One of the advantages of being a runner or a swimmer or even a golfer in the college athletic recruiting process is that applicants tend to know where they stand. As a male swimmer who goes a :58 in the 100 yard backstroke, his best event, isn’t going to get any attention at Division 1 swimming programs. In the Ivy League, the Harvard coach isn’t going to be interested in him and neither is the Dartmouth coach. Does that mean that this swimmer can’t swim in college? Not necessarily. There are certainly some universities where this applicant can pursue a college swimming career — likely just not in Division 1. A school like Brandeis or Middlebury might have interest, though even Middlebury might be a stretch.
As a high school basketball player, you may have some idea of where you stand with college coaches but it’s not as cut and dry as swimming or running. There aren’t times in basketball. You can’t just look at the data and see how you stack up. It’s hard to compare one applicant’s jump-shot against another. Sure, there are coaches who make a living doing this, but, for the student, it’s easy to think your jump-shot and agility are much better than that shooting guard at the rival high school.
So if you’re a swimmer or a runner, compare your best times to the times at meets for the universities you intend to apply to. If you’re a :56 100 yard breastroker and swimmers at Yale are going :55, :56, then you’d fit in really well. If you’re a 1:08 100 yard breastroker and swimmers at your dream school are going sub-:57, then you might want to seriously reconsider your plans on swimming at that college. Be realistic. Be objective. Scan through those meet results and you’ll see just where you stand in your dream school’s coach’s eyes.
While you’re here, check out this post on University Athletic Recruiting.