What Can Parents Do If No One Recruits Their Child?

by SwimSwam Contributors 18

April 03rd, 2019 Swim Mom

Courtesy: Elizabeth Wickham

College recruiting can be an exhilarating and exciting experience. That is if your child is getting emails and interest from the schools he or she wants to attend. But what happens when the phone doesn’t ring? What if they haven’t been invited to an official visit? Maybe they’ve emailed a coach and asked what times are needed and the coach sends back a list of walk-on times—and those times are faster than your child’s best times. What can you do as a parent to help?

Here are a few things we can do during the ups and downs of college recruiting:


Be supportive.

The college admissions process can be nerve-racking with or without athletics thrown in the mix. We can be the person our child turns to when they’re feeling insecure or need someone to talk to. This is a great time to listen and be there for our kids.


Do your homework.

If you and your child have done a lot of research and are realistic about what division and conference is a good fit, then there should be interest by coaches. Have your child fill out online athlete questionnaires and be proactive. If they don’t hear back from a team they’ve contacted, they can reach out and make sure the coach knows they’re interested. It’s a busy time for coaches and kids can fall through the cracks.


Cast a wider net.

Maybe the schools your swimmer has selected aren’t a good fit. Many schools get faster each year and are looking for more stars. Or, your child is a backstroker and they already have more backstrokers than they need in the freshman class. As a parent, do more research and discuss a few more schools that fit your child as a student and swimmer.


Consider being a walk-on

If your child is interested in a school but not quite fast enough to be recruited, they can ask the coach about walk-ons. If they’re hard workers, have a good attitude and earn good grades, they can be a big benefit to a team. Many walk-ons improve, make the travel team and earn scholarships later on.


Keep an open mind.

Maybe the schools your child has dreamed of aren’t interested. Then keep an open mind and explore other options. Maybe a school they weren’t interested in before would be a great choice. The experience of being on a team adds so much to the college experience. If your child wants to swim in college, then encourage them to pursue their dreams.

What advice do you have for a parent if their child doesn’t hear back from coaches?

Elizabeth Wickham volunteered for 14 years on her kids’ club team as board member, fundraiser, newsletter editor and “Mrs. meet manager.” She’s a writer with a bachelor of arts degree in editorial journalism from the University of Washington with a long career in public relations, marketing and advertising. Her stories have appeared in newspapers and magazines including the Los Angeles Times, Orange County Parenting and Ladybug. You can read more parenting tips on her blog.

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Rick Paine
3 years ago

Don’t give up. In April and May of every year we have an average of 85 college coaches contact us looking for swimmers for the following year. Continue to email the coaches. You may want to ask your club or high school coach to contact some coaches. If they don’t have time, ask them to write a sort letter of assessment that highlights your potential, work ethic, character, coachability, competitiveness and leadership.

You can send this to the college coaches, but make sure your contact information is easy for them to find. This should come from the swimmer and not the parent.

(G)olden Bear
3 years ago

My oldest is a graduating high school senior this year. He is committed to a D1 program. My second is a sophomore this year. He will likely also swim D1. The process with the oldest was simple: in the summer after his sophomore year of h/s, do your research – build a simple excel spreadsheet that lists all of the schools you’re (the kid) considering. Include the location, the size (students), the environment (urban/rural), the acceptance rate, the out of state tuition, and information about the swim program. Let mom and dad review it, and see if you “missed any” schools. Then review the spreadsheet with your club coach, to see if any names are missing, or any can be… Read more »

Reply to  (G)olden Bear
3 years ago

I would never use “simple” to describe the college recruiting process. Especially if the swimmer is looking at top academic schools (IVYs and/or NESCAC). For the vast majority swimmers who are competitive but not the SwimSwam-level stars, this process could be torturous, nerve-racking, and time-consuming.

3 years ago

These are all great tips, especially the one about being proactive as the athlete. I would recommend the swimmer do the research, make phone calls, and send emails to potential coaches. If a college coach receives a phone call from a parent, how do I know the swimmer is actually interested? Contact directly from the swimmer will go a lot farther.

3 years ago

We have started going through recruiting with our twins (boy and girl). The boy is much faster and a better prospect but she loves swimming more. About them spending time doing all search by themselves? When? Between 3 AP classes plus dry land and practices, there is no time for them to sleep, let along search colleges. The boy is getting a lot for attention from Div 2 and Div 3 schools and the girls some from Div 3. The boy will get Div 1 interest next Fall. As parent, I want them to get great aducation and be part of a team and have 20-50 fiends instantly when they step on campus. Their swimming career is of little importance,… Read more »

Reply to  PsychoDad
3 years ago

Check out SwimmingRank.com

I discussed it above. Great site.

Reply to  PsychoDad
3 years ago

Example of ” top Div 3 programs where you will have that kind off pressure anyway, from some psycho coach”? Do they not have time during breaks, or the summer?

Ol' Longhorn
3 years ago

Six. Consider putting the education first. Pick the college that way.

Reply to  Ol' Longhorn
3 years ago

I agree with the sentiment. The issue is that these top-tier colleges are so competitive that getting recruited is one of the only assured ways to get admitted. In addition, the opportunity cost of swimming in high school is huge and has disproportionately poor value-add to an applicant who isn’t getting recruited. A student would be better off focusing on SAT scores and unique extracurricular projects rather than apply as a mediocre athlete.

There’s the additional irony that an athlete who gets recruited who otherwise would not be admitted doesn’t need to compete for four years (or at all) to reap the benefits of recruitment. Getting in is obviously the hardest part, considering that Ivy League schools have retention of… Read more »

Reply to  Ol' Longhorn
3 years ago

Preach On brother!

working swim mom
3 years ago

Being a walk on is a tough one. One of my kids was a true walk on, and not gonna lie, the first year sucked. It was clear the coaches were giving him a chance because his club coach asked them to… they very much acted like they hoped he would give up and quit. They treated him horribly. He didn’t give up, he kept working hard and improving. By the end of his first full year, they realized they had a kid with solid work ethic and real potential for improvement. It took them a while to get past the fact he wasn’t their find, or at least that’s how it felt.

In his second year he made A… Read more »

3 years ago

Well, the parents shouldn’t be doing the work. If you are a swimmer and not doing your own research, seeing which schools which have your major and your times fit in. That’s your job and not hard to do at all.

Reply to  Hswimmer
3 years ago

especially with colllegeswimming.com

Reply to  SwimFL
3 years ago

That’s what I used 🙂

Reply to  Hswimmer
3 years ago

SwimmingRank.com is a great resource as well.

The great thing about that site is it allows a swimmer to see their percentile ranks within each NCAA Division, then within each conference within each division, and finally within each program individually.

It also automatically picks out their three best events percentile-wise for any given program. It allows you to see who the best performers in that event have been for that program over the last year, so you can see if their top performer is a junior or senior and therefore it is a position of need for that program.

So it really allows a swimmer to quickly focus in on the programs where they could contribute, and then… Read more »

VA Steve
3 years ago

I would only add that Club swimming in college is a great alternative. Many schools have club teams that compete frequently and travel (even to championship meets).

The Kraken
Reply to  VA Steve
3 years ago

College Club Swimming just hosted their national meet in Columbus, Ohio, and over 100 different colleges came