How to Make Sense of the College Recruiting Process: Never Assume

by SwimSwam 1

May 09th, 2015 College, News

Contributor, Rick Paine, is a friend and an expert on the college recruiting process. He is also the Director of Swimming at American College Connection. 

The recruiting process is tough enough to understand without guessing or getting bad information. Swimmers, coaches and parents create problems for themselves when they assume. I see this on a daily basis. A college coaches assumes that a swimmer is not interested in them because they didn’t send the questionnaire back in time or a swimmer assumes that a swim coach is rude and doesn’t want them because they didn’t respond their email fast enough. I have seen parents who assumed that their kid was getting full scholarship because they were invited on an official visit.

Here are some tips for avoiding some of the pitfalls in the recruiting process.

“I sent my information to Coach Smith and he didn’t respond so I assume that he is not interested.”

Never Assume. Recruits fall through the recruiting cracks all the time. College coaches get inundated with resumes and questionnaires every week and they just don’t have enough time to look at every one. Keep sending your info until you get a response.

“I called Coach Jones and left her a message so I assume that she doesn’t want me.”

Never Assume. Coach Jones gets a lot of calls each day. She may have very easily missed your call. A couple of years ago one of our swimmers called a coach and left a great message with everything but a return number. The coach didn’t have caller ID so he didn’t have any way of reaching this swimmer.

“I looked at the times on the school’s website and I see that Johnny would be their 2nd fastest breaststroker so I assume that will offer him a scholarship.”

Never Assume. Parents are guilty of this quite often. Most schools will post season best times, but many of them stop updating their times after the first semester. The parent is comparing their son’s shave and taper times to a school’s in-season unrested first semester times.

Make sure your times fit in with a team’s times. How do I do that? Check their conference swimming results. Nearly every team is looking for swimmers who can score in three events at their conference championships (at least top 16). Some of the Big Dogs are looking for NCAA cuts.

“Wow, Coach White offered me an official visit so I assume that they will offer me a big scholarship.”

Never Assume. There are a lot of schools that are willing to invest money to bring in a recruit on an official visit and have no intention of offering a substantial scholarship. The recruiting budget and the scholarship budget are not the same. Try to find out if a school is affordable before you commit to an official visit.

“Coach Sims offered me an official visit so I assume that everything will be paid for on the trip.”

Never Assume. Many college swimming programs don’t have the budget to fund the entire trip. A lot of coaches will ask the swimmer to pay for their own transportation to the school and the school will pick up room and board while they are on campus. Ask what the trip will cost before committing.

“Coach Brown sent me an email two months ago so I assume they will be calling me on July 1.”

Never Assume. An email two months ago is not an indicator that a coach will call. Don’t sit by the hone waiting for a call. Contact the coach.

“I filled out questionnaires at 10 schools so I assume that they will recruit me.”

Never Assume. Coaches receive a lot of questionnaires every week and usually they sit in a pile on the coach’s desk or in an electronic pile on the team’s website. Be proactive and contact the coach.

“I was contacted by this Division III school, but I am not interested because they don’t offer swimming scholarships.”

Never Assume. A number of our American College Connection swimmers swim at the D-III level and they are receiving a great education, great coaching and most to the time it is very affordable. D-III schools have many ways of making their school affordable. If you are interested in a school ask the coach what it would cost for you to attend.

One of my neighbors just told me that his daughter just got a full ride at the same school my daughter applied to. My daughter is faster, but the coaches barely recruited her. They must be bad coaches.”

Never Assume. One of the easiest ways to get thoroughly confused with the recruiting process is to listen to scholarship stories from other parents or swimmers. It is amazing how many supposed “scholarship offers” get inflated or are just downright untrue. I advise parents that when they are talking to other parents about the recruiting process it is a lot like playing poker…………………you never believe anything you hear and only about half of what you see.

To find out if the time is right for you to get started with the college recruiting process go to and submit a Free Profile Assessment.


American College Connection is a swimswam partner.


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5 years ago

The fall signing period has passed and my son was not ready to make a decision so has decided to wait until the spring. What is the process now? Do they need to apply to all possible schools? We are talking to a top D3 school but he is not convinced that is the best fit…confused.