Two Secrets of College Recruiting: Shoe Size and Kicking Ability

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.


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

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I agree that legs are important and need to be in shape…

Remember that kicking within kicking sets can be important, but it’s how you apply it in your races that is most important! Kick technique while you swim, not being lazy during any early season aerobic conditioning especially, combined with core control is more important than speed on a board. A board can hide inefficiencies, make sure it all comes together with understanding how your body works, strengthening your core and kicking properly during regular swimming.

Interesting article! I had the privilege of training under Paul Yetter and Bob Bowman as an age-grouper—they emphasized kicking as a substantial part of daily practice.

I was far from being the fastest swimmer in my group, but was easily one of the best kickers, with TINY size 9 feet. I also recall some of our smaller girls being blazingly fast at kick sets.

Just goes to show that there are myriad, individualized reasons for speed and efficiency. I think it’s the inherent nature of swimming to be a little idiosyncratic!

My daughter is a college swimmer and kicking is her biggest struggle, she does have tiny feet for a swimmer, 6 1/2 and she is a distance swimmer plus 4 IM and a fairly fast 2 Free.
She focuses a lot on improving her kicking with her small feet. Any suggestions?

Do vertical kicking with fins. The aim should be to do as many full kicks as possible during the time. Do 10, 20, 30 and 60 second repeats. Work:Rest ratio of 1:1 at least. Don’t do half kicks just to get a higher score. Do atleast 10 minutes of this every day for a month and I can guarantee better times in any event. The reason for fins instead of bare feet is that fins make it harder to move your feet fast

Hi Denise, I would suggest that she really work on her anchoring position with her feet for all four strokes. She needs to be as efficient as she can be with her feet in “holding” on to the water. You don’t need big feet to be a good kicker. She should talk with her coach.
Ben has a great idea also/

I am glad you pointed this out!
One of the early questions asked by several of the college coaches according to my daughter during recruiting was “what is your shoe size”. I had to laugh but it made sense.
I thought the coaches had just “noticed” those oversized shoes and were trying to connect.

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