World Champion Carson Foster Turns Pro, Forgoing Final Two Years of NCAA Eligibility

One of the top male swimmers in the NCAA is moving on from college swimming.

Carson Foster, who recently completed his junior year at the University of Texas, announced his decision to turn professional on Thursday, forgoing his final two seasons of NCAA eligibility.


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“After much consideration, I have to decided to forgo my final years of NCAA eligibility and pursue my professional swimming career. My time competing as a Longhorn has been one of the greatest experiences and honors of my life and I am so excited for this next chapter in my journey.

“My time competing as a Longhorn has been one of the greatest experiences and honors of my life and I am so excited for this next chapter in my journey,” Foster said in an Instagram post.

“Thank you Eddie, Wyatt and Clint for the opportunity to be apart of this family. You three have created a culture that has allowed me and so many others to thrive. I’m looking forward to continuing to work with you three throughout my career and seeing what we can accomplish together.

“Thank you to my teammates — you guys are my best friends and I’m excited to continue to make memories with you all.

@texasmsd , you have truly blessed me with a second family. Hook ‘em forever.”

Foster, 21, will remain in Austin and train alongside the Texas pro group that includes the likes of Shaine CasasWill Licon and his older brother, Jake Foster, who announced last month he was deferring his medical school enrollment to swim one more year in the pro ranks.

Although Foster never won that elusive individual NCAA title, he had a very successful three-year run with the Longhorns, wrapping up his collegiate career as a three-time NCAA champion in the 800 free relay, a 13-time All-American and a member of the 2021 national championship-winning team at Texas.

The Cincinnati, Ohio native first began making a serious impact on the senior international stage in 2021, swimming the fastest time in the world for the year in the 400 IM shortly after narrowly missing a spot on the U.S. Olympic team. He then won three medals at the 2021 Short Course World Championships, including gold in the 800 free relay, and then broke out in the long course pool the following spring.

After qualifying for the 2022 LC World Championships at the U.S. Trials last April, Foster won a pair of individual silver medals in Budapest, swimming a pair of massive personal best times in the 200 IM (1:55.71) and 400 IM (4:06.56). He also contributed a critical 1:45.04 split on the U.S. men’s 800 free relay that won the world title by more than three seconds.

Foster’s international success continued this past December, as in the midst of the collegiate season, he won four medals at the 2022 Short Course World Championships, earning gold in the 800 free relay, silver in the 200 and 400 IM, and bronze in the 400 free relay.

Foster could’ve taken an Olympic redshirt year for the 2023-24 season, a route we’ve seen several other prominent American swimmers take in pre-Olympic years (including Stanford’s Torri Huske and Claire Curzan for the upcoming campaign), but it’s clear he’s ready to move on from the NCAA and put his sole focus on performing on the international stage.

Male swimmers turning pro and forgoing NCAA eligibility has historically happened much less frequently than we’ve seen from the women, though Casas ended his collegiate career with eligibility remaining in 2021 after three seasons at Texas A&M.

Recent examples on the women’s side include Stanford’s Regan SmithKatie Ledecky and Simone Manuel, and Cal’s Missy Franklin and Kathleen Baker.

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Old Swim Coach
1 year ago

Congrats, Carson. You are not going to regret chasing your dream when you look back on this many years from now. Cheering for you!

Tracy S
1 year ago

Go take that 💰💰💰, Carson!

1 year ago

Carson seems destined for silver and bronze because Leon is just smashing all his events.

There is that malady called Overtraining Syndrome that could hit Leon. Bob Bowman has been accused of ruining swimmers but not lately though.

Reply to  Marklewis
1 year ago

Apart from maybe Agnel, who exactly did Bowman ruin?

Reply to  Justhereforfun
1 year ago

He burned out Katie Hoff.

1 year ago

When Carson raced Leon at the last Pro meet in the 400Im you could see he was super competitive against him whereas at NCAAs it wasn’t even a race at all. I wonder if the light bulb went on in his head from that and he is just realizing where his strength lies.

1 year ago

Honestly, it’s about time. I’m shocked he did NCAA for 2 years. He trained so hard for 2021 Trials it felt like a step down when he followed thru with Texas. That’s me tho 🤷‍♂️

HOO love
Reply to  SSNP
1 year ago

he competed 3 years. they say he’s giving up 2 years of eligibility because of the COVID year

Reply to  HOO love
1 year ago

Please explain how he has a Covid year available. Is he not a junior?

Reply to  Meesha
1 year ago

He is. Current juniors were freshmen in 2020-2021, which is the year that resulted in 5th years.

Reply to  Braden Keith
1 year ago

Thank you. I didn’t realize that. I thought it was the those who were already student athletes – freshman and above – when the 2020 NCAA champs were cancelled that got the fifth year. I didn’t realize incoming 2020 freshman also got it. Makes sense though.

tea rex
1 year ago

Worked for Aaron Peirsol. Carson has a chance to be best in the world above the water (at least best in USA), and I don’t expect him to ever be best under the water.

1 year ago

I said a while back I thought this was the right move for him, and I’m glad he made the decision. He got to be on the same team with his brother for 3 years, but now gets to focus on a format where he’s way stronger.

My reasoning came down to Hunter Armstrong talking about how much it would affect his confidence to get his butt kicked in yards by a bunch of guys when he knew he was one of the best swimmers in the world. It’s important to work on your weaknesses as an athlete, but constantly having them thrown in your face like that isn’t great for the psyche of any elite athlete.

Juan Cena
1 year ago

Leon Marchand is now about 10 seconds faster than the next returning non-ASU swimmer in the 400 IM.

About James Sutherland

James Sutherland

James swam five years at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, specializing in the 200 free, back and IM. He finished up his collegiate swimming career in 2018, graduating with a bachelor's degree in economics. In 2019 he completed his graduate degree in sports journalism. Prior to going to Laurentian, James swam …

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