Two Secrets of College Recruiting: Shoe Size and Kicking Ability

  31 SwimSwam | June 14th, 2014 | College, Industry, International, News, Opinion

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

College swim coaches are all strapped for time. Only a handful of programs have big staffs with recruiting coordinators. The rest of the coaches have to do everything themselves, maybe with help from a grad assistant.

The reason our program works is because we save the coaches time in finding and recruiting our swimmers. When we send a swimmer’s info to the coaches we make sure we are not sending them information that is not useful.

Shoe Size

After 13 years of research on what college coaches are looking for in recruits we have found they are all looking for swimmers with big flippers (not rocket science). Most coaches have an idea of what they consider “big feet.” Our research suggests that coaches are looking for guys with size 12 and girls with size 10 or larger.

This doesn’t mean that a swimmer with smaller feet can’t swim in college, but big feet help.

Kicking Ability

So much of college swimming is about strength, power and kicking. Years ago you could find many distance swimmers who utilized a 2-beat kick when they raced. When is the last time you saw a 2-beat kicker in college? We used to believe that swimmers were not capable of maintaining a 6-beat kick throughout a 1650, but swimmers have conditioned themselves to not only maintain a 6-beat kick, but actually utilize the kick for a little propulsion and to help with rhythm and timing. This is true for all four strokes.

We have found that most college level kicking starts with 100’s on a 1:30 interval. Here is what we ask our swimmers and their coaches:

What is the fastest interval you can hold on a set of 5 x 100 kick (yards), without fins?

If the swimmer can hold a 1:30 interval or better, we let the college coaches know; otherwise it becomes useless information.

When I coached at Nebraska we did the following kick set at least once during the first two weeks of practice.

Everyone grab a board. We are going 10 x 100 free kick on a 1:30, leave on top, ready go. The freshmen’s eyes got really big with disbelief. They soon realized that this set was not going away and after a month of kicking a straight 1000 they began to get in shape.

If you want to swim in college, get your legs in shape. They are the largest muscles in your body and there is no reason to drag them around.

Kicking is a mind set. You can choose to be a good kicker or a bad kicker.

The newest piece of information we are going to start providing the college coaches is hand size. We are currently surveying the coaches to determine how they measure hand size what they consider to be a big paddle or anchor.

I will let you know what we find out.

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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31 Comments on "Two Secrets of College Recruiting: Shoe Size and Kicking Ability"

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Lawrence Krause

A strong kick also helps a swimmer sit higher in the water causing less water resistance with each stroke.

Wayne Davis-Hannibal

I have a problem with a very hard working 17 year old if we do kick drills mainly free he comes last there are 10 year olds that beat him but when we use fins he flies he has big hands and size 10 feet he is in top 5 in his age group in free any suggestions please??

I think it’s important to finish a practice the way you finish a race (warmdown afterward, of course): with a very fast swimming-with-fins set that forces the swimmer to a) use the legs and b) train to finish fast..
If you can be as specific as possible to racing strategy as often as possible, then you’re not just swimming; you’re training to race. Naturally, you have to put in easy days so you don’t encourage failing adaptation, but you should always maintain a philosophy that a practice is just a longer race.Otherwise, you should just go to the “Y” for lap swim.