The answer is you don’t because most coaches don’t know. You can usually count on the first offer not being their best offer, but where do you go from there?
College recruiting changes on a daily level throughout the year, but it changes on an hourly level in the fall. You have to stay in communication with the coaches to keep track of when a spot or scholarship might open up.
Finding out if you have a chance at getting a swimming scholarship is not necessarily rocket science. The coach wants to know, “how many points can you score for me at conference?” The more points, the more money. Some of the top swim programs are not only looking for conference scorers, but also NCAA scorers.
Do your homework and look up the conference results for the teams you are looking at. Three events in the top 16 will usually get you some money and three events in the top 8 will get more. Being able to swim on relays will usually get you more.
Since more and more recruits are getting offers in their junior year of high school a very important aspect of recruiting is selling your potential. You will need your coach for this. You want to get the college coaches to see how fast you can be for them in your freshman year.
Creating leverage for yourself is another very important aspect of scholarship offers. If you are interested in a particular school you need to get other schools within their conference to recruit you and offer you scholarships. That way you can leverage one school against the other. Most coaches would rather pony up a little more scholarship money to keep you away from their competition rather than risk facing you for four years with another team.