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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Swim MA
9 years ago

We signed our swimmer up with American College Connection when she in 9th grade.Rick Paine was a phenomenal help with the process of recruiting and with many areas of High School Swimming.He explains things beautifully and My swimmer just finished her 4 year NCAA eligibility in a Top Swim Program with many honors.Rick Paine stays in touch with her today.
We highly recommend his program.He certainly helped take the uncertainty out of the recruiting process, and we have recommended many swimmers to him who have gone on to have successful careers at Division I and Division 2 programs.Great article Rick!

Rick Paine
Reply to  Swim MA
9 years ago

Thanks very much for the nice comments. We pride ourselves in staying with the swimmers and their parents until the kids finish college.

Terry Taylor
Reply to  Rick Paine
8 years ago

I know this article is more than a year old, but I have been trying to acquire information on swimming scholarships in my spare time. My 11 year old daughter is a club swimmer with huge potential ( 5’5″ and size 11 feet, great long stroke) and I would love to think she has a shot at some money for school. I have heard some nasty stories about kids who take money and those who don’t. One of my swim team parents swam at Maine and he would not take money because the coach leveraged it against the swimmers.

9 years ago

Couldn’t agree with this any more! D3 swimming was the best thing to happen to me. The schools are academically really strong while allowing you to continue swimming at a high level.

9 years ago

Please do not forget that there are plenty of NJCAA schools out there that also have scholarships available.

Rick Paine
Reply to  Coach
9 years ago

You are correct about the JC’s. Thanks Coach.There are several schools that have outstanding coaches and are competitive with many of the upper level D-I programs. They offer scholarships and provide an excellent opportunity for some student-athletes to get a couple of years under their belts before heading to a four year program.

9 years ago

Im sure this service would be great but my daughter and I did nearly everything on our own and got her on at a D1 team at a great( top 10) school with great facilities in a fairly strong conference She didnt start swimming competitively til age 14 and is only a NSCA Jr national qualifier( very versatile though and came along very fast in 4 years) but I think we got her about the best school we could.She really wanted the big university experience though , not just a D1 team, really.

Katrina Radke
9 years ago

We have referred clients of ours to Rick and they have done a fabulous job helping others.
Keep SHINING Rick 🙂

Rick Paine
Reply to  Katrina Radke
9 years ago

Thanks Trina. There are a lot of talented swimmers in Minnesota who go unnoticed by college coaches. Keep up the great work you and Ross are doing.

Inga Bateman
9 years ago

We signed our daughter up with Rick and were thrilled with the way he helped us understand the recruiting process.Sarah has just finished her 4 years at University of Florida and
it was a wonderful experience.We have recommended Rick to many of Sarah’s friends and people we know through swimming and everyone has been so happy.Several Swimmers had been told that they weren’t fast enough to swim in college, but Rick proved they could.
One young man we know ended up at an NAIA school and was the NAIA Champion all 4 years of his college experience.If he hadn’t found Rick he may have listened to his HS coaches and never had the College Experience and all the… Read more »

9 years ago

I graduated high school as a very mediocre/poor swimmer. Swam and made big improvements at a Junior College in CA and later transferred to a D1 school. There are many ways to pursue a career in collegiate swimming and anyone who dreams of doing so absolutely should.

Paul Stearns
9 years ago

We used Rick and ACC for my daughter. It was all about creating OPTIONS. Colleges that were never on our radar contacted her and, with Ricks’ help, she ended up at Ohio U and was a Mid-Major All-American HM and should be an Academic All-American.
I was impressed enough with ACC that I started working for them.

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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