Scholarships exist for a variety of reasons. From federally funded programs honoring prize-winning essayists to state-funded programs seeking to retain nurses and teachers within the region. But don't forget scholarships for sports like swimming! Depending on your skill-set and level of dedication you could be eligible for scholarships from both the federal and local government, from private organizations and even from the school you choose to attend.
To seek out funding assistance as a swimmer you should first look at how the classes are divided. Men's and Women's collegiate swimming and diving is available throughout all 3 divisions of the NCAA , NAIA, and the NJCAA. Scholarship money for swimmers is available for Division I and II only in each of the 3 collegiate associations.
Despite the fact that many of the nation's most elite swimmers end up on NCAA Division I teams does not indicate the true level of competition available among the other divisions and associations. Being classified Div I is primarily based on school size. Of course these schools have also built extensive swimming and diving programs so they do have the leverage to offer full and partial scholarships for students swimmers.
The NCAA Women's Div I Swimming and Diving programs may offer a total of 14 full scholarships per school, and the Men's Swimming and Diving programs, 9.9. Considering the number of schools with women's swim teams, close to 200 awards are offered every year, and the number with men's swim teams is around 140. The total number of swimming and diving scholarships available to Div I swimmers and divers is over 4,000.
Depending upon the institution, full-scholarships may be divvied up and offered as partial scholarships in order to assist that many more swimmers.
Division II schools offer Swimming and Diving scholarships as well. Many of these are partial and sometimes mixed with other forms of scholarship and grant money to help students meet financial needs. However it is important to know that the competition at Div II schools is also often fierce. In many cases elite athletes opt out of attending Div I schools regardless of their scholarship qualifications. So you can find a wealth of talent on teams at this level of competition and therefore the financial aid may be doled out quickly.
Division III schools of any kind are restricted from offering athletic scholarships. While athletic competition may be quite serious at the Div III level you will also find beginner athletes on the same teams with elite. It's good to note that in Division III any financial aid must come from academic sources in your school or from non-swimming scholarships. But many Div III schools do actively seek out good swimmers and try to offer them other incentives to enroll so not all hope should be lost.
At the junior college and community college level some top-notch swimming and diving is available through NJCAA member schools, particularly D-I schools. Scholarship money can be very rich at this particular level.
Because of the level of competition for these scholarships swimming or diving well simply isn't enough. It's also important to make sure that your work is seen by the people doling out the cash. If you can afford to and can make the time you would be advised to get a video made and a press kit of sorts just as football players do when looking to be recruited. Remember that any efforts to improve yourself and your potential is never a waste, which also means it's never too early to start.
If you're a high school swimmer and eager to find out more about college scholarships for swimmers and divers you should discuss your potential options with your coach. Also note that some schools and teams may be seeking specific strengths and roles from new swimmers they bring on board. Whether you choose to specialize or be able to compete in more than one event is up to you and your coach. Besides, the choices made to build a specific type of team shouldn't really hurt your chance for financial assistance but it is something you should be aware of when making long-range decisions as a swimmer.
It's always recommended to keep perfecting your sport but also remain diligent with schoolwork. Make it a point to diversify your life experience to include other extracurricular activities and some community service as well. Sure there are a number of swimming scholarships out there, but as mentioned the competition can be fierce. If you're neck-and-neck with another applicant it won't be enough to just be a great swimmer, so don't forget to also shape yourself into a well-rounded student and citizen. Such strides will only help your odds.