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Swimming New Zealand Education Opportunities

Planning Your Swimming Career – what you need to think about


As you progress in your swimming career you need to make decisions with your coach and your family about where is the best training environment to meet your needs and assist you to maximise your potential.  Depending on your aspirations in swimming and study it may be that staying to train at home is best suited to your needs. Other options may be to

  •         Move to the High Performance Centre in Auckland
  •         Move to train overseas in Australia
  •         Move to a US based Scholarship programme.

 Whatever you choose to do, take time to make sure you are making a decision based on a good analysis of the options. The purpose of this document is to give you some background information on two of these options; what is offered at the High Performance Centre in Auckland and things you need to consider if contemplating training and studying at a US Based College University.

Swimming New Zealand’s High Performance Programme

 Swimming New Zealand is committed to providing a coordinated and holistic approach to the high performance areas of Olympic Pool Swimming, Open Water Swimming.  The High Performance Programme is founded on ensuring the development pathway is strong enough to support international success in 2020 and into the future.

 Our vision is to for “inspirational swimmer to excite the nation through exceptional results” One of our goals is:

 To win medals in 2020

 Swimming New Zealand High Performance Centre

A key to achieving this goal, is to improve our daily performance and training environment. To do this, we have established a program at the High Performance Centre (HPC). This will better ensure that our athletes and coaches are fully supported in a high performance environment in conjunction with services provided by High Performance Sport New Zealand and provide you with high level coaching at the pool deck.

 The Swimming NZ HPC will strive to

  •         Take the lead in creating a performance environment and supporting all domestic training situations;
  •         Invest time and effort into creating a high performing environment with a proven track-record, create a performance culture, and provide a centre and environment where mature athletes can continue their University education and/or continue to train in a positive environment with the best possible resources
  •         Provide investment and knowledge that provides information and support to the current club system and coaches.

We aim to provide the best environment for the development and preparation of identified swimmers in the National/International pathway, to enable successful performance at International competition, and encourage our swimmers to further their education. We expect this to deliver a more positive, quality training environment and training centre that supports a greater number of world-class swimmers and coaches to achieve internationally competitive results in an environment where success and improvement are not only expected but contagious.

 Individual Program Support

If you have been selected into one or our national squads and are not training at the HPC we are keen to provide you and your home coach individual support although this will not be as extensive as the support available at the HPC.

 The HPC Programme takes a holistic approach to supporting you in your swimming career. Whether its training in the pool, dry land training, strength and conditioning, education, finances, life planning there is support available for all.

 An overview of support for athletes in the program.




What and Who

IN the pool



High Performance Centre at the National Aquatic Centre, Auckland



Jerry Olszewski (Head Coach); 021 616 906



OUT of the pool


  •         Dry Land Training;
  •         Strength and Conditioning;
  •         Rehab and Massage;
  •         Nutrition;
  •         Psychologist support;
  •         Athlete Life; Finances, Career planning



High Performance Centre at the National Aquatic Centre, Auckland



HPSNZ Providers work with the HPC Programme athletes to provide the appropriate levels of support which takes an individual and team approach.


All services have dedicated providers that work with the HPC on a daily basis






  •         University
  •         Professional









Education: continued.


  •         University
  •         Professional






On application through HPSNZ supported by the SNZ office.




The Prime Minister Athlete Scholarships are available for all athletes to apply for each year. These scholarships are set up to enable elite athletes to gain a University or Professional qualification whilst continuing to swim at the level needed.

They provide financial assistance for fees or course costs as well as support with living costs.



Wherever your goals are aimed at there is support available. The athlete life advisor working with the program provides sound knowledge and pathways to all education providers as well as career and financial advice.




Administrative Support


Swimming NZ

Amanda White



Amanda White (High Performance Operations & Logistics Manager) is responsible for the administrative support for all athletes and the centre.


There are also many grants and scholarships available in the regions that can be accessed. Amanda will be able to connect you to the correct person or organisation.

021 509 232




Considering a Scholarship in the USA


Swimming NZ acknowledges that Swimmers and their parents are understandably excited by the opportunities presented by an offer of a scholarship at a US University/College. It may be that you’ve been approached by a coach to swim at a University/College in the USA or are considering applying for a scholarship?

What does this mean?

If you have been approached by a coach from a University/College in the United States (US), they have a swimming program at their University/College, they are recruiting athletes for their program and feel you have a performance level that will assist their own team to be the best it can be in their division.


Who should you contact first if you approached or are considering a scholarship?

No matter what level swimmer you are, you should let your own coach know that you have been approached or that you are considering an option to swim and go to school in the US.

A resource of deep knowledge in this area is the NZ Head Coach, Jerry Olszweski.  Jerry spent over 20 years coaching in the states and has a wealth of knowledge of coaches, programs and what could fit your specific needs.  He can also inform you of programs which may not meet your athletic needs to reach your goals.


What should you be aware of?

Keep in mind that the first priority for a swim team in the US University/College system is the performance of their TEAM. If you have been contacted by a coach from the US, they are primarily interested in bringing in the best athletes they can recruit to increase the success of their own teams/programs. This may or may not fit in with your own personal swimming goals or the needs and expectations of the New Zealand National Team.




What are some of the challenges and things to consider?


Challenges and Things to consider

  1. The quality, reputation, and Athletic Department support of the swimming program (coach) at the university/college in question.  The level of talent, coaching expertise and programme integrity can vary dramatically from one university to the next as well as their off season (March thru May as well as June thru September) training program and pool/training time. Some University programs do not offer off season programs at all.
  2. Your ability to meet your obligations for Swimming NZ including: competing at the NZ Long Course Open which is used for qualification of NZ Teams; SC Championships; another event to be nominated by Swimming NZ, that may include an International Grand Prix or equivalent event which is considered by Swimming NZ as important preparation for a benchmark event.
  3. The NCAA Championships always occur in mid to late March. The NZ Championships (trials) for the highest priority international competition of the year are often scheduled at the same time. NCAA swimmers will not be excused from the NCAA championships to participate in these trials.
  4. NCAA competition is conducted in a 25-yard course. The type of training which is done to prepare for peak performance in 25-yard competition is very different from the type of training that is necessary to prepare for peak performance in a 50 metre pool. Due to the type of events at NCAA’s most programs are sprint oriented and history shows a dip in Long Course performance during that period of time.
  5. NCAA rules impose training restrictions that prevent the swimmers from committing as much time to their preparation as do their international competitors. These restrictions are the most severe after the NCAA championships (mid-March), which is precisely the time of the year that a heavy workload is essential to successful preparation for major international competition.
  6. The NCAA programme demands peak performance every March, so the NCAA coaches can’t afford to look beyond the next championship meet in their programme planning. The most successful performances in the Olympic Games are the result of a long term (4 year) approach to programme planning.


  1. An examination of the USA national team roster will reveal that there are few NCAA swimmers who make the national team and even fewer who win medals. Most of the USA medallists are swimmers like Michael Phelps and Katie Hoff who, for all of the reasons listed above, chose not to participate in the NCAA programme; or they have completed their NCAA eligibility and are now training in programs focused on international competition. Of course there will always be exceptions, but the NCAA athletes who equal or exceed expectations in international competition are the exceptions rather than the rule.
  2. Costs associated with travel back and forth from NZ to the USA to meet the obligations outlined above as well as family holidays.
  3. Potential loss of funding.




Is the US University/College System an option for you?




  1.     Talk to your Home Coach


  1.     Talk to the NZ National Head Coach, Jerry Olszewski, regarding specific information on the Universities that have contacted you and if they will fit your needs and goals


  1.     Research your options in New Zealand regarding further education and training options


  1.     Research the University Team, training program and if the current state will support your swimming aspirations (facilities, coaching, training schedules and support staff)


  1.     Weigh your options
  •   Depending on your current age, performance levels and stage of development this could be an option for you – there is much to consider. Travel time, travel expense, time away from home, educational expense, coach’s track record, etc.



Seek More Information and begin the process

  •         Discuss the pros and cons with your coach, parents, school counsellor, and athletes who have been overseas
  •         Research your options overseas and in NZ


Tips + further information:


   Contact your school counsellor to discuss your academic needs, options, and domestic scholarship options/ overseas options


As you make your decision, consider the following;


   A majority of the colleges and universities in the USA provide partial and full scholarships for athletes in a wide range of sports. Generally, athletic scholarships are offered to athletes participating in sports that are part of the following associations;

   National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) Division I or II sports competition

  •   National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA)
  •   National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA)

   Scholarships can reduce the total cost of studying in the USA to make the overall expenditure less than, or similar, to studying in New Zealand

   Athletes sometimes look for opportunities to study at the University level in the USA as it can sometimes prove beneficial to their sporting development, as well as financially for their education.

   USA universities and colleges offer athletic scholarships because success in intercollegiate sports is important for continued funding for institutions.

   As a foreign student/athlete, you will never be granted in-state tuition which cut education costs dramatically.

   University Coaches can decide to cut student/athlete scholarships year to year for various reasons