Swimming at the USAFA


New Member
Sep 6, 2017
My son is a junior and recently has been receiving emails and now snail mail from the head coach of the swim team at USAFA. The most recent letter said that he is "highly interested in actively recruiting" my son. I've been reading through some of the previous posts on this forum and it appears that the academy sets aside a certain number of appointments for athletes. Is that correct? Does that mean those athletes do not have to necessarily have a 4.0 GPA and 30 ACT score? My son's GPA is about a 3.30 but he's an exceptional swimmer with several state championships as a high school swimmer so far in his first two seasons. He sees it as a bit of an honor to have the USAFA coach interested in him but doesn't believe he can actually get into the school because he hasn't been a straight A student (not that he's not capable of being one). He has decided to work hard this year in school (what a novel concept) and he has all college prep classes including physics and computer science. He'll most likely be a team captain this year and or next year on his high school team and he works part-time.

Any thoughts on whether or not he truly has a shot at an appointment or if he should just be flattered by the coach's contacts and look at something more realistic for college?
First, your son should consider whether he is interested in USAFA and a career as an officer in the USAF. If so, he doesn't really have much to loose by trying and the interest of a coach may provide him with an advantage.

Have you reviewed the USAFA Class 2020 profile thread? While the maximum scores and average scores may discourage some, one must remember these are distributions and the range may be wider than some imagine. If you look at the Class of 2020 profile for both ACT and SAT they report the "Mid 50% Range". That means 25% of those who received appointments were below the minimum number in the range. The profile indicates that for the ACT 25% of the appointees were below 27 in Math, English or possibly both. However, those academically low scoring candidates undoubtedly had other attributes which enhanced their ranking in the USAFA "whole person candidate" evaluation process. While the tables don't provide similar detail for GPAs, it is likely that GPAs have a distribution which is somewhat similar to the SAT and ACT statistics. The Class of 2021 profile should become available shortly.

Another thread which might provide you with some insights is Why didn't little Johnny or Janie get an appointment? It may provide you further insights into the process. Also, spend some time reading the Nominations forum and the stickies.

When you read these forums you realize that some applicants are on a mission where they focus their life on gaining entry. There are also many candidates with impressive statistics. However, this is not the case for every successful applicant. The Academy accepts a broad range of individuals. They have all met the Academy's "whole person" criteria, many in their own unique way. While there is an abundance of useful information here, please don't be put off by any of it. Your sons chances may be better than you think when considering a single statistic such as GPA or ACT score.

Lastly, since the USAFA coach has approached him, I think your son should certainly speak with him. The coach may be able to provide your son with contacts in admissions who could provide your son with additional information. Good luck.
As RKV stated the most important question is does you son want to be an officer? If yes then by all means talk to the coach. Ask the coach questions and ask the other swimmers questions. Visit the academy campus if you are able. Remember this is not all about swimming! This is a Div 1 program, difficult academics and military obligations. As a varsity athlete he will be excused from some of the military but he will still need to keep his academics up. Your son may inquire about the prep school.
Best of luck and talk to the coach but remember the mission.