Want to Swim in College: Breaking-up with a College Coach

  12 Gold Medal Mel Stewart | November 09th, 2012 | College, News

From Jessica Berkowitz Minier:  Assistant Director of Swimming, American College Connection

At American College Connection we don’t just help our swimmers get recruited. We help them and their parents with all aspects of the recruiting process. Having to tell college coaches that you have made a college selection, and it is not their program or school, is one of the hardest things you will have to do.

The most important thing is to do it with class and don’t burn any bridges.

For a teenager, having to tell respected adults who have shown great interest in you that their program is not for you is cause for much consternation. This can be one of the most distasteful parts of recruiting for the recruit and the college coach.

If you have visited a school, it is best to call the coach and talk with them in person. If you can’t reach them, the second best option is to leave them a voice mail that you would like to talk with them about your college decision. If you still can’t reach them, you may let them know via email (but as a last resort). If you have not visited, email can be appropriate.

Below is an example of how to tactfully let a college coach know you have selected another school or decided to look elsewhere. If you do it right, the rejected coach will have even more respect for you and you will have gained another fan and supporter.


“Dear Coach _______,

I have really enjoyed getting to know you, the staff, and the team this season.  I am fortunate to have found more than one affordable college option that is also a good fit academically and athletically. Unfortunately, I have to choose only one. I have decided to attend _______ next season. I appreciate all of the time and energy you have spent with me in the recruiting process and I hope that telling you as soon as I made my decision gives you time to recruit another deserving prospect that could be a good fit for your program. I will be sure to tell my teammates about the wonderful opportunities at SCHOOL and I look forward to watching your progress next season.”

Don’t copy this word for word. Put it into your own words and send it to coaches as soon as you are sure of your decision.

Coaches are rejected by recruits every year; most will appreciate your honesty and will move-on quickly.  Most coaches will be glad that you informed them of your lack of interest so that they don’t waste their time.

Some coaches will ask why you are not interested, or some you may feel you want to give an explanation.  Give them sensitive, but sincere and honest answers.  I like the ‘it’s not you, it’s me approach”.  Let them know you decided to stay closer to home, were interested in some very specific academic programs, have to choose a school that is more affordable for your family, or just felt ‘right’ at another school.

Don’t make your parents do your “dirty work”. You will lose the coach’s respect if you try to pass the buck. This is not enjoyable, but suck it up and get it done. Pat yourself on the back…it is a nice problem to have.

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.

ACC is a SwimSwam ad partner. Learn more about ACC and their entire team here. 

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12 Comments on "Want to Swim in College: Breaking-up with a College Coach"

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Katie Sartini

I agree with all of this and I wish I would have seen this before I made my decision. I probably could have handled it better when making my decision. I didn’t know what to say to the other coaches at the time, and I felt very guilty. I was very short with them as to why I made the other decision, making it awkward when I ran into them at other swim meets or water polo games. Thank you for this advice, and I will be sure to pass it on to students I know that are going through this process!

Hi Katie,
It is nice to know that the info we provide is useful and appreciated. Everyone at ACC is a former college coach so we understand both sides of the recruiting process. As coaches we expect our swimmers to handle the recruiting process with class when dealing with the college coaches. The problem is that very few parents and swimmers understand anything about how the recruiting process works. More and more families are realizing that they need help with this process and are calling us.
Please send any students who are swimmers to SwimSwam for more info and to http://www.ACCrecruits.com for a free evaluation.

There certainly is a lot of mis-information handed out during the college recruiting process. It is very difficult it separate fact from fiction (sounds like the political debates). We had American College Connection work with both of our boys and we could not be happier with the results. The coaches at ACC genuinely cared about our kids and us and educated us on how the recruiting game is played. Our youngest son was a solid student and an average swimmer (1:47 in the 200 free) and his scholarship is worth nearly $18,000 per year. Our oldest was a more accomplished swimmer (1:53 in the IM) and he had nearly $800,000 in scholarship offers form 8 different schools. It really helps… Read more »

Now if only someone could teach some of these coaches the same manners…there are still those out there who are vindictive and spiteful (and VERY immature) when told a recruit isn’t joining their team.

You know who you are………..

Or how about the coaches that ask you what other schools you are visiting and then tell you how crappy those schools, programs and coaches are too. Should you really worry about calling them back before the facebook post…I think not!!


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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