A note from Badger Parent Advocate, Michael Conaton:

Thanks for your comments from last week’s letter.

As of the date of this writing, I have heard about Badger’s David Stewart and Jack Collins announcing their commitments to Notre Dame and Indiana, respectively. Congratulations to David and Jack and of course to their parents and families for their years of support and sacrifice! I’m sorry if I have missed others announced.

We are generally late in the recruiting cycle (can start as early as freshman-sophomore year) but early in the commitment and signing cycle (November, early signing, April-August regular signing, commit anytime) for this year’s seniors. It occurs to me that we can offer a quick review of what the broad timelines are for our high school swimmers interested in considering college swimming.

From the NCAA’s perspective, to be recruited and/OR to swim at the collegiate level, you must register and be academically eligible with the NCAA. One of this week’s attachments outlines the basic steps. Very generally, you can begin registering with the NCAA at the beginning of your sophomore year at www.eligibilitycenter.org. During your junior year (or whenever your child takes the SATs/ACTs) be sure and send results to the NCAA entering code “9999”on your test notifications. Finally your senior year you will have to have your school send your final transcript to be deemed eligible. This is the organized way to do it. I’m aware of all of this being done in a couple day fire drill before the first day of college practice, but this is not recommended!

From the coach’s perspective, visit this link to a good old article:

In short, fast swims can get on coaches’ radar screens as early as freshman or sophomore year but clearly this is not the norm. By September 1st of your child’s junior year, DI and DII schools can start to send mail. By July 1 before your senior year, coaches can start to call the kids. You can contact a coach or school at any time and they can respond. After September 1, up to 5 paid visits can be offered to seniors. During junior year, “junior days” are becoming more popular whereby larger numbers of kids can be invited by coaches to attend a tour and information session on campus as a group, at your expense. Parents are typically welcomed.

Having said all this – most kids do not get scholarships or even get recruited. I am not going to harp on the numbers as I do not believe in negativity. I believe every kid has a chance and should aspire for scholarships or to be recruited if that’s what they want. Of course it’s bloody competitive out there as we all know.

There is still a place for prospective collegiate swimmers out there if that’s what the kids really want. You just have to do a little more leg work (and swim fast, of course). Filling out online applications and questionnaires makes it a little easier to explore. Do it! – Preferably early your junior year to establish long term interest and get on the radar. Find schools and conferences that best fit your time ranges now and also your kids’ times with a reasonable improvement trajectory. Again, all of this is online. Visit schools and arrange meetings with coaches when you are there! Get your name out there and establish a dialogue and any hook you can (team or family legacy, school or curriculum affinity, etc.). Most coaches are very direct about your kids’ prospects. Some are more diplomatic with the delivery than others, but the candor should be appreciated. I’ll stop there in the interest of length, but can share more on all this if you like in a conversation. I may be able to help with some knowledge of certain schools and coaches or can try to put you in touch with the right folks. Obviously John and the coaching staff will also give guidance to your kids when the time comes. Make sure your kids ask!

Finally, let me conclude by attaching one of my favorite articles about “Walk-Ons” from The Stanford Magazine back in 2007. Again, not everyone can get a scholarship or even be recruited. The article describes all of the distinguishing characteristics possessed by those “true” walk-ons “who knock on a coach’s door out of the blue, and prove they have the chops to make the roster”. Many times those traits are incredibly infectious and very desirable for a coach to have on his/her team.  And of course the swimmer benefits as well, being admired by a coach for his/her hard work and embraced by 25 teammates with unconditional acceptance – An incredible way to start a college experience away from home, if that’s what your kids want.

More articles to come…if you have any comments or questions about this or any other topic please contact me at mikecbadger@gmail.com to make an appointment or call.


Michael Conaton, Badger Swim Club Inc. and Badger Swimming Inc. accept no liability for the content of this article, or for the consequences of any actions taken on the basis of the information provided.

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