From the beginning I was a competitive swimmer and I knew that I wanted to swim in college. For swimming, and many sports, your junior year is the most important year. I cannot stress that enough. It is the year that colleges really start to take notice of who are the standout athletes.
Fortunately for me, I swam for a fantastic High School team where college coaches visited our program on a weekly basis. Once July came around coaches started calling and the process became very exciting. These calls were long, but gave me good insight into which schools were really interested. Coaches flew down to see me perform, eat dinner at my house and try to win me over. All of this attention was fantastic; however what it really came down to was what did I want? Where did I want to go to school? Where would I feel most comfortable? What program would take me the furthest? Being selective is very important as you do not want to waste the coach or your time. My advice is to also notice what coach is constantly contacting you, is it the assistant or is it the head coach?
I took my trips to University of Tennessee, Auburn University, University of Florida, Villanova University and Southern Methodist University. My first trip was to University of Tennessee very early on. For anyone going through recruitment make sure that you keep your eyes and mind open and dont let other programs no where you stand. Many programs assumed I was going to choose University of Tennessee, however I ended up deciding to go to Auburn University. I chose Auburn University because of my experience there, the great letter I received days after my visit, the fact that one of my high school teammates was in the program and of course that I new they would be a top program.
On a side note, Villanova University was amazing. I loved the small environment and that it was right outside of Philadelphia. The coach showed me an amazing trip and it was hard to inform him that I chose Auburn. Therefore, I made it a point to be friendly every time I saw him at a competition because you never know what lies in the future. Therefore, you should always be kind and considerate to the programs that you turn down and for me it paid off as a year after being at Auburn University, I decided it wasnt the right fit for me.
Once released, which is a process, I was able to start the school search and visiting process all over again. I looked at Notre Dame University, University of Virginia, Syracuse University and Villanova University. I was now one year older and wiser so to look at the academics first then the program. As it turned out, Villanova University was the perfect fit and I never to this day regret the decision I made to become a Wildcat.
As a high school athlete thinking of being a collegiate athlete you must weigh your pros and cons, think about now but also think about the future and open your mind to new locations and new experience. For me moving from Florida to the North East was an adjustment but one that allowed me to grow as a person as I explored a new cultural experiences. Also, look at the team and ask yourself if you would consider these people as family one day, because that is one college teammates end up being like.
The recruiting process is a blast, trust me, but do bring a journal and take notes. Be yourself, not someone else and listen to your heart and your head.