Swimmers at the top NCAA DI colleges are among the world’s best. In order to find a swimming scholarship opportunity and understand how college swimming recruiting works you need to look closely at the times swum by a particular program and be honest in your assessment of yourself. Unless you feel you can come in as a freshman and contribute points at the conference and national level for a swimming program it is going to be very difficult to get a swimming scholarship.

Breaking down swimming scholarships

There are over 460 men’s college swimming programs. There are 134 NCAA DI, 54 NCAA DII, 198 NCAA DIII, 20 NAIA and 56 NJCAA swimming programs across the country.

At the women’s level there are over 580 programs with 192 NCAA DI, 73 NCAA DII, 233 NCAA DIII, 24 NAIA and 59 NJCAA schools across the country.

Women’s swimming programs have up to 14 scholarships per team at the NCAA DI level, 8.1 per team NCAA DII, 8 for NAIA schools and 15 scholarships at the NJCAA level.

Men’s programs have fewer scholarships available with 9.9 scholarships at the NCAA DI level, 8.1 at the NCAA DII, 8 for NAIA programs and 15 per team at the NJCAA level.

Use our COLLEGE SEARCH TOOL to find the best swimming colleges… Make up your own list of swimming colleges that fit your academic and athletic profile. A list of NCAA swimming colleges can also be found here.  Division I CollegesDivision II CollegesDivision III Colleges.

Learn how to get on top of the college swimming recruiting process.

Breaking down scholarships by stroke

Every program has more swimmers than scholarships. Scholarships go to the swimmers that can score the most points for their program at the conference and national level. While each coach uses their money a little differently there are some general rules each program uses when giving out swimming scholarships.


Being a dominate 50, 100 & 200 freestyler can put you in one of the best positions for a college scholarship. Outside of the points you bring in the open events you will also be able to score points in the relays as well. If you are a distance specialist your events at the college level will be the 500 and 1650. If these are going to be your only events you will need to be able to finish close to first at the conference level to find scholarships.

Backstroke, Breaststroke, Butterfly

Being a specialist breast, back or fly at the college level can really limit your scholarship opportunities. If you are going to be specializing in one of these strokes you need to look at a level where your times will score points in both the open 100 and 200 at the conference and national levels. Also, coming in and being able to swim for the relay teams right away will also put you in a stronger position to receive a scholarship.


Generally coaches don’t recruit swimmers who only swim the medleys. These swimmers are usually very strong in one to two strokes and will be developed in the other strokes. Also, they are expected to compete in the open events of their strongest strokes. Again the most important thing is that you swim at a level where you can score points and be one of the best swimmers for that particular program.

The secret of swimming at the NCAA DIII level

More schools compete under the NCAA DIII banner than any other level of college swimming. Most swimmers immediately dismiss DIII as not a good opportunity but being realistic about the number of swimmers that actually end up on full ride scholarships DIII offers as much if not more financial assistance to swimmers. While these universities do not offer athletic scholarships they often put together very competitive financial aid packages that rival those made available as partial athletic scholarships by other schools.

Use the links at the bottom left hand side of this page to make up you list of swimming colleges. Compile a list of DI swimming colleges or any other NCAA Division.

Are you ready for the NEXT STEP!