Less Obvious Ways to Get College Coaches to Recruit You

Contributor Rick Paine is an expert on the college recruiting process. He is also the Director of Swimming at American College Connection (ACC).

ACC is a SwimSwam Partner. 

Parents and swimmers are always asking us what are some of the little things they can do to get coaches to recruit them?

The obvious:

Fast times

Great grades and test scores


Big feet

Start the recruiting process early (9th grade)

Less obvious:

Learn how to kick 

The average college swimmer can hold a set of 5 x 100 kick on a 1:30 interval (yds). Coaches are looking for swimmers who already know how to use their legs. Watch any race in college including the 1650 and you will see a 6 beat kick out of nearly everyone.

Guess what? You will swim faster.

Learn to turn

If you really want to separate yourself from other recruits learn how to use the walls. Watch a good college meet and you will see that much of the races are underwater.

If a coach doesn’t need to teach you how to turn it will help your chances of getting recruited.

Learn how to do a back to breast roll turn in your IM’s. Everyone in college does it, but very few club swimmers do.

Own the last wall of every race.

Develop your lung capacity in practice so that you can kick off the walls on your backstroke.

Learn how to race

College swimming is all about racing. That is what makes it so much fun. Coaches don’t expect you to win every race you swim, but they do want to see some “fight”. They want to see you respond at the end of a race when someone tries to pass you. Here are a few subtle things that college coaches look for in race videos:

Do you go to your legs near the end of a freestyle race? Do you use them to pick up your stroke rate when someone is passing you or you are trying to run down someone?

Do you pick up your stroke rate?

Do you really work that last wall and pull down on your breaststroke when in a race?

Do you really try to snap your hips and kick at the end of a fly race?

How far do you kick off the wall on the last turn of a backstroke race? Everyone can kick off the walls on the start and first few turns, but the real racers understand that the walls at the end of a race are what determines the outcome most of the time.

Develop a championship format

College swimming is not like club swimming where you swim 5 events a day plus relays. College coaches are looking for swimmers who can swim one event a day over the three-day format plus relays.

There are very few opportunities in a championship format for you to swim a double (two races on the same day). The most doable double is on the second day of the meet- 100 fly/100 back. The 200 free and 100 breast separate them so it does give the swimmer time to warmdown after the fly.

Typical Championship format-

First day: 500 free/200 IM/50 free

Second day: 400 IM/100 fly/200 free/100 breast/100 back

Third day: 1650/200 back/100 free/200 breast/200 fly

ACC Recruiting is a SwimSwam ad partner  Go here and learn more about ACC and their team of college swimming experts. 

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If you know how to kick, turn and race you’re probably fast already and have great chances of being recruited. So I don’t know what this article is about.


Yeah, not sure either. Also, let’s just pretend these 3 things are super relevant to being recruited…are kids supposed to bombard college coaches with videos of them doing 100s kick on 1:30??
The championship format point is a good one though.


Didn’t know trolls worked during the holidays!!!!!

Former D1 top 20 coach

Nice article Rick. I enjoyed it. I’d add positive ATTITUDE. Even the top recruits can sometimes have bad attitudes. If you can get the college coach to see that you see the glass as half full, work hard and are a team player, then you will be more noticed. Give me a hard-working optimistic swimmer with less talent over a very talented one with a bad attitude all day long! and if you can’t get an official recruiting visit to your top schools, then maybe take a road trip on your own and meet the coach on your own.

Rick Paine

Thanks Coach. You are right on the money about attitude. We try to teach our kids to express confidence and still be humble and respectful.

Fly girl

Loved article – reminds the ones recruited what to keep working on while still at club….

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