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Thread: New Zealander wants to swim at US College -advice please

  1. #1
    Participating Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2018
    New Zealand

    New Zealander wants to swim at US College -advice please

    My son is 16 yrs old, 2 years left a High School here in NZ. He is interested in swimming at a US College when he finishes HS. Looking for some advice re what level he could potentially target (Div 1? Ivy League - he is a very strong academic). Should we approach College's directly or use one of the recruiting agencies (we can afford to pay for this). When should we start the process?

    Given University is comparatively low cost in NZ would only be interested in a full ride. Academic strength is more important than the swimming too. Am I right in understanding that the Ivy League schools only offer academic scholarships?

    Some of his current times (I have converted these to short course yards):
    50 free 21.8
    100 free 49.3
    50 back 24.5
    100 back 52.7
    200 back 1:57.1
    50 breast 28.7
    100 breast 1:01.2
    200 IM 2:02.5

  2. #2
    Very Active Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2002
    Beaverton, Oregon

    Re: New Zealander wants to swim at US College -advice please

    Fast Kiwi,

    You are correct that the Ivy League only offers academic/financial assistance and, for the most part, they are "need blind" when it comes to paying for tuition. They do not offer athletic scholarships. D-III is the same way. D-II and D-I can offer athletic scholarships (unless that conference has chosen not to).

    IMO, which college to attend should be based on the academics and career goals instead of the swimming program. In many college, the attrition rate for swimmers is close to 50% - meaning half of them are not competing by the time they are seniors (lots of reasons). Would hate for your son to pick a college on the basis of swimming and not like the college if he quits.

    This is why, my opinion again, deciding on a college at 16 (sophomore) is way too early - their thoughts are based on dreams at that age instead of reality.

    I strongly encourage you to look at the college times - go to and start looking at the divisions and conferences. Your son's times are good times. Unfortunately, he won't be making the travel squad in many conferences. Yes, he is likely to improve over the next couple of years and into college along with everyone else. I don't want to sound dismissive of your son's abilities, but you do need to understand the depth of the talent pool. At least one IVY League coach I know, is only looking at swimmers with Senior National qualifying times.

    After coaching at the college level (D-III) for 8 years, I adopted the philosophy that, for 99% of the kids, they should select a school where they are in the 25% of the academics and, if they choose, athletics. This allows them to thrive instead of struggle.

    My suggestion - contact a couple of the schools (academics and athletics) you hear about and chat with them. 10 years ago, I would have suggested he focus on D-III because he would fit in the swimming arena and get great academics (Emory, Kenyon, Denison, Johns Hopkins, etc). Not any more. So, with that in mind, I come back to finding a school that has the, first, academics he wants and, second, a team he can be a part of.

    Good Luck.

    paul Windrath

    ps - The IVY League school are tough to get into. Last year, Dartmouth had over 24,000 applicants. They accepted just over 2,000 for a class of 1,100. SAT scores are most in the 2300+ range. And, Dartmouth is not unique in these stats - the others are the same way.
    Last edited by Windrath; December 1st, 2018 at 06:59 PM.

  3. #3
    Participating Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2018
    New Zealand

    Re: New Zealander wants to swim at US College -advice please

    Thanks for the info Paul.

    Academics is definitely the priority for him and us. Re his swimming I think he has a lot of room for improvement as his training load is light (normal week 6xpool, 2xgym) and he is still growing (6' and 160lb at the moment, I was 6'3 180 at age 18 and his Mother is alot taller than mine was).

    He's in the top 3 students in his class of 250, IQ high 140's. Don't know how that will translate to SAT score down the track but I guess those Dartmouth ratio's don't scare me. Nothing ventured nothing gained!

    I agree re too soon to make any decisions and he know's that too. Needs to see how his swimming progresses over the next 2 years and what his focus is academically; for instance he is interested in business and engineering which he could do a double degree in here.

    Thanks again

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