Myths of College Swimming

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

So, you want to swim in College? We intend to put together a series of articles to educate you on the frightening and mysterious world of college swimming and college recruiting. We hope to explode myths about the recruiting process and college swimming in general.

We are American College Connection, a group of former college coaches helping swimmers and their parents through the college recruiting process. I am Rick Paine, President and Director of Swimming, Jessica Berkowitz-Minier is our Assistant Director of Swimming and our other Assistant Director is Paul Stearns. Between the three of us we have nearly 50 years of college coaching and recruiting experience.

Enough about us. Let’s get started blowing things up.

The Division I myth:

Myth: If I don’t swim at the D-I level I am a loser.

Fact: There are no distinct levels in college swimming. The divisions are determined by size of the school, number of athletic teams and in many cases, the seating capacity of the football stadium. Swimming has very little to do with it.

There are approximately 500 four year schools that offer men’s swimming and 600 schools that offer women’s swimming.

If you looked at the top 50 to 60 swimming programs in the U.S. nearly 20 of them would be D-II, D-III and a few NAIA teams.

Myth: The best coaches are at the D-I level.

Fact: some of the best coaches in the U.S. coach at the D-II, D-III and NAIA level. Quite a few Olympians are developed at this level. And yes, there are many great coaches at the Division I level.

Myth: Scholarships are only available at the D-I level.

Fact: A little more than half of the D-I programs are full funded (have the full compliment of scholarships- 14 for women and 9.9 for men). Many have just a handful of scholarships to work with and there are quite a few who don’t have any swimming scholarships to work with at all.

D-II and NAIA schools are allowed to offer swimming scholarships.

Myth: D-III schools don’t offer swimming scholarships so I can’t afford to swim for a D-III.

Fact: Although D-III schools don’t offer athletic aid they have many ways to make school affordable for students. Many of them offer academic, merit and need based aid. Do you really think that everyone who attends a D-III school shells out $50,000 a year?

Myth: If I am not at least at the junior national level I am not fast enough to swim in college.

Fact: Only the top 50 to 60 D-I schools are able to fill their teams with Junior National level swimmers or faster.

The other 500 plus schools have to focus on swimmers with the potential to develop.

The least fastest girl we have been able to help at American College Connection was :29 and 1:04 in the 50 and 100 yard freestyle. She is currently in her sophomore year swimming at a D-II school.

The least fastest boy we have been able to help was 2:02 in the 200 yard free. He is the team captain at a D-III school in his second year.

Stay tuned for the second article exploding the myth: ”If I’m good enough, they will come?”

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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4 years ago

Wow, Thank you so much. As a highscooler living in Asia and trying to swim into a university in Canada/US, this is definetly one of the most helpful reasorces ive read about college swimming.

6 years ago

How old should your child be before you start looking at schools and utilizing a service such as this? My daughter is only 13 and has only been swimming about 18 months, but coaches all keep saying how she will definitely have a career in college swimming

7 years ago

I swam all four years of my highschool career, I wasn’t the best; struggling with a few strokes, but I have the determination to get better and improve all of my strokes. I’m a freshmen in college currently & would like to join my university’s team next year
(my sophomore year). Do I need to fill out recruitment forms? I am not sure how to go about getting on the team.
(my university is Division-1).

Kevin A-
7 years ago

Hello. I am looking for some info for my daughter who swims HS in Pennsylvania. She just turned 15 and will be going into 10th grade. She has been swimming for about 4 years. She swims summer programs and uses it as a relaxing period. Last year as a Freshman her HS program averaged 12-15K yards a week. Minimal from what I have seen for more serious programs. We have since moved her to a very competitive Y to train this year starting in Sept.
I have several questions:

1) Are you a recruiting service? What are the fees involved. Can you assist a swimmer in PA?
2) She is a backer with her… Read more »

7 years ago

I love all what i just saw now, and I would love to swim for division, please give me an opportunity to prove myself worthy of your scholarship and competition. Thank you.

Nicki Walsh
8 years ago

Just starting to think about swimming scholarships in the US (daughter as swum competitively since 10 years and is now around the top 27 the UK for 200 breast) the UK system does not acknowledge the need for early consideration and many Uk swimmers never make it past 9th grade as there is little incentive to carry on as success is variable during the teen years. Any advice from parents who have been successful in winning scholarships to the US from the UK. Or any advice from US parents what pitfalls to avoid and what about recruiting agencies?

Gerber .D. Theodorus
8 years ago


How are you doing today?I want to make some inquiries about Swimming Training,please let me know if your facility can accommodate 8 people and our propose date of arrival is 5th of january, We are coming from Republic of South Africa. I also need your reply on the below questions.

1* The number of number of people your facility can accommodate at once?

2* Your convenient time/per day to start the classes with the group?

3* Your cost of services per person?

I awaits your urgent reply because we would need your services for 6 weeks ok.

Gerber .D. Theodorus
189 Flower Street,
Capital Park,
Pretoria 0084
South Africa
Phone: +27734858218

8 years ago


So I am way past the recuiting phase. Before college I was recruited to swim and choose a state school but few years into college they canceled their program and I did not transfer. Being a senior in college now.. How can I get back into swimming?

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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