Courtesy of Elizabeth Wickham
When my kids were little and new to our swim team, we never thought about college scholarships. After all, we didn’t know if our kids would stick through one season of swimming, let alone 10 plus years of it. I remember parents of older kids who were very focused on scholarships and believed that swimming was their ticket for a paid for college education. I can report that these parents did send their kids to college with big scholarships and it worked out well for them.
However, from reading various articles and looking at statistics, the numbers are not in favor of getting college paid for by swimming or diving. It’s around 2 percent of all high school athletes who go on to play their sport at an NCAA D1 college and 7 percent for student-athletes across all divisions. And that’s not even talking about scholarships. There’s a website that a swim coach sent to me with lots of numbers and statistics that spell it all out called “Scholarship Stats.” You can check out the 664 colleges that offered swimming and diving programs in 2017 at “College Swimming and Scholarship Opportunities.” It’s a helpful page to check out swim and dive programs complete with average scholarships awarded and SAT and ACT scores.
Here are a few tips about the statistics of swimming in college:
Our kids need to be passionate about their activities and spend all the necessary hours and sacrifices because they want to. Not because of a dream we have for them to earn a scholarship.
In an NCAA Division I, fully-funded swimming and dive program, Men are limited to 9.9 scholarships awarded per team, while Women have 14, with most programs having around 28 swimmers on either team. Because swimming is an equivalency sport, schools can offer partial scholarships that when added up don’t exceed the number of scholarships allowed. Most likely, if your child earns a scholarship for swimming it will be partial—not a full ride.
From the website Scholarship Stats, for Women, there were a total of 170,797 varsity high school swimmers in 2017. From those, 12,961 or 7.6 percent went on to swim in college. For Men, the numbers were 138,364 varsity high school swimmers with 10,345 or 7.5 percent swimming in college. These statistics don’t take into account club swimmers who don’t swim in high school.
Earning a scholarship is wonderful. If your child is fortunate enough to get one, you have every right to be proud and happy. Also, don’t forget about all the other great things they gained from swimming such as physical fitness, time management, good sportsmanship, friendships for life and skills desired by future employers. Enjoy each moment of the age group swimming years and the college ones to come.
What are your thoughts about pressure on swimmers to get athletic scholarships for college?
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.