Want to Swim in College: Everyone Signed Early, But Me! What Do I Do Now?

  16 SwimSwam | December 27th, 2012 | College, College Recruiting, News

Contributor, Rick Paine, is a friend and an expert on the college recruiting process. He is also the Director of Swimming at American College Connection. 

You have read all of the articles about the swimmers who signed early, you have seen your teammates at press conferences announcing their early signing and you are more than a little concerned if there is actually a place for you in college swimming.

Will anyone still want me? Will there be any scholarship money left? What do I do now? Have I missed the boat?

I would estimate that only about 25% of the high school senior swimming recruits sign during the early signing period each year. The rest have to wait until April.

At American College Connection we advise our swimmers to sign early ONLY IF they have found the right fit for academics, swimming and scholarship at a college. We work with an average of 85 seniors every year. Because we start the recruiting process with the majority of our swimmers when they are in grade 9, 10 and 11, 65% of our swimmers sign early.

Here is some information and advice that we provide the other 35%.

Info about the signing periods for swimming:

  • The early signing period is a one week window in the middle of November when swimmers can officially sign a National Letter of Intent and scholarship papers.
  • The regular signing period begins in the middle of April and runs through August 1.
  • Verbal commitments can be given at any time, but they are not binding.
  • You cannot sign an NLI unless you have some form of swimming scholarship.
  • Nearly all D-I and D-II (D-III does not have a signing period and NAIA has an open signing period) coaches try to get their recruiting completed during the early signing period………..very few do.
  • There is more scholarship money available during the early signing period than the regular one.
  • There are a lot of coaches still looking for swimmers in April and most of them have scholarship money. We usually get contacted by an average of 95 coaches at the end of April every year asking for swimmers for the following year.

Advantages for signing in April:

  • You have a chance to improve your times and grades.
  • For most men, you have a chance to grow.
  • After the early signing period coaches will re-evaluate their recruiting needs and may lower they scholarship standards slightly.
  • You will get recruited by schools that didn’t recruit you early.
  • You have more time to get to know the coaches and for them to get to know you.
  • The extra five months gives you time to mature and have a better idea of what you are looking for in a school and swim program.

The best advice I can give you is:

  • stay patient
  • keep working hard in school and the pool
  • keep the coaches updated on your unrested times and how they compare to the previous season
  • sell your potential (see SwimSwam article from mid October)
  • let the coaches know what and when your big shave and taper meet is
  • when the big meet comes you will have to deal with the feelings that “I HAVE to swim fast”. It is pretty difficult to HAVE to swim fast. Put the recruiting aside and focus on ALLOWING yourself to swim fast.

Happy New Year and contact us if you or your parents have any questions about the college recruiting process.

To find out if the time is right for you to get started with the college recruiting process go to www.ACCrecruits.com and submit a Free Profile Assessment.


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16 Comments on "Want to Swim in College: Everyone Signed Early, But Me! What Do I Do Now?"

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Charlie Johnson

Glad you clarified that point, Steve. I just re-read my post and I meant to say (as you did) that I was referring to DI and upper level DII opportunities for those male’s with AAAA and AAA times.

Charlie Johnson
I agree with John. From what we’ve learned from contact with multiple college coaches, graduating males whose times are a little short of USAS Junior National standards, but who still have a passion to swim should focus on finding the programs where they can walk on and contribute with the hope that maybe there will be a small amount of money available to them in their sophomore or junior years or where there are academic scholarships and merit awards available. At the DI and upper DII level, even with lots of research and regular emails to coaches beginning in 10th grade, there just doesn’t appear to be an opportunity for males to earn swimming scholarships. Fortunately, it does seem due… Read more »

I would have to disagree with the statement that there “doesn’t appear to be an opportunity for males to earn swimming scholarships.” There are plenty of opportunities out there, but the male swimmers do have to be fast enough. Academic aid is given to the students who get the best test scores and have the best GPAs. Athletic aid is likewise merit based and awarded to the fastest available swimmers. A strong list of AAAA and AAA times just isn’t necessarily fast enough to earn money at the DI or upper DII level. Lots of programs would welcome those times for walk on swimmers to add to team depth, however. .

Charlie you and John are correct that Title IX has had a negative impact on men’s swimming scholarships, but there are also quite a few men’s teams who have a “cap” on the number of men they can have on their team regardless of scholarship. All the more reason to start the recruiting process early. See SwimSwam article in early December about when to start the process. http://swimswam.com/when-do-i-start-the-college-recruiting-process/ The least fastest male swimmer we have been able to help was a 2:02 and 5:14 freestyler. He is now the team captain on his D-III team in his junior year. There are still a large number of opportunities to swim in college for guys who are not at the Jr. National… Read more »
Speaking from a parent’s perspective this year, it certainly appears the money dries up VERY early in the season at the top end of the men’s talent pool. Long ago I remember signing in the Spring. I suppose this is expected now with the effects of Title IX through the decades, limited athletic budgets and the fact that there’s really only on the average about 2 available scholarships each year to give out on the men’s side….. i.e. 8+ for swimming… and 1+ for diving…. that leaves about 2+ per grade if the coach spaced it out evenly over the 4 classes. Mel….. perhaps your are correct for the swimmers below the top 100, but it felt like the game… Read more »