Column: Recruiting weekends fun but tiring

In revenue sports, fans and the media follow recruiting religiously. In swimming, although high school may not get rated from one to five stars or be named McDonald’s All-Americans, recruiting is equally important to a team’s success.

For swimmers, more so than other athletes, recruiting requires a team-wide effort. After a recruiting weekend, if we did our job, everyone is exhausted.

This past weekend was our second recruiting weekend in a row. The first rule of recruiting weekends is do whatever the recruits want to do. If they want to go see the columns, you go see the columns. If they want something to eat, you buy them something to eat. If one of them sits down for dinner and realizes he forgot to get a drink, you go get his or her drink. Basically, our job is to make them feel like royalty for one weekend to prove that we really do want them here.

Hosting is a demanding job. This is especially the case on Friday afternoons when I have just finished the second of two hard practices, and all I want to do is collapse on my couch, but the team has an activity planned. Likewise, I usually follow Saturday morning practices with a long nap, but recruits have no interest in watching me sleep, so a nap is out of the question.

But hosting a recruit is not all drudgery. Recruiting weekends can actually be some of the most fun we have as a team because we all overcome our exhaustion and come together to show the recruits a good time. Plus, it’s always exciting to meet potential new teammates and pitch something I am passionate about to them.

Here is how a recruiting weekend typically goes:

Recruits arrive on Thursday night but spend the night away from the team in a hotel. On Friday, they meet the team for breakfast at the Missouri Athletic Training Complex. From there, they get a tour of the facilities and meet with academic advisors while we are in class.

The team doesn’t really start spending time with the recruits until Friday night. Each recruit has one swimmer host him or her on Friday and a different host on Saturday. The hosts are responsible for tending to the recruits at all times, although the rest of the team is expected to participate in recruiting activities as well.

This Friday, we ate at Pavilion at Dobbs as a team and then went to the soccer game. (Side note: our team has to be developing a reputation as the most ruthless college soccer student section in the country). Afterwards, we got ice cream from Andy’s Frozen Custard and had a bonfire.

Once we made it through Saturday morning practice, we went breakfast as a team at Rollins. From there, our schedule depends on what time the football game is that day. This week, we played sand volleyball for a couple of hours before cleaning up and going to a tailgate for the recruits hosted by the athletic department.

On Saturday nights, we always try to find somewhere entertaining to hang out with the recruits. This weekend, went to Perche Creek Golf Club, which includes a go-kart track, batting cages, a driving range and an extremely challenging putt-putt course. Saturday nights are always the highlight of the recruiting weekend for me. Ordinarily, we would never get the whole team out at Perche Creek wrecking one another on the go-kart track or battling in putt-putt. Even though I am always exhausted by the end of the night and a 6:45 a.m. wake-up looming to see off the recruits, it’s refreshing to have a few hours of fun with teammates after a grueling week of practice.

I have emphasized how tiring recruiting weekends can be for swimmers, but something as important as determining the future of our program is worth the effort. Plus, we get to have a little fun in the process.

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