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How to Separate Yourself from the Thousands of Recruits Out There

The odds of getting recruited and swimming in college are pretty slim. It has been estimated there are well over 40,000 high school senior girls and over 35,000 senior boys who want to swim in college every year. This is counting high school, club and international swimmers and the number of international swimmers wanting to come to the states is rising dramatically every year.

If you want to swim in college, you have to work at it. Don’t expect the coaches to come to you.

Here is the typical college coach’s evening during the recruiting season. They work all day, then get home and start making phone calls to potential recruits.

About 90% of the conversations go like this:

Coach: Hi Johnny, this is Coach Paine from the University of USA. How are you?

Recruit: Fine.

Coach: How was your meet last weekend?

Recruit: Pretty good.

Coach: Are practices going well this summer?

Recruit: Uh huh.

Coach: What plans do you have after the season?

Recruit: I don’t know.

Coach: Have you thought much about our program?

Recruit: Where are you from again?

Coach: Do you have any questions for me?

Recruit: Nope.

You get the idea. After about 10 phone calls a night like this, you can imagine that the coach is pretty glassy eyed and ready for bed feeling like he hasn’t accomplished much.

When a college coach takes the time to call you, you should feel honored and should try to make that phone call very special for you and the coach. You want the coach to look forward to calling you next week.

One of the best ways to separate you from all of the other recruits who college coaches call is to use “yes sir” and “no sir” when talking with a college coach. Young people nowadays rarely show this form of respect. I guarantee the coach will remember you.

Never use the word “dude” with a college coach. If you have to ask why, you’re in trouble.

Engage the coach. Show respect and class and confidence in yourself. Always stand up when talking with a college coach. You will have more energy and the coach will hear it in your voice.


Questions for college coaches when they call

  • How long have you been coaching?

  • How long have you been at your school?

  • How much longer do you see yourself coaching?

  • What is the highlight of your coaching career so far?

  • What are your long term personal goals?

  • What are your goals for this season for the team?

  • What are your long term goals for the team?

  • Why did you get into coaching?

  • What motivates you to continue to coach?

  • Where did you grow up?

  • Do you have a family?


Is video important?

Unless you live in one of the hotbeds of swimming, coaches will probably not have a chance to watch you swim. Almost all of the coaches want to see what you look like when you race. You should be sending out video of your races.

Video tips:

  • Have your parents take the video. Don’t ask your coach. They are too busy at meets.

  • Have your parents zoom in on you for about 75% of the race so the coaches can see your strokes.

  • Video should be taken from the side of the pool high in the stands.

  • Use a tripod or at least make sure your mom doesn’t drink too much coffee before filming.

  • Put some of your swims in slow motion.

  • Highlight yourself in your lane so coaches can find you.

  • Don’t send practice video. Coaches want to see what you look like when you race.

  • No underwater footage. Camera angles can be deceptive.

  • Delete the commentary. Coaches don’t want to listen to your parents screaming.

Good luck and get to work