Earning a swimming scholarship to a US university will allow you the opportunity to pursue both an academic and swimming career simultaneously. This means that you will be studying for a university degree – in a subject of your choice – whilst training and competing at an elite level, akin to that of professional sport.
Life as a college swimmer is extremely challenging and will involve being fully committed as both a full-time athlete whilst simultaneously pursuing a degree as a full-time student. It is an environment that produces most of America’s professional and Olympic athletes.
College swimming coaches are looking for athletes who work just as hard in the classroom as they do in the pool. The swimming recruiting process is about being able to show improvement over the course of your high school career with clear potential.
These are the general guidelines for what coaches look for in a swimmer. If you don’t have the times yet, it doesn’t mean you can’t swim at that level, only that these are the averages. If you want to know if you are good enough to swim at a specific college, check their team website to see what times their swimmers are posting at meets. The following times are short course times and in yards.
The number of scholarships available varies by division level. Finding the right fit for you comes down to looking at scholarship opportunities and where your abilities fit.
Not all US colleges that are eligible to offer scholarships will choose to do so. For example, Ivy League schools choose not to offer athletic scholarships. Swimming is an equivalency sport, which means all scholarships are not full scholarships, and coaches may divide the total number of scholarships allotted to them between as many athletes as they wish. Swimming and diving share scholarship money, which means that they must divide up the scholarship amount in between both sports. Some swim teams choose not to have a diving team so that they can focus their scholarship money on swimmers.