See how you can stand out in the pool and in the recruiting pool.

While their ultimate goal is to help you become a better swimmer, many swim camps can also help with your recruiting. The key is to find the camps that can do both. That is, find the camps that can help improve your swimming technique while also raising your visibility as a potential recruit. What’s the best camp for you? Follow these tips:

Find Your Lane

To find the best swim camp for you, start by taking an honest assessment of your swim skills. Are you elite in every stroke or do you still need to work on your technique? If you fall into the latter category you’ll likely be better served to choose a camp where you can find out what you need to do to ramp up your skills. If you’re already swimming at a high level, finding a camp that can fine-tune your technique while also allowing you to showcase your skills in front of college coaches might be more beneficial. Whatever your skill level, the best camp for you will challenge you and help you improve your technique. Aim too high or too low and you won’t be able to improve, and that won’t help you as a swimmer or as a recruit.

In addition to different camps for different abilities, swim camps can be dedicated to improving all strokes or focused to emphasize just one stroke. Further, while the majority of swim camps happen in the summer months, you may also consider a winter camp. Winter camps are most often held during holiday breaks in late December or early January and, while the larger camps are held in warm-weather locales, you can look for local camps if your travel budget is tight.

Know What You’re Diving Into

If you’re not sure about how your skills might mesh with a given camp, the easiest thing to do is to reach out to the camp, relay where you stand as a swimmer now and your goals for the future, and ask if you’ll be a good fit for that camp. Ask about individual coaching time and strength and flexibility training. Find out how much is devoted to technique and practicing starts and turns. Will there be sessions on race strategy and mental preparation? What about nutrition or other activities?

In addition, find out who’s running the camp and who will be providing the instruction. If there’s a particular club, coach, or program you want to work with via a camp, make sure you’ll get what you pay for before you sign up.

Note that, for elite swimmers, many high-level camps are invitation-only. But don’t let the exclusivity stop you from doing your due diligence. Find out the answer to all the questions above before you commit so that you can be sure the camp you attend will foster your skills rather than just fundraising for the sponsor’s program.

Finally, know your family’s budget. Overnight camps will always be more expensive than day camps since room and board is provided. Plus, if it’s not nearby, you’ll also need to budget for transportation to and from the camp. Also, expect to pay more for elite-level camps and those with higher-profile coaches or clubs.

How Can You Make A Recruiting Splash?

So now that you know how to find the camp that’s right for you, it’s also time to think about how it can help your recruiting. If you’re a high school junior or senior, your focus should be on camps, combines, or showcases where you can show off your skills to college coaches. Even if you still have some things to work on, the potential you show at a swim camp or combine is what can get you on a college swim coach’s recruiting radar. If you’re a freshman or sophomore, the technique you show now, and the potential you show to improve over time, is what will get you noticed. Given the current state of swim recruiting, the sooner you catch a coach’s eye, the better.

Regardless of the camp you choose, take time to get to know the coaches and instructors. That’s especially true if a camp is held at a college facility. Even if you’re not on a coach’s recruiting list, the impression you make in person and in the water can start the recruiting ball rolling. In addition, you can reach out to coaches beforehand and follow up with them later. And, as an added bonus, camps sponsored by college programs can also give you time to check out the facilities and tour the campus so you can get a feel for what you might want as part of your college experience.

Though there are almost 700 schools offering varsity swimming programs, making one of those teams will still require plenty of work and a scholarship may be even more difficult to earn. So, when you’re considering swim camps, make sure those you attend will help you improve in the pool while also helping you stand out in the recruiting pool.

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