You don't have to be the next Michael Phelps to land a swimming scholarship, nor do you have to dive a perfect 10 - but in order to receive a generous scholarship, especially in top program universities and colleges, you definitely must have an impressive track record and statistics. In high-visibility NCAA conferences like the Big Ten, fast times and scores are crucial. College coaches start recruiting prospective team members while they are still in their junior or senior year of high school. Therefore, getting a scholarship is largely dependent on personal performance in the water - but progress and potential are just as crucial. Coaches scout for not only the most talented athletes but also the ones who show the most promise and potential for growth at the collegiate level.
In addition to fast times and solid dive scores, coaches are interested in swimmers who are very diverse and versatile in their strokes. Often, collegiate swimmers change up their stroke or yardage in college, depending on the team's demographic and need. If a coach needs to strengthen a certain aspect of the team - say, the distance group - they may move their swimmers into different events. Coaches of course still value the strength and performance of a swimmer who excels in their primary stroke. Likewise, divers who try and execute higher-difficulty dives are valued. They key to success and increasing scholarship opportunities is consistency and improvement. Swimmers who are routinely dropping their times and improving their scores are more valuable that those who can only perform well once or twice throughout the season.
Swimming/diving scholarships are not only reserved for Division I or Big Ten athletes, so don't rule out smaller programs when applying for scholarships. You could be a big fish in a little pond, or a little fish in a big pond. Typically, the better the swim team, the harder it is to get a spot on the team, and the less funding you'll receive if you are not one of the top-performing athletes. Coaches are looking to attract the best team possible rather than spending a good portion of their funding on one athlete. Coaches in top-tier programs will grant the largest scholarship dollars to the best swimmer/divers, but athletes whose performance improves throughout their collegiate career may be eligible to receive more scholarship money. Scholarships can be full-rides or partial scholarships and even if you are not the strongest swimmer on the team but still wish to compete, you can tryout and serve as a walk-on. Based on your season performance, you may be eligible to receive more scholarship money.
Scholarships will be regulated by associations such as the NCAA or NAIA, depending on your school, so be sure to check the recruiting rules that govern your school of interest, or talk to the university's or college's head coach. Remember that athletic performance alone will not guarantee scholarship nor will it be the only criteria necessary to receive a scholarship. Schools and coaches look for strong GPA and academic records when recruiting - it shows them that their prospective athletes will be able to manage the academic rigor of the school in addition to competing. In fact, certain programs require a minimum GPA while being on the team, in order to continue participation - you may lose your scholarship if you fail to uphold that standard.
For additional information about swimming/diving scholarships and awards based on different criteria, try conducting a free college scholarship search at Scholarships.com.
Augustana College Athletic Grant
To be considered for scholarships at Augustana based on academic performance and/or talent requires a completed Application for Admission and Scholarship. Students must earn at least a 3.0 GPA while enrolled at Augustana to maintain these scholarships in subsequent years.
Augustana Athletic Grants are awarded to outstanding student-athletes; NCAA Division II, Northern Sun Intercollegiate [...] More
CSUB Albert Holloway Memorial Scholarship
Application Deadlines: March 22, Annually
This scholarship was established in memory of Albert Holloway who served for many years on the Academic Support, Intercollegiate Athletics, Nominating, and Student Support Committees of the Foundation. He was a great supporter of academics, extracurricular, student service programs, and the athletic program.
-Must be a student-athlete at California State University - Bakersfield [...] More
CSUB Bob Black Memorial Scholarship
Application Deadlines: April 08, Annually
This memorial scholarship was established by family and friends in honor of Bob Black, to support the CSU Bakersfield Women's Swimming program. Award Criteria: to be used for CSU Bakersfield Women's Swim Team.
For more information or to apply, please visit the scholarship provider's website. [...] More
Elizabeth Horvath Swimming Scholarship Fund
Application Deadlines: March 15, Annually
This fund was established by Stephanie Hunsberger to commemorate the influence that her grandmother, Elizabeth Horvath had on Stephanie's achievements and focus toward goals. Elizabeth encouraged Stephanie to remember that in difficult times we must fill our hearts with understanding and compassion, always focusing on the improvement of ourselves. Elizabeth inspired Stephanie to remember that [...] More
The Zale Parry Scholarship
Application Deadlines: August 31, Annually
Candidates eligible for the scholarship are college students who are seeking to advance their knowledge or enter a professional career in the fields of underwater research, equipment technology or hyperbaric research. The Zale Parry Scholarship is administered by The Academy of Underwater Arts and Sciences.
The purpose of the Zale Parry Scholarship is to offer financial support to individuals [...] More
Last Reviewed: February 2017
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