Swimming Scholarships for College

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If you're a serious swimmer, you may qualify for a swimming scholarship.
If you're a serious swimmer, you may qualify for a swimming scholarship. (Image: Goodshoot RF/Goodshoot/Getty Images)

Many colleges offer sports-based scholarships to students excelling in certain sports, including swimming. Athletic Scholarships are regulated by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). If you are interested in obtaining a swimming scholarship, a good starting place is to register with the NCAA. The organization can help you connect with colleges offering swimming scholarships in your state.

Number of Available Scholarships

The NCAA has divided colleges into Division I, II and III, depending on the size of their infrastructure, athletic power and budget. Colleges in Division I and Division II can offer athletic scholarships. In swimming, Division I colleges are allowed 9.9 scholarships for men and 14 scholarships for women while Division II colleges are allowed 8.1 scholarships for both men and women. Currently, 134 Division I and 54 Division II colleges offer swimming scholarships to men, and 192 Division I colleges and 73 Division II colleges offer scholarships to women. This means there are a total of 1,764 swimming and diving scholarships for men and 3,279.3 scholarships for women.

Amount of Scholarship

The NCAA has classified swimming as an “equivalency” sport. This means that coaches have the discretion of dividing a scholarship between more than one athlete. One full scholarship means a complete fee waiver. But it is common to receive only 20 or 30 percent of the scholarship, especially in the freshman year.

Standard of Swimming at College Level

If you hope to receive a swimming and diving scholarship, you must be aware that the standard of competition at the college level is very high, and many high school students may feel intimidated. Also, athletes who can compete in several events are in much more demand than those who specialize in just one or two strokes.

Improving Your Chances of Getting a Scholarship

Even though a large number of swimming and diving scholarships are available, the competition is intense, and so you may have to market yourself aggressively to get noticed by the coaches. You may also register with National Collegiate Scouting Association to help you connect with coaches. Initial membership to the Association is free, and custom membership costs about $3 per day. If you would rather contact the coaches on your own, fsatweb.com is a good place to start searching for available scholarships. It may also be a good idea to prepare a video of yourself to show to the coaches.

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