Initially, I had no intentions to swim in college and only swam because it was fun and I enjoyed the competition. However, once I got to high school I realized I might be able to get more out of swimming then fun and competition, so I started to swim year round for a team outside of Richmond. As time went on I outgrew my team and switched to a more competitive team and participated in many more meets. I had goals of swimming in college and needed to get the most out of each team I swam for and each meet I was involved in.
By my junior year of high school I was talking to different friends I had made in the swim community. Theses friends all swam in college and I immediately was interested in their programs. Since I was not a national star I took it upon myself to make contact with as many schools as possible. I emailed schools from the Atlantic Coast Conference, Big Ten Conference, Big East Conference, and even the Southeastern Conference. Surprisingly most returned my emails. I had originally set up visits with Virginia Tech, University of Pittsburgh, North Carolina State University, University of South Carolina and University of Alabama. I ended up only taking official visits to University of Pittsburgh and North Carolina State University though. These were my top two schools so I decided signing early was important to me and I did not want to chance giving away a spot on these two schools teams if I did not sign early.
I enjoyed both schools and the academic and athletic opportunities they offered, but my decision was easy. I chose North Carolina State University because of the family environment. I really liked the coaching staff and knew I would fit in with the close knit team. It is very important to think about getting along with team when choosing a school since when you pick a school you really do pick a family. I eat, live, and train with my teammates on a daily basis. We dont spend more than a couple hours apart ever in day so its important that you feel comfortable with the team.
I am so glad I chose North Carolina State University. The coaching staff and team have helped me to better myself as an athlete and a student. Ive made my best friends over my time here and I would not trade it for anything. My teammates will always be there for me and I would do the same. Ill always be a part of this team and we will share more together than just competition.
Start the process as early as possible
Do your research about the school from an academic and athletic standpoint
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.
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