Swimming is the sport that has historically produced the most Olympic participants and medal winners. At the 2016 Rio Olympics, for instance, 64 swimmers were current college swimmers, with many more being previous NCAA swimmers. Katie Ledecky, who just weeks after the Rio Olympics enrolled as a freshman at Stanford University, is one of several who have chosen the college route to further their academic careers after having experienced olympic success.
Am I eligible?
Having a high enough GPA or SAT/ACT score is the passport to obtaining a swimming scholarship. Achievements in the pool will count for nothing if you do not have the right academic grades. The College Sports America team has the ability and the experience to steer you through the qualification process. It is an integral element of our approach to carefully evaluate and help fulfil your personal potential by working with you to select a college program that will allow you to improve your grades if necessary.
Swimming scholarships are available for many international athletes, but obviously your personal best times, the competitions you have participated in, and your potential for further improvement are all factors that a swimming coach will consider before he offers a scholarship. Scholarships can be awarded in several divisions, including NCAA division 1, division 2, NAIA, and NJCAA.
While many NCAA swimmers have won gold medals at Olympic Games or World Championships, there is one rather unusual NCAA swimming anecdote which illustrates the strict conditions which apply. The most decorated Olympic swimmer of all time, Michael Phelps, actually worked as an assistant coach under Coach Bob Bowden at the University of Michigan, while taking sports management classes at the university. Phelps, unfortunately, could not swim for the team as he had previously accepted endorsement contracts, which therefore violated NCAA amateur rules.
Why swim in the USA as a Student Athlete?
Swimming scholarships in the USA represent one of the best options for high school students, wherever in the world they are currently studying and training. There are at present over 500 swimming programs on offer in the USA, all of which offer an Olympic sized pool and first class training facilities for their student-athletes.
Student athletes seeking a swimming scholarship in America will encounter some of the toughest training schedules in sports. The gruelling schedule includes early starts in the pool, followed by university or college classes, evening sessions and competitions. It is little wonder that America’s best swimming programs have played a major role in developing some of the best swimmers in the world into medal winners at World Championships and at the Olympics.
American university teams compete regionally and nationally. However, the competition for travel opportunities with the squad starts at practice. Qualifying for the travel team requires student swimmers to compete against teammates on a daily basis. This ensures that every session is vital to each athlete; it provides them with in-house competition to sharpen their competitive edge.
Here are some more important facts about college swimming and swimming scholarships:
- Number of NCAA Div 1 swimming teams: Men 135, Women 196
- Number of NCAA Div 2 swimming teams: Men 72, Women 94
- Total Number of swimming teams (all divisions): Men 515, Women 640
- Total number of college swimming players: Men c. 11000, Women c. 14000
- Scholarship limit per team: D1 Men: 9.9, D1 Women: 14, D2 Men&Women: 8.1, NAIA Men&Women: 8, NJCAA Men & Women: 15
- Former college swimmers: Ryan Lochte, Katie Ledecky, Allison Schmitt, Missy Franklin, Mark Spitz,