The NCAA has published a large set of data on student-athlete transfers, with total swimming & diving transfers dropping by about a third since the year 2004 for both men and women.
The NCAA has formatted the data into a really cool Tableau Viz (essentially a set of interactive charts from data) which you can find on the NCAA website here. Here are a couple key takeaways from a glance at the swimming & diving data:
Total transfers in swimming & diving have dropped from 7.3% among men and 6.4% among women to just 4.7% among men and 4.2% among women.
That includes parallel transfers from one four-year school to another, as well as transfers from a two-year school to a four-year school – most often, from a junior college to the NCAA level. The numbers are pretty similar when excluding those 2-year-to-4-year transfers. Check out the full data below:
In general, transfers in swimming & diving are below average compared to other NCAA sports.
For all sports, average transfer levels (4-year-to-4-year) are 6% for both men and women. Those numbers have seen a very slow decline on the men’s side and have remained pretty stable on the women’s side since 2004. The swimming & diving numbers listed above fall well under that.
The highest 4-4 transfers for the year 2016 came from men’s basketball, men’s and women’s soccer, women’s beach volleyball and men’s and women’s tennis. Swimming is closer to the lower end, but the sports with the lowest transfer levels are men’s baseball, women’s gymnastics and women’s lacrosse.
Junior College transfers make up a very small percentage of NCAA swimmers & divers.
The numbers in the table above don’t lie. Swimming & diving is one of the lower sports in junior college (2-4) transfers, and well below the national averages of 4% for men and 2% for women. Men’s baseball and basketball drag up those averages considerably, with 19% and 15% figures, respectively.
In general, all-sport NCAA transfers have dropped slowly over the past decade.
Men’s transfers (for 2-2 and 4-2 in all sports) were at 16% in 2004, but have declined moderately to 13.6% in 2016. Women’s transfers went from 10.4% to 9.2%. In general, male transfers are far more common – even after 12 years of decline, men’s transfers are still higher than women’s transfers were back in 2004.
Men’s Swim & Dive transfers jumped up from 2015 to 2016.
It’s hard to put too much stock in one year’s worth of data, especially when the overall trend shows men’s transfers dropping steadily. But men’s transfers did increase in 2016, from 4.2% to 4.7%. That’s the first year that transfers have increased in men’s swimming & diving since 2012.
Men’s 4-4 transfers have dipped below women’s 4-4 transfers
That’s actually true as of 2014 in swimming & diving, and became very pronounced in 2015, with women’s 4-4 transfers sitting almost a full percentage point (3.9%) above men’s (3.0%). Men’s 4-4s rose in 2016, but still sit below women’s, 3.7% to 3.8%. That comes after the entire 2004-2013 period showed higher transfer levels among men than women for the 4-4 bracket. Overall transfers still skew towards the men’s side because 2-4 transfers have historically been much higher among men.
One piece not included in this set of data was touted by the NCAA on Twitter: student-athletes verbally committing to a school earlier are more likely to end up switching schools down the road:
Of the DI athletes taking the recruiting survey, early recruits were less likely to currently attend the school where they first committed. pic.twitter.com/bzRyhiYeHm
— NCAA Research (@NCAAResearch) October 17, 2017
You can see our full discussion of that issue here.