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Timelines, Deadlines & The Nuances of the Swimming & Diving Recruiting Process

Written By: Dan Tudor

While recruiting swimmers and divers to a college program never actually ends, we’re entering the time of year when many coaches are trying to manage the decision making process when it comes to the prospects they’re recruiting, and do what we’ve instructed when it comes to the importance of establishing timelines and deadlines with their recruits. But like everything else in recruiting, there is a good degree of nuance when it comes to approaching individual recruits the right way, which is what I want to help define for swimming and diving coaches wanting to control the process the best they can.

And, I’ll use an actual recruiting situation from a Division I coach I was exchanging emails with this past fall about his approach, and how I recommended altering it to achieve the best possible results (my comments are in bold):


We have made all of our initial roster spot offers and given them until Nov 1 to decide. My question is how much the data says we should keep contacting/pushing these recruits before that deadline?

It’s not all about ‘contacting’ them; instead, it’s about continually telling the story of your swimming program, your university, and what you’re all about as a coach. The most important aspect of this approach is simple: Don’t let communication and the story lapse or go silent...that's a bigger negative to prospects as the process continues, by far, because prospects usually interpret that silence as disinterest on your part. That’s unfair to you, of course, because all you’re probably doing is trying to give them space and not feeling pressured to make a decision, but they tend to read that professionalism as a negative. At a time when they most need direction, college swimming and diving coaches who back away in the interest of seeming ‘fair’ end up doing more harm to themselves than good.

And one other minor point: I recommend outlining a 15-20 day date range for their deadline, rather than a specific date. So in this case, rather than a hard date of November 1st, tell them that you’ll be wrapping up your recruiting around late October/early November, or early to mid-November. It sounds more fair, especially if you’re giving prospects that timeline and deadline months in advance.

Last important thing I want to mention: The deadline we’re talking about here is the latest that they could commit to swim for your program. We want them to commit prior to that, and should be asked beforehand…they can always say ‘not yet’, which is fine as long as they understand that your deadline is the latest they can come aboard, whether that’s accepting a walk-on spot, a partial scholarship, or a full scholarship. Even you were a Division III coach, the same applies: That date is the latest they could commit to your roster, regardless of what their academic financial package is.

Lots more on timelines and deadlines for swimming and diving coaches right here.

I am continuing to send them a weekly email and we are texting them around every two weeks, but we are not necessarily asking them about where they are leaning. Does the data say keep asking or to give them time to decide without us in their ear?

No need to ask in the messaging that you are sending them (emails, letters and other outbound messaging), but it's fine if it's occasionally done in text or phone calls.

You asking where they are leaning is a natural outflow of the process they, and you, are involved in. In addition, because so many swimming prospects have worked years to get to this point in the process, it’s an important aspect of what they are looking for from every college swimming and diving coach. Because of that, I also suggest that you ask follow-up questions if they answer ‘not yet’ in your conversation about committing with them:

  • “What are you still trying to figure out about us and our program?”

  • “What other programs are you also leaning towards as you come down to your final decision?”

  • “What are you parents saying about everything right now?”

We also have some of the guys we offered spots to that haven't visited. What are your suggestions to try and make that happen? I realize that not visiting is a pretty good indicator that they are not coming our way, but I want to try and get them here, as the visit sells the school really well.

Similar to what I’m suggesting on the deadline and timeline when it comes to a decision, I would give them a general date range that they need to be on campus or else you'll have to move on. And as you do that, ask them why it's been hard for them to schedule a visit up to this point...that'll give you a good indication of what's really going on behind the scenes, and if they’ve had some good reasons for not being able to make the trip to this point, or if it’s just a case of dragging their feet.

As a reader of the Streamline Teams blog, these are main points you should be taking away from this, in my opinion:

  • Establish the timeline and deadline for the date range that is the latest they could make a decision and give you a verbal commitment. And, establish it as early as possible in the process.

  • Ask them commit using the formula we’ve outlined several times over the years, using the recommended process outlined and developed by the recruits themselves.

  • Most importantly, don’t be afraid to walk away from an uninterested recruit. If you’ve done a good job telling your story through consistent, response-oriented messaging, there’s no reason to think you’ve left anything out. At the end of the day, you will lose most of the recruits on your list. That’s just a mathematical byproduct of this process. The key for successful recruiting is to make sure you know if a recruit isn’t coming sooner rather than later, and then taking action on that knowledge as soon as possible.

The key takeaway from this? It’s simple: Establishing timelines and deadlines for your recruiting class is the key to building a consistently good program through consistently good recruiting classes. Most college swimming and diving coaches aren’t taking the time to understand this key concept, and integrate the approach into their own program’s recruiting system. The results can be devastating, but the solution is actually fairly simple…it just takes a coach with determination and an understanding of the typical prospect’s mindset to achieve consistent, winning recruiting results.

Dan Tudor is a regular speaker at the CSCAA and is the Founder of Tudor Collegiate Strategies, a nationally respected athletic recruiting advisory firm that specializes in training coaching staffs to communicate and recruit their prospects more effectively. Dan has been referred to as “America’s recruiting coordinator” thanks to his company’s cutting-edge strategies, research and ongoing advice to the college coaching community. Dan and his team at Tudor Collegiate Strategies conducts recruiting workshops at athletic departments around the country, as well as serving several hundred individual coaching staffs as clients as he and his staff help to craft their recruiting strategy and communication. You can contact Dan directly at


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