Colleges? If I’m Good Enough, They Will Come

Contributor, Rick Paine, is a friend and an expert on the college recruiting process.

So you picked up a Junior National cut and now you are waiting patiently by the phone for the college coaches to start calling. The first few days are exciting every time the phone rings because you just know that a big time college coach is only a phone call away.

After a few days of only receiving a couple of calls from schools you are not interested in, you start to worry about why the phone has been silent.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Do the college coaches know about me?
  • What do they know about me?
  • How did they find out about me?

You must have a plan if you want to find the right fit for a school and swim program. You have to determine how to contact the coaches and what to send them to get them to look at you.

Don’t count on just completing an online questionnaire to put you solidly in the recruiting pool (no pun intended). College coaches are very busy these days and many schools just don’t have the manpower to go though every questionnaire they receive. YOU HAVE TO SELL YOURSELF.

College coaches do look at times first to determine if you can help them in the pool. The very next thing they look at is your grades. You need to get the coaches to look at your grades and test scores and your best times (not all of your times, just your best).

One of the most important things you need to do is to determine some areas of academic interest and at what level can you swim at in college. It wastes everyone’s time when you chase a school that you are not qualified for. Remember from last month’s article, for most swimmers there are no clear cut differences in swimming at the D-I, D-II, D-III, NAIA and Junior College level. There are excellent coaches and programs at every level.

You can get a huge advantage if you can get someone like your coach to paint a picture of your potential and send that to a lot of college coaches.

Don’t count on “if I am good enough, they will come.”

Here are a few NCAA rule changes that every potential recruit needs to know.

Official visits:

Old rule– visits to D-I and D-II programs were counted together and a swimmer could only take official visits to 5 schools.

New rule– swimmers are still limited to official visits to 5 D-I schools, but are allowed an unlimited number of official visits to D-II schools.

Visits to D-III, NAIA and Junior Colleges remain unlimited.

Phone calls:

Old rule– D-I and D-II coaches were allowed one phone call per week starting July 1 for D-I and June 25 for D-II coaches after your junior year.

New rule– D-I coaches are still only allowed 1 call per week beginning July 1 after your junior year, but D-II coaches are now allowed unlimited phone calls on June 15 after your junior year.

Phone calls from D-III, NAIA and Junior College coaches have no restrictions. Also, military academies can make phone calls to recruits prior to the July 1 and  June 15 dates.

If you would like to find out if you can swim in college and at what level, go to www.ACCrecruits and submit a Free Profile.

Connect with AMERICAN COLLEGE CONNECTION here and see if you have what it takes to swim in college.


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I decided I wanted to swim in college after a career-ending football injury my senior year of high school. I was lucky enough to have a connection to Rick through my father’s old coach and Ricks former colleague Cal Bentz. I had plans to play football at the D-I level, so naturally I thought I should swim there too. Rick helped me realize that I wouldn’t make it one semester at that level because I had only swam for three years. He pointed me towards D-II and D-III schools. Ultimate I settled for D-III and it was the best choice I have ever made. I was able to develop to my full potential and be a National competitor, something that… Read more »

Thanks Ben, you are one of the great success stories……………………….from football player to Olympic Trial qualifier………………….at a D-III school!

Swim Ma

Good info Rick.Great article.Please keep them coming.The whole recruiting process can seem overwhelming.I was at a meet in Ft Lauderdale this past week and overheard some Swim Parents talking about their swimmers and the recruiting process.Their swimmers were so worried because they had not been called by the teams they were hooing to hear from and specifically from the Head Coaches.In an Olympic Year aren’t many of the Coaches very busy with the Olympics, Like Coach Troy and Coach McKeever?If so should these swimmers be worried tehy have been overlooked or just wait until after the Olympics for the phone to start ringing?

Swim Ma makes a great point. Coaches are very busy especially in an Olympic year. I know Gregg started planning for the amount of time it would take to be an Olympic Head Coach as soon as he was named. He is fortunate to have great assistants who could help run the college program. The days of a college coach just being a coach are long gone. Most of them have a “business” to run and administering that business take a great amount of time. Plus many of them run swim camps during the summer and very few programs have the luxury of having a large staff.


Biggest takeaway- you must be proactive. If a program you like has not called you, email the head coach AND assistant saying you are very interested in learning more. (be sure to look at the times on the team to make sure you are a viable fit there). Include your best times LCM and SCY in your best three events, gpa, test scores, and most importantly your phone number and best time to call.

CALBEARFAN is right, you have to be proactive, but you can’t just compare your times with a teams’ times. Coaches are not looking for times that they already have. They are looking for swimmers who can score in in 3 events at their conference championships. Be sure to check the conference results. Be sure to include your year of graduation right up front so coaches know when you are available.

About Gold Medal Mel Stewart

Gold Medal Mel Stewart

MEL STEWART Jr., aka Gold Medal Mel, won three Olympic medals at the 1992 Olympic Games. Mel's best event was the 200 butterfly. He is a former World, American, and NCAA Record holder in the 200 butterfly. As a writer/producer and sports columnist, Mel has contributed to Yahoo Sports, Universal Sports, …

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