college swimming information page

Swimmers, if you are interested in swimming in college, it’s important for you to take an active role in the process of finding the right and perfect school and swimming program for you.

High school swimmers, go to and register today. This is an excellent website and resource for you to find schools and for college coaches to find you.

If you really want to swim in college, don’t wait for the university or the swimming coach to contact you. With a little searching and perseverance, you will find a college or university where you can pursue an undergraduate degree and do it as a student-athlete, maybe even on academic and/or athletic scholarship.

It’s also important for you to know that there are college swimming programs across the country that offer great student-athlete experiences for a wide range of abilities. Many swimmers think that if they are not qualified for Junior Nationals, they can’t swim in college. This is simply not true. If you want to be a college swimmer and you are willing to do the work and be part of a team, there’s a place for you. From the NAIA to the NCAA, there are hundreds of collegiate swimming programs for men and women, many of which have scholarships available. Over the past several decades, Lakeridge Swim Team has been represented on college swim teams at a wide array of institutions, from Hawaii to Rhode Island. They have consistently enjoyed student-athlete experiences that have enriched their lives and we thoroughly recommend college swimming for those interested. Going through an undergraduate program as a student-athlete is a great way to go.
While there are many factors to consider as you are making your decision, here are a few things you can do to take a proactive approach to your college career.

  1. NCAA Eligibility Center NCAA Eligibility Center (formerly NCAA Clearing House) | National Scholastic Athletics Foundation
    All swimmers planning on swimming in college must register with the NCAA during the 11th grade. This is an important and necessary step for all prospective student-athletes, including students who Home School. The link provides all the information you need in terms of what forms you need to fill out, where to have your test scores sent, etc.
    Guide for the College-Bound Student Athlete

  2. NCAA Official Site, Winter, Swimming, Men’s or Women’s Swimming
    This website offers current news on all NCAA sports, including competition and Championship information and results.
    NCAA Men's Swimming

    NCAA Women's Swimming

  3. NCAA Online Resource
    This website will be a key resource for you in your search for programs that might be a good fit. Here you’ll find a list of all the schools that have swimming, the NCAA rules and regulations, and much more. For the list of schools, go to Sports & Championships, Winter, Men’s or Women’s Swimming:
    NCAA Schools that Sponsor Men’s or Women’s Swimming (Schools are listed alphabetically, with links to each school’s website, what conference they are in, and so on. Bookmark this page.
    Women’s Swimming, Division I
    Women’s Swimming, Division II
    Women’s Swimming, Division III
    Men’s Swimming, Division I
    Men’s Swimming, Division II
    Men’s Swimming, Division III

  4. College Scholarships and Financial Aid
    FinAid - The SmartStudent Guide to Financial Aid
    Sallie Mae Student Loans

  5. NAIA National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (governing body of small college athletic programs)
    Men's Swimming
    Women's Swimming

  6. Additional Resources
    USA Swimming 'Swimming into College'
    SwimSwam 'How to Find a Good College Swim Team'

  7. Once you find a few schools you are interested in, go to their websites and make sure they have the academic major(s) you are considering.

  8. Now ask yourself if you want to be a big fish in a small pond or a small fish in a big pond. By this I mean, do you want to go in as one of the best, be somewhere in the middle, or do you want to go into a program where you will need to work your way up through the ranks. Every swimmer is different, so this is an important question for you to address. Now that you are clear on this, go to the athletic websites of the schools you are interested in and look at their swimming times to see where you fit in your best events. You will also want to look at that school’s conference championship results from last year to see how you would have placed in your best events. The list of NCAA Sponsored Schools also lists the conference that each school is in. If you go to that conference’s website, you’ll be able to find swimming results.

  9. At the beginning of your senior year, after you have compiled a list of a few schools that you think might be good choices for you, write a letter to the swimming coach. Contact information for swimming coaches can be found on their school’s athletic websites, with each sport usually having their own page. I recommend that you also enclose a picture with your letter so the coach can attach a face to your name. College coaches get many letters from prospective athletes, and you want to set yourself apart, be it with a picture, your academic and athletic accomplishments, your best times, or all of these things. Here is a sample letter you might write to all the schools you are interested in. This is a letter written by a former Gold Group swimmer (Alex Weiss). It proved very effective in her search for a university that met both her academic and athletic goals, as well as provided her with the scholarship (athletic & academic) she worked for and needed to make it happen. You will want to make your letter personal to you, highlighting your own strengths as a student-athlete. If you need help composing your letter, please see Sharon. Be sure to also provide a list your best times and always note whether 200’s and above were done at altitude. For example, if your best time in the 500 free is 5:25, note in parentheses that this is a 5:20 alt conversion, as is done on the USA Swimming website.

Letter Sample (WORD Document download)

Swimming World Magazine College Recruit Rankings

This system was devised by Swimming World Magazine to give swimmers an idea of what to expect in terms of recruiting to NCAA Division I swimming programs in the country. Divisions II and III do not currently have a similar system we are aware of, but looking at various program profiles online (from Division class to current best times of team members) gives a great indication of whether or not a swimming program and school might be a fit for a particular swimmer.

  • 6-Star A swimmer with times that would have ranking in the previous year's NCAA A final and/or multiple B finals.
  • 5-Star A swimmer with times that would make B final and/or multiple qualifying marks (previous year's slowest qualifying time per event at Division I NCAA's) and/or multiple U.S. Olympic Trials cuts (OTC's).
  • 4-Star A swimmer with a qualifying mark (previous year's slowest qualifying time per event at Division I NCAA's) and/or multiple B cuts and/or one U.S. Olympic Trials cut (OTC).
  • 3-Star A swimmer with a B cut and/or USA Swimming Junior National cut
  • 2-Star A swimmer with National Club Swimming Association (NCSA) Junior National cut
  • 1-Star Everyone else

Marsteller, J. (2008). Recruiting: High school class of 2008. Swimming World Magazine, 49(4), p. 52-54.

Swimmers, best to you in your search. We are here to answer any questions you have.