What Does Swimming in College Look Like?

Varsity Team:

  • Team Requirements (20 hours a week)
  • Class Requirements (passing 12 credit hours)
  • Social Life and Family Life Balance
  • Four-year commitment
  • Student-Athlete resources (tutors, early class registration)
  • Vacation and Breaks may be different


  • A way to continue swimming while in college
  • Different levels of commitment and competition
  • Collegiate Club Swimming Championships


Timeline for Swimming in College

Division I:

Freshman/Sophomore Years
- 2015 Rules changes
-You are allowed to receive recruiting materials such as: questionnaires, camp brochures, NCAA materials and nonathletics recruiting publications only.


Junior Year
-Telephone Calls: Once per week starting July 1 following your junior year.  July 1 is the most important date to remember.
-Off-Campus Contact: Coaches can contact you at an off-campus location after July 1 of your junior year.
- Student needs to register with the 
NCAA Eligibility Center, for NCAA, or the NAIA Eligibility Center.

Senior Year
-Telephone Calls: A coach can call you once per week
-Off-Campus Contact: July 1 prior to senior year of the opening day of classes of his or her senior year, whichever is earlier.
-Official Visits: Opening day of prospect’s classes

Division II:

Junior Year:
-Recruiting Materials: After September 1
-Telephone Calls: June 15 immediately preceding junior year.  No limit on the number of calls after the first permissible date
-Off-Campus Contact: June 15 immediately preceding junior year

Senior Year:
-Official Visit: Opening day of classes

Division III:

Sophomore Year:
-Recruiting Materials: Permissible
-Telephone Calls: Permissible both freshmen and sophomore years
Junior Year:
-Off-Campus Contact: Following completion of junior year
Senior Year:
-Official Visit: Opening day of classes



Picking a School for You

Does the school have a swim team?
The Fairport Area Swim Team (FAST) wants every swimmer on the team to swim in college. The club understands the benefits of being part of a team. If the school has a team, start to show interest in the program. If the school does not, it is important to write letters to the school president and director of athletics encouraging them to start a program.

Involvement Level:
Evaluate what your desire is to be involved not only in your swim team, but around campus and other activities. Will the team commitments allow you time to be involved in say Greek life or student government?

Can you get accepted?
It is very important to review the acceptance standards of any and all schools that you are interested in attending. If you are unable to meet these standards, it can make your desire to swim on that school's swim team a tougher road.

Academic Offerings:
If you know your intended major, or even if you don't, it is important to review all of the academic offerings each school has. If you are undecided, do you have plenty of options to explore at the school or are your options limited?

Public vs. Private:
Public schools are funded heavily by state and government monies while private institutions are funded by tuition, endowments and donations.

Public institutions normally have an "in-state" cost for those students who are residents of the state and an "out-of-state" cost for those who attended from a different state. These prices differences can make schools become more reasonably priced for your budget or put them out of reach.

Private schools most often have the same pricing for all types of students, in-state and out-of-state.

Review the different types and all options each school has in terms of scholarships and financial aid. While some schools do not offer athletic scholarships, they could have more academic offerings than others. Schools have academic based scholarships; need based scholarships and private scholarships that students must apply for.

Where is the school located? Is it located in a part of the country that experiences all four seasons and maybe you are only used to mild seasons? Are you going to want to visit your hometown often to see friends and family? If so, is this a car ride away or maybe a flight?

Additionally, does the location of this school require long travel trips for team activities? When making team trips, do you travel by bus or plane and how much time will you spend making these trips?

For some people, attending a large college is just what they are looking for. Classes with 300 people and a campus with tens of thousands. For others, a small intimate campus is more ideal.

Conference Competition:
It is possible to gauge the level of a swim team based on how they perform within their conference. Conference championships play an important part of all athletic departments. A good check for your ability to swim at a given school is to check your times against the times posted at the conference championship. Would you be able to swim and score points for your school?

Before starting a college search it may be helpful to create a list of the most important aspects to YOU of attending a college. It is important to note that any college experience is what each individual makes of it!




NCAA Eligibility Center/General Eligibility

College bound student-athletes are encouraged to register at the beginning of their junior year of high school.

Visit the NCAA Eligibility Center here
The Eligibility Center has resources for students and parents

Academic Eligibility per NCAA:
  • Graduate from high school.
  • Complete a minimum of 16 core courses for Division I or 14 core courses for Division II. After August 1, 2013, student-athletes who wish to compete at Division II institutions must complete 16 core courses.
  • Earn a minimum required grade-point average in core courses.
  • Earn a qualifying test score on either the ACT or SAT.
  • Request final amateurism certification from the NCAA Eligibility Center.
For Division I student-athletes who will enroll in August 2015 and later, the requirements to compete in the first year will change. In addition to the above standards, prospects must:
  • Earn at least a 2.3 grade-point average in core courses.
  • Meet an increased sliding-scale standard (for example, an SAT score of 1,000 requires a 2.5 high school core course GPA)
  • Successfully complete 10 of the 16 total required core courses before the start of their senior year in high school. Seven of the 10 courses must be successfully completed in English, math and science.

Prospects that earn between a 2.0 and 2.3 GPA and meet the current sliding scale standard (for example, an SAT score of 1,000 requires a 2.025 high school core course GPA) will be eligible for practice and athletically related financial aid but not competition.
Division III college and universities set their own admission standards. The NCAA does not set initial eligibility requirements in Division III.

Sliding Scale and Eligibility Requirements

SwimSwam article on NCAA Eligibility Center



NCAA member schools have adopted rules to create an equitable recruiting environment that promotes student-athlete well-being. The rules define who may be involved in the recruiting process, when recruiting may occur and the conditions under which recruiting may be conducted. Recruiting rules seek, as much as possible, to control intrusions into the lives of student-athletes.

The NCAA defines recruiting as “any solicitation of prospective student-athletes or their parents by an institutional staff member or by a representative of the institution’s athletics interests for the purpose of securing a prospective student-athlete’s enrollment and ultimate participation in the institution’s intercollegiate athletics program.”

Division I Recruiting Guide
Division II Recruiting Guide

Division III (There is not an NCAA DIII recruiting guide)

Follow 1001 Recruit Tips on Twitter

Recruiting Trips

What is the difference between an official visit and an unofficial visit?

Any visit to a college campus by a college-bound student-athlete or his or her parents paid for by the college is an official visit.

Visits paid for by college-bound student-athletes or their parents are unofficial visits.

During an official visit the college can pay for transportation to and from the college for the prospect, lodging and three meals per day for both the prospect and the parent or guardian, as well as reasonable entertainment expenses including three tickets to a home sports event.

The only expenses a college-bound student-athlete may receive from a college during an unofficial visit are three tickets to a home sports event.

The only expenses a college-bound student-athlete may receive from a college during an unofficial visit are three tickets to a home sports event.

Behavior On Visits:

It is EXTREMELY important to remember your visit to a college and meeting with the team and coach can be your one and only chance to make a good impression in person.

It is important to consider:

What are you wearing? Do you look like you are truly interested in the school and are dressed to impress the coach or do you look like an unorganized, unmotivated student?

Are you organized with any materials you are presenting to the coach/school? If you sent a resume or document with your information, make sure you bring a matching or updated hard copy.

Is the student-athlete driving the conversation with the coach or are the parents? Who is more interested in learning about the program? Remember to get YOUR questions answered. Don't be passive in the experience.

Remember on a recruiting trip, coaches and teammates are doing their best to get you to their school and team. Try to remain objective about the experience. This one weekend with a coach and team may not be the best representation of what your college career will look like at that school. Think about your next four-five years there, not just a single weekend.

As much as you are judging a team, coach and campus, they are doing the same to you. They want to know if you will fit in with them. Put your best foot forward and enjoy your time getting to know the team, but know how to balance having a good time and being a responsible recruit.



National Letter of Intent is signed by a college-bound student-athlete when the student-athlete agrees to attend a Division I or II college or university for one academic year. Participating institutions agree to provide financial aid for one academic year to the student-athlete as long as the student-athlete is admitted to the school and is eligible for financial aid under NCAA rules. Other forms of financial aid do not guarantee the student-athlete financial aid.

The National Letter of Intent is voluntary and not required for a student-athlete to receive financial aid or participate in sports.

Signing a National Letter of Intent ends the recruiting process since participating schools are prohibited from recruiting student-athletes who have already signed letters with other participating schools.

A student-athlete who has signed a National Letter of Intent may request a release from his or her contract with the school. If a student-athlete signs a National Letter of Intent with one school but attends a different school, he or she will lose one full year of eligibility and must complete a full academic year at their new school before being eligible to compete.

Verbal Commitments

Verbal commitment is the phrase used to describe a college-bound student-athlete’s commitment to a school before he or she is able to sign a National Letter of Intent (“NLI”). A college-bound student athlete can announce a verbal commitment at any time. While verbal commitments have become popular, they are NOT binding on either the college-bound student-athlete or the school. Only the signing of the NLI accompanied by a financial aid agreement is binding on both parties.

As stated, verbal commitments are non-binding, but student-athletes should think about how changing a verbal commitment can make them look if they are still looking for the team they do want to join.

Walk On/Non-Scholarship Athletes

Any athlete who does not receive athletic monies is considered a "walk-on" athlete. These non-athletic scholarship athletes may recieve academic monies or other grant and aid from the school or private donors.



Financial Aid

There are many options out there to help students pay for college. It is important for students to look at all possible options to help them pay for college, if needed.

Visiting your high school college counselor or guidance counselor may help in the search for different types of scholarships available to you.

Each college and university has a financial aid offices or financial service offices. Take time to look into the options each school has to offer and see if you can apply for additional funds from the school.

A quick internet search of "financial aid" can turn up many different websites and pages. Take time to review each site before registering to use them as some are money-making sites and may not be as useful as others.

Per the NCAA:
Individual colleges or universities award athletics grants-in-aid (often described as scholarships) on a one-year, renewable basis. They may be renewed for a maximum of five years within a six-year period of continuous college attendance. Aid can be renewed, canceled or reduced at the end of each year for many reasons. If a student-athlete’s aid will be reduced or canceled, the college or university must provide the student-athlete with an opportunity to appeal.

Financial aid is awarded in various amounts, ranging from full scholarships (including tuition, fees, room, board and books) to small awards that might provide only course-required books. Such partial awards are known as “equivalencies.” Some Division I sports (including Football Bowl Subdivision football and basketball) do not permit equivalencies.

All scholarships from any source in any amount must be reported to the college financial aid office. The total amount of financial aid a student-athlete can receive and the total amount of athletics aid a team can award may be limited. These limits can affect whether a student-athlete can accept aid from other sources.

Athletics financial aid can be a tremendous benefit to most families, but some costs are not covered  (for example, travel between home and school). Also, although the benefits of athletically related financial aid are substantial, the 
likelihood of participating is relatively small. Any young person contemplating college attendance should use high school for legitimate academic preparation.

Some examples of financial aid include:
Academic scholarships
Athletic scholarships
Federal work-study program
Grants (private and government-based)
Loans (Private and government-based)

Federal Student Aid (FASFA)
National College Finance Center


There are numerous opportunities for scholarships outside of the pool. Use your high school guidance office - they will have lists of these opportunities and can help you with the application process. If you know of opportunities that we can share here with our FAST families, please send them to Coach Ryan - [email protected]



College Survival Guide for Parents - Includes sections on approaching the college process, saving for college, transcripts, testing, campus visits, and much more. 
NCAA Guide for the College Bound Student-Athletes

NCAA Eligibility Center
NCAA DI Manual