If you are a talented swimmer or diver, you might be able to get a swimming scholarship in America to study. One option is a NAIA scholarship, which is the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics. Here is what you need to know about NAIA Swimming and Diving Scholarships in America.
Why Go for an NAIA Swimming Scholarship?
When it comes to swimming scholarships in the United States, you’ve got 3 main options: NCAA, NAIA, and NJCAA. Of the 3, the NCAA is the most well-known and also the most prestigious. However, it is also the most competitive. Talented student athletes might not be able to get a scholarship with the NCAA but find many opportunities at the NAIA level open to them. Don’t think this means the NAIA isn’t competitive though, or that the facilities are sub-par. The NAIA is on par with NCAA Division 2.
It is also important to note that NAIA schools are usually much smaller than NCAA schools. Most NAIA swimming schools have just around 1,000 to 2,000 students. Some schools have fewer than 500 students. Compare this to NCAA schools which can have as over 30 thousand students! As an international student athlete, you might find it easier to adjust at a smaller NAIA school.
How to Get an NAIA Swimming and Diving Scholarship
One of the biggest mistakes that student athletes make is sitting back and expecting college coaches to find them. If you want to win a swimming and diving scholarship in the USA, you have to do the work. This means making an athletic CV, a highlight video, and actively contacting coaches. As a first step, we recommend getting a professional swimming assessment. At the assessment, you will get unbiased information about your abilities, what you need to work on, and what your realistic chances are of getting a scholarship.
One of the main benefits with NAIA scholarships is that there are virtually no restrictions about coach-athlete contacts. You can contact coaches whenever you want, and the coaches can contact you back. By comparison, the NCAA has very strict rules about contacts, and coaches are only allowed to contact athletes during certain periods.
Get your CV and highlights video together and send them to coaches at some NAIA schools you are interested in. Make sure you write a stellar letter of introduction explaining why you want to swim and dive with that particular school.
NAIA schools tend to have very small recruiting budgets. Don’t expect a coach to travel to see you compete! You will likely have to visit the school yourself, meet the coach, and be assessed before getting a scholarship offer.
If you get a scholarship at an NAIA school, you aren’t stuck there. One other benefit of NAIA scholarships is that you can transfer to another NAIA school. For example, you might get a partial scholarship to one school. You perform very well during your freshman year and are then offered athletic scholarships from other NAIA schools. You could transfer without athletic penalties.
To learn more about NAIA scholarships, visit these pages:
Average Scholarship Amounts
Each NAIA school is allowed to offer a total of 8 scholarships for swimming and diving. They are free to divide up these scholarships however they want though. For example a school might offer 1 full scholarship, 10 half scholarships, and 4 quarter scholarships.
The average NAIA swimming and diving team size is 15, so there is a fairly good chance of getting a scholarship. However, there is a slim chance you will get a full scholarship, especially as a freshman.
Currently, the average NAIA scholarship amount for swimming and diving is about $7,700 (men) and $8,300 (women). Remember that this can vary drastically depending on the school and size of the scholarship!
NAIA Swimming and Diving Schools
There are currently 26 schools which offer Men’s Swimming & Diving, and 29 schools which offer Women’s Swimming and Diving. For both men and women, 20 events are offered.
- See a Complete List of NAIA Men’s Swimming and Diving Schools here.
- See a Complete List of NAIA Women’s Swimming and Diving Schools here.