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How difficult is it to swim competitively in college with relatively low experience?

I am a junior, and this is my first year swimming competitively. I love it a lot, but I'm worried that my lateness to the sport will limit my options as far as carrying my swimming "career" into college. I'm decently fast for how long I've been competing--I currently swim a 1:08.13 for the 100 free, 1:31.20 for the 100 fly, and a 0:31.77 for the 50 free (all short course, women's events), and I'm expecting to drop even more time for my last meet of the season (which takes place next week). I've dropped 13 seconds on my 100 free, 40 seconds on my 100 fly, and 7 seconds on my 50 free since the start of the season, and I think I have the potential to be even faster--but the problem is that I don't have enough time/experience to drop my times to anything super incredible. I feel like, given the opportunity in college, I could do even more, but I want to know what odds I'm up against based the experience I have. I know it varies from college to college, so my main picks are BYU, University of Utah, Stanford, or really any other good universities (particularly in the West, but I've considered University of Maryland, etc--nothing outside the US). How do I stack up? Obviously swimming for Stanford (or even going to Stanford) is most likely not going to happen, but if anyone has any advice for being able to swim in college, please let me know! #swimming #stanford #byuprovo #college #sports


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Amara’s Answer

Hi Jeniel! I will be honest with you. Playing a sport in college is a challenge, but it’s definitely something you can accomplish, and it’s very rewarding. I was a collegiate athlete at the Division I level at the University of Texas at Arlington. The experience doesn’t play so much of a role in getting the chance to participate at the collegiate level. There are a lot of factors that can play a role. In my case, my qualities as a student and my academic record helped me earn a scholarship to play over other possible recruits. A lot of coaches stress that you are a STUDENT-athlete, which means you are a student first. They want someone who is passionate and competitive in their sport, but they also want someone that will represent their school well in the classroom, on campus, on the court or in the pool, and in public in general. My advice to you is to keep working on your swimming skills, but maintain your focus on your studies first. Reach out to some of the coaching staff at schools you are interested in. Keep your head up and keep improving! Stay optimistic, and work hard. You can do this!


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Taylor’s Answer

Hi Jeniel! I love this question - and I was a swimmer in college so would like to give you my thoughts. I wanted an academic focus first, and then the swimming to come secondary (while both are still important to me!) I also was not one of the top swimming athletes in the state of Texas, so I decided to pursue a Division 3 college that had a good swimming program, but also was focused on academics and getting a good education first. This experience was so great for me and I would highly recommend it! While it was not a Division 1 athletics school, there was still incredibly tough competition, fun swim meetings, and the team bonding aspect was great. Plus, the swim coach would support anytime I needed to focus on school work. My advice to you would be to find a list of Division 3 colleges that have strong academic programs as well and see if any of those schools could work for you! Since Division 3 typically has smaller athletic programs, I found it very easy to get in touch with their athletic staff and swim coaches. My other huge advice would be to do an on-site visit or overnight stay if at all possible. I narrowed my college search down to 2 schools, and the overnight stay really solidified my decision! Best of luck to you - and I'm super excited for you!

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