There is no time more exciting, or more stressful, than fall semester of senior year of high school. This is the period when swimmers become eligible to go on recruiting trips to different colleges to check out their campus, their facilities and their team. As a potential student athlete (PSA), swimmers are permitted to go on five trips paid for by the colleges they are visiting. These are “Official” visits, as the college goes through the trouble of paying for travel, food and board. There is also the option for “Unofficial” visits. These are similar to official visits, but they come at the expense of the athlete themselves.
Recruit trips are a great opportunity to experience the culture and atmosphere of a team. On a trip, the PSA is given a chance to observe classes, practice and team activities to see if a team is the right fit for them. Often, teams organize fun activities and events in order to bring everyone together to make it easier for the PSA to mingle and see all team members interact.
Recruit trips are a vital part of college swimming. That is why there are a few key things to pay attention to that are often overlooked by PSAs.
The first thing to look out for is how a team utilizes its athletic facilities. Not all college teams have state of the art pools. In the end what matters is not how nice the pool is, but how well the team uses the space it provides. A quality work environment can be produced in any pool and is an important aspect look out for.
Another thing to take note is the type of dryland each team does. Often, PSAs get too distracted with the frills of a college weight room to notice the dryland programs ran by each team. All college teams will have a different style of dryland. Some will run often, some will do cross-fit and some will focus on core work. No matter the style, it is important to notice what type of dryland a team gravitates towards in order to see if that type of conditioning is appropriate for the PSA.
The last thing to look for is the smaller interactions between teammates. On recruit trips, all members of the team will get along with each other during the planned activities. It wouldn’t do the team any good for its members to be bickering the entire time PSAs were present. However, just because a team appears to get along doesn’t mean they are that close in real life. It is important to pay attention to the smaller details of conversation in order to pick up how close a team really is. Do they talk about other times they regularly hang out? Do they seem to know a lot about each others personal lives? These are all things that tell how close a team truly is.
Recruiting season can be one of the most stressful periods of high school. Having to choose between colleges can be overwhelming and difficult, but the purpose of recruit trips is to help ease this choice by allowing PSAs to feel out where they belong best. By looking out for all the little things, any PSA can find the college where they truly belong.