Emily A.’s Answer
Great question. The answer is a little tricky. The United States has a unique sports-to-education relationship. Most other colleges and universities in the world separate sports and education (they don't have a college swim team or soccer team etc). There are still teams you might be able to join while abroad but it likely wouldn't have anything to do with the university you attend. This doesn't mean that if you study abroad (which I highly encourage you to), that you can't play sports. I'm also a swimmer and when I studied abroad, I bought a local indoor pool-pass and swam there to keep up my physical activity, but I didn't have a scholarship. I also had friends who joined sport clubs outside of school while abroad.
The first thing to do is to see if you get recruited by a college for a swimming scholarship. If you don't get recruited or get a swimming scholarship, then you can freely go abroad without worry.
If you do get recruited, see what the terms and conditions are of your scholarship: is it a year-to-year scholarship? Can you take one year off to go abroad and swim again when you return?
Or is it a 4 year contract that, if broken, you lose your scholarship. Talk with the recruiter or coach to see what your options are.
If it comes down to where you have to pick one or the other, think long term- what are your plans for after college? If swimming is something you want to do professionally, then the choice should be to pick swimming over studying abroad.
If being a pro-swimmer is not in your career plans, then I would advise you go abroad over swimming. It gives you skills that employers look for- independence, communication, intercultural skills, open-mindedness, among many others that you can put on your resume and job applications. Not to mention, it's super exhilarating and life-changing!
Hope that helps!