The Secrets of College Recruiting

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.

I have been asked by SwimSwam to share some of the information that we send to college coaches to entice them to recruit our swimmers.

The truth is there are no secrets. We do our homework in researching schools for academics and swimming that will be the best fit for our swimmers. Our main goal is to save the college coaches time. We provide the coaches everything they need to see in our swimmers to entice them to want to recruit them. Our swimmers are seriously recruited by an average of 39 schools.

I have been in the recruiting business for over 30 years; 17 as a D-I coach and Recruiting Coordinator and 13 years as the Director of Swimming for American College Connection. I have learned what certain coaches look for in recruits……what they see as strengths and weaknesses and I have developed our program based on this information.

Here are few of my observations:

Coaches certainly look at times to determine if a recruit can help them at the conference level, but they also look at grades and test scores. A lot of coaches at D-I, D-II and NAIA schools will try to help the recruit find academic scholarships first then fill in with swimming scholarships (D-III does not offer athletic aid). This obviously makes their scholarships stretch farther.

Coaches are looking for good people who can contribute to their team in more ways than just times on a piece of paper. They want recruits who will go to class and graduate. The NCAA can impose penalties on schools who don’t graduate their student-athletes.

A lot of coaches start putting together future recruiting list with 9th and 10th graders so start early.

Grades Count!

One of the most important things we do is try to make sure we are not wasting the college coaches’ time by sending recruits who don’t have a chance of qualifying academically. We also try to make sure the recruit has the times to contribute to their program or at least has the potential to develop.

Here is some of the information that we provide the college coaches

  • Year of graduation
  • Best events and best times (showing progression is very important)
  • Updating the coaches as you progress (keeping you in front of the coaches)
  • Grades and test scores
  • Area of academic interest
  • Height and weight
  • Shoe size if appropriate
  • Wing span if appropriate
  • Race video (we highlight your strengths)
  • Kicking ability
  • Your coach’s assessment
  • Strength training
  • Leadership abilities
  • Volunteer hours

In the coming weeks I will elaborate on the items above so be sure to check SwimSwam for future articles.

Do your homework and start early!

Finding out if you have what it takes to compete in swimming at the college level is easy, and many swimmers do have the potential considering all of the options. Go to www.ACCrecruits and submit a Free Profile.


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

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Emma Nicole
5 years ago


5 years ago

Where does the swimmers that have the ability In swimming but not academically in school please help waste of talent . Progression appears to college basis

Reply to  Nemo
5 years ago

Junior College your first two years and then on to a bigger school once you have the grades. Really good swimmers who don’t have the grades go to Indian River down in Florida.

5 years ago

I will not be recruited because I am not tall enough.. life is not fair.

NM Coach
5 years ago

What Rick did NOT mention here is that he gets calls from college coaches looking for specific needs they didn’t fill. Bottom line…this service actually WORKS in the swimmer’s favor!

8 years ago

I so agree with Jaybee. Having coached for most of my 28 years at the NCAA Div. III level -don’t expect your HS/club coach to do the college-search-work. The swimmer needs to take responsibility to do research, contact schools & coaches and be proactive. This is true at Div. III, but also at Div. I & II.

8 years ago

These are good tips. However, this is like a paid ad for a recruiter. Swimmers, you are your own best recruiter. You have to be patient, persistent, and be positive. The recruiting process can and probably will have highs and lows. It will take some hard work and some time. Work with your coaches and parents. Be prepared to make some honest and hard assessments of your abilities – your strengths and weaknesses. Research schools, prioritize your criteria for selecting a school first and a swim program second, see where your times fit in on a team and in the schools conference championships. You need to have a thick skin and a positive attitude. There are many opportunities to swim… Read more »

8 years ago

Thanks Rick for all you do to help put Student-Athletes in touch with the coaches!

Joni Neidigh
8 years ago

Great information, Rick! You have always been a wealth of information & wisdom. What I appreciate is how you support the athletes from start to career finish. Everyone can benefit from your advice during this process …the coaches, athletes and PARENTS… is an exciting yet stressful process. Thanks for what you do for all…especially these impressionable athletes.