When Do I Start the College Recruiting Process?

by SwimSwam 50

December 04th, 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. 

This is a question that every swimmer who wants to swim in college is faced with. Too many times swimmers and their parents don’t consider this question early enough and lose a great number of options for colleges because they waited too long.

Being a former Division I Associate Head Coach and Recruiting Coordinator for 17 years I can tell you that I always tried to identify talent at an early age (13 to 14 year olds for girls and 14 to 15 year olds for boys).

American College Connection surveyed hundreds of college swim coaches to find out when they start putting together their list of potential recruits. Here are the findings:

  • 80% of the coaches plan their recruiting 3 to 4 years in advance
  • They start putting together their recruiting lists with girls who are 13 and over and boys who are 14 and over.
  • They are looking for potential and talent in younger swimmers.
  • They tend to favor the swimmers who get on their lists early. This gives them time to follow the swimmers’ progress and get to know them via emails and mailings.
  • 98% of the coaches aim to get their recruiting completed during the early signing period in November of each year.

Based on this information the best time to start the recruiting process with girls is 13-14 and boys 14-15.

You can’t go wrong by starting the recruiting process early, but you definitely can go wrong by waiting too late.

The key to our success with American College Connection is to get swimmers on the college coaches “radar screen” early, then keep the coaches updated with the swimmer’s progress throughout high school.

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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Are college coaches interested in IMX scores? How do you communicate to a coach that a swimmer is a “late bloomer” and probably not as big as they will be? What about video, do college coaches watch them, what makes a good video? How many “official” visits do you advise if invited by several schools?


well max official visits is 5 (per division that is… if you are looking between a few). The most important step is to get communication with the coach in the first place. Then you let them know… hey I was 54 two years ago in free and 51 last year and this year I am 49 already. Most coaches (good ones at least) will consider all of this during the recruiting process. That being said don’t send them an email with the entire history of all of your swims ever. Coaches aren’t really going to care about the IMX score. While its useful for comparison purposes, coaches recruit more based on need. If the only two butterfliers on the team… Read more »

Great question SwimMom, Very few coaches will use IMX scores. Their main swimming focus is: how many points can you score inf 3 events at our conference championships? Ben offers some great advice. Let them know about your improvement, but don’t send them your life history. Coaches definitely watch race video. When filming, keep your swimmer in the frame and occasionally zoom in so the coaches can see technique, but also zoom out some so the can see how the swimmer races (how they use their legs at the end of a race, how they work their walls…..). No music please. The key to video is to determine how a coach will view it. They don’t use YouTube, some will… Read more »

Great question, swimmom!
There is a lot of good/great swimmers late bloomers.Auburn Marcelo Chieriguini become a swimmer only at sixteen years-old, with the only purpose to stay fit.

bad system

I think this is kind of a waste. I went 2:30 in my 200 back (yards) when I was 15… but by the end of senior year of high school I was 1:56 and now as a sophomore in college I’ve been 1:49. I know this is not the norm, but 15 for guys is a bid ridiculous. Look at Austin Staab’s younger times. He was not a standout by any means at the younger ages

think bigger picture...

Its a waste only if your club coach can’t identify talent and communicates that with the kids and their parents. At 14-15, kids show signs of next level potential. A 14 year old boy that’s 5″10″ with size 14 shoe, big hands, tall grandparents/aunts/uncles goes 2:10 in the 200FR shows potential for physical traits. Technical proficiency can be taught and if the kid is hard working, that is another tally in the good column. What this does is just put the kid on the teams radar, giving them someone to track (checking results 1-2 times a season is not hard and USA Swimming database allows you to see best time by age). If this swimmer wants to swim at the… Read more »

The key is to present your potential to the colleges coaches when you are younger to get them to see a guy who is capable of going 1:56 as a senior. There are many different areas that college coaches look at to determine potential.
It is important to understand if your times are fast enough at a young age to attract the interest of college coaches.


Rick Paine.

Considering that you could ban from swimming Leveux, Bernard, Chiereguinni… Bernard never been sub-1 minute before 16.. Leveux If I´m not wrong Started swimming at 16 and Chiereguinni at 18 years only.. and I think there are a lot of other olympics class swimmers that can fall under this category..


I don’t know many coaches in division 1 swimming who are looking at girls at 13-14 and guys at 15. Yes, we see fast swims and we will see when a 14 year old like Amanda Beard swims as fast as she does. However, Per NCAA rules, we can’t email regarding recruiting until September 1 of junior year and we can’t call recruits until July 1st before senior year. The summer before junior year begins is when the list will start to get compiled for the initial mail/email outs on September 1, and during that time we’re busy with official visits with the senior class. What freshman and sophomores do doesn’t matter to me. A lot can change in a… Read more »


I’ll give my perspective as a parent of older child who was recruited and swam college 4 years and now have sophomore in high school. First and foremost the student must take ownership of the process as early as possible (just as in swimming). I see little benefit in reaching out to all kind of coaches until you have some idea where you might fit academically/socially…..that is the necessary condition for success. I also think you need to at least have take PSATs to have some early indicator of your eventual SAT scores. Interestingly that pretty much lines up with college coach’s time frame of summer before junior year. Meanwhile, in freshman and sophomore year get great grades because if… Read more »


While I’ve had no experience with ACC or other service I would certainly not dismiss them out of hand. Just make sure that your child is driving the process and also consulting with their academic advisor and club coach.

I have a feeling that CollegeCoach has his own agenda. I would be very interested to hear from readers if they find our articles helpful or not. Our goal is to educate swimmers and parents o how the actual recruiting process works based on our combined 41 years of college coaching experience.
Please let us know.

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