USA TODAY High School Sports has a weekly column on the college recruiting process. Here, you’ll find practical tips and real-world advice on becoming a better recruit to maximize your opportunities and play at the college level. Jason Smith is a former NCAA DIII athlete and college coach at all three division levels. Jason is just one of many former college and professional athletes, college coaches and parents who are part of the Next College Student Athlete team. Their knowledge, experience and dedication, along with NCSA’s history of digital innovation and long-standing relationship with the college coaching community, have made NCSA the largest and most successful athletic recruiting network in the country.
College swimming camps offer student-athletes a chance to increase their recruiting exposure and get evaluated by coaches, making them an important part of the recruiting process. College swimming camps are especially helpful for swimmers who may not have a lot of access to recruiting exposure in their region, allowing athletes to hone their skills and potentially check out a college they’re interested in.
However, researching the right camps to attend and finding prices for each one can be a time-consuming process for families that don’t have a lot of time to spare. That’s why NCSA has compiled a definitive list of every college men’s and women’s (and coed) swimming camp in the country. You will also find the date, age level and cost of each college swimming camp, potentially saving you hours of research time. Check them out here:
What does a swimming camp invitation mean?
Not every college swimming camp invite is the same. If you’ve received a camp invite from a coach you’ve been communicating with, that’s a great sign and likely means that you’re on that coach’s radar. However, if an invite you’ve received looks generic, you’re probably not on that coach’s radar yet. You’ll get the most out of camp if coaches know who you are, so make an effort to build a relationship with coaches ahead of time. If you can’t attend, you should still make sure to respond to all your camp invites. This way, you can still try to connect with coaches and even share your highlight video.
Before you register for camp
A great college swimming camp experience is largely a result of good preparation. First, do your research on the school and program before you register for camp. Attending a camp is a great opportunity to improve your skills and get recruiting exposure, but the decision to do so should be based on your family’s budget and your level of experience.
If you have received a camp invite to a college on your list and your family can afford it, you should consider attending. Even if you’re not a serious recruit for that program, you can get valuable camp experience. If you’re working with a tight budget, focus on your target schools or look at who else will be in attendance at the camp in question. If coaches from other colleges will be present, especially ones from schools you are considering, it might be worth stretching your budget to attend. It’s valuable to get seen by multiple college coaches in one camp. However, if you can’t afford a camp, make sure to still respond to your invite.
Student-athletes need to be strategic in choosing the right college swimming camp to attend since just showing up won’t guarantee you’ll get noticed by college coaches. Make sure to connect with coaches before attending to get on their recruiting radar and improve your chances of getting evaluated.
What are the different types of swimming camps?
- College camp: colleges host their own swimming camps, in which they invite recruits to their campus and athletes also sign up independently. Camps often span multiple days and athletes stay overnight. Swimmers perform drills and coaches evaluate athletes so they can get a better idea of their strengths and weaknesses.
- Clinic: often spanning one day and focusing on an aspect of swimming like starts and turns.
What to expect at swimming camps
Don’t forget to be honest about your own capabilities as a swimmer. If you’re a more technically advanced swimmer, you’ll want to look for competitive swimming camps where you’ll be challenged and truly benefit from coaches reviewing your underwater footage and technique. If you’re less advanced, you may want to opt for a camp that will help you hone your technique.
Camps can focus on a single stroke or all strokes, as well as sprints or longer distances. They can also include videotaping with review of all four strokes, underwater kick, surface kick, open and freestyle turns and a start. Additional topics can include nutrition, flexibility, mental preparation, goal setting, and dryland exercises. With so many things that camps can focus on, it’s important to do your research ahead of time and pick the right camp for you.
How to make the most of your college swimming camp experience
Make the most of your camp experience by following a few simple tips:
- Be prompt. College coaches notice student-athletes who arrive late. Double check registration and start times to ensure you’ll get there early.
- Bring all the essentials. You’ll want to be at your best when competing in front of college coaches. Make sure you have all the equipment you need to do just that: swimsuit, goggles, swim cap, towel, water bottle, etc. You can check the camp’s website, too, as it often outlines everything you should bring.
- Stay positive. College coaches look for recruits who are coachable, so they’ll evaluate your body language and attitude on and off the field. It’s important to stay positive because it shows coaches that you’re mentally tough.
- Check out campus. Stick around after camp and visit the university to get a feel for the campus. If there’s another college nearby, make the most of your day and check out that one, too. Seeing a college campus in person can help you decide if it’s the right fit for you.
Make sure to follow up after the camp
Once you’ve left camp, your camp effort isn’t actually over. Maintaining communication with college coaches Is extremely important, so after camp you’ll want to follow up with coaches and thank them for the opportunity. You can also ask them about which skills you need to improve. Afterward, whenever you have noteworthy updates to share, such as new video or verified stats, email them about your progress. Building relationships with college coaches is essential to staying on their radar and getting an offer.
Read more: How to email college coaches