be better off swimming D2 or 3. The last school she visited was a D1 school on the west coast about 5 hours from home. After the visit, she immediately felt it was a good fit. I know the last several months have been incredibly difficult for her with all the demands academically and athletically. Even though she is a little fish in a big pond I know in my heart that her experience so far has been… Read more »

7 years ago

I have two daughters, one that swims in the Ivy League and one that plays volleyball in the Ivy League. When it comes to swim college recruiting, it all starts with times. If you don’t have the times to score points in the year-end conference meet, you most likely won’t be of any real serious interest to a school. There is the odd exception, but a coach must believe you will ultimately help them score points at year-end. The next question is academic performance. If you fail to fall within the range of admitted students academically, you better be at the high end of the points scored at your championship meet and even that may not be able to help… Read more »

7 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… Read more »

7 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.