NCAA swim and dive
Jon Bauer graduated Magna Cum Laude from Rochester Institute of Technology’s (RIT) Computing Security program in 2021. During his time at RIT, Bauer competed in NCAA Division III diving and served as RIT’s varsity swim and dive captain for one year. Bauer placed seventh in the Liberty League Championship meet and was elected 2021 President of RITSEC, the second largest club on campus. If you have questions about the dive team, you can contact Bauer at jmb4371[at]rit.edu.
Bauer began diving at McDowell High School. As high school progressed, Bauer excelled at diving and became a regular at state-level meets. Eventually, Bauer was elected team captain and began the collegiate recruitment process.
Bauer was able to contact college coaches through Fredonia University’s Blue Devil Diving Camp. He met coaches at Bucknell University, Canisius College, and RIT.
Bucknell and Canisius are Division I schools, which makes them desirable for many athletes. However, Bauer’s primary focus in the college search was academics—specifically cybersecurity programs specializing in offensive security—which Bucknell and Canisius did not offer. On the other hand, RIT was a Division III school but offered an offensive Computing Security Bachelor of Science program.
During his senior year, Bauer began visiting campus on overnight recruitment tours. These tours allow prospective recruits to experience varsity athletic and academic culture at RIT, including practice, clubs, and classes. When he toured Bucknell and Canisius, he liked the social scene, but the academics, clubs, and campus were not how he envisioned them. When Bauer visited RIT, he loved it. In addition to attending practice, Bauer attended RITSEC, a club of which he later became president, and received tickets to a hockey game. By the end of his experience, he felt like he had a good understanding of RIT’s social, academic, and athletic atmosphere.
He notes that throughout the recruitment process he had to monitor the number of emails he sent to coaches and recruiters because the NCAA sets a limit on the amount of emails that can be sent between recruiters and athletes.
🌸👋🏻 Let’s take this to your inbox. You’ll receive occasional emails about whatever’s on my mind—offensive security, open source, academics, boats, software freedom, you get the idea.
Bauer’s first-choice school was RIT, so he only wanted to apply there. However, his mother and sister advised against it, so he applied to Canisius and Bucknell too. He used the Common Application to apply to all three schools.
RIT’s swim and dive teams have approximately sixty members, so large social events are common. However, smaller events and groups are common too. For example, members of the swim and dive teams often live together or meet up over the weekend. Bauer also notes that most people can easily network on the team because of its size:
Division III athletes join because they like the sport, competition and care about their health. Some people are very competitive and thrive in the competitive atmosphere, while others are there because they genuinely love the sport. Some join because they want to improve their athletic abilities.
Bauer describes all of the groups as welcoming to recruits of all levels and abilities. Furthermore, he describes the divers as being particularly welcoming, “everyone is happy and chill. All the college divers know each other, so meets are great to see each other progress. Competition between colleges is very supportive, and we congratulate each other on our improvements.”
Lastly, RIT’s swim and dive team hosts an annual community service event. The event usually focuses on improving the Rochester area, but they have also worked with the Special Olympics and holiday food drive.
Bauer notes that Division III athletics is incomparable to Division I athletics. This means that the team and coach are much more welcoming to walk-on athletes. In Bauer’s words:
Division III walk-ons are always accepted, and we love all skill levels. We encourage walk-ons to join, compete, and learn; the only requirement is to show up and try. It is rare to see anyone getting mocked or rejected for any reason; if they are, it is because they probably are being cocky, rude, or athletic snobs.
Division III athletes do not lose scholarship money due to injuries or poor athletic performance. In addition, many Division III athletes plan on pursuing careers independent of their athletic performance (i.e., engineering, computing, medicine, etcetera). As a result, Division III athletes often strive for and promote academic success rather than focus entirely on their sport. For example, the average grade point average of RIT’s varsity swim and dive team is approximately 3.7. Bauer’s achievements—captain of RIT’s varsity swim and dive team, president of RITSEC (the second largest club on campus), and graduating magna cum laude as a STEM major—illustrate that athletic, academic, and social success are not mutually exclusive.
Although this article focuses on Bauer’s athletic career, Bauer made academics his primary focus throughout college. He notes that although he enjoyed and excelled at diving, Bauer concentrated on his academics because he planned to pursue a career outside of diving.
Bauer advises recruits and walk-ons to ask themselves if they have time to dedicate to the sport. Missing practice is highly frowned upon, so time management is crucial. Furthermore, there are plenty of club and intramural sports at RIT that will give you more freedom and slack. Bauer also advises students to consider whether they are willing to be pushed out of their comfort zone athletically. Again, college training is much more intense than high school training. Athletes should be prepared to make that change. Lastly, Bauer recommends all students visit Tiger Den events. Students receive free, high-quality merchandise at athletic events.
Swim and dive training
RIT’s varsity swim and dive teams compete in ten meets per season. Half of the meets are hosted at RIT, while the other half are at other universities. Additionally, one of the ten meets is against a school outside the Liberty League like SUNY Fredonia.
Bauer believes that “college training is very different from high school. Mainly, you will progress so much faster in college than in high school, regardless of the coach.” This is because of the frequency, duration, and quality of their meets and practices. As a result, walk-ons and other recruits may not perform the best on the team, but there is a chance they can “surpass a traditionally recruited athlete if they really try.”
Weekly training schedule
RIT’s varsity swim and dive teams train approximately thirty hours per week. There is a two-hour practice every weekday. On Saturdays, there is either a two-hour practice or a meet. The team rests on Sundays.
Etiquette and attire
When athletes attend a meet, they usually wear RIT’s warm-up outfits or nice athletic clothes. Obviously, athletes do not need to be wearing suits because it’s a swim meet, but a well-kept appearance goes miles for teams’ reputation and deportment.
Bauer notes that it is very important for visiting teams to clean up after themselves and be respectful to the other team. Bauer notes that all the divers—regardless of the team—are friends with each other, but swimming is a different ballgame. Furthermore, Bauer notes that Division III athletes are very relaxed even though some of the athletes qualify for Division I sports like Bauer. Again, “competition, health, and improved athletic ability” are common values held by Division III athletes.
At the end of each meet, RIT’s team usually chants and lines up to congratulate the other team.
Varsity swim and dive at RIT
In summary, Bauer hopes that more students will consider joining RIT’s swim and drive team. Bauer’s experience demonstrates how Division III athletics create a well-rounded and holistic college experience. His experience shows that Division III athletics provides a great break from school and ample networking opportunities.
I want to thank Bauer for taking the time to meet with me and for providing thoughtful feedback throughout the article’s development. Again, if you have questions about the dive team, you can contact Bauer at jmb4371[at]rit.edu.
If you liked this post, I have another post on RIT athletics: Richard Ellsworth: How to Walk-On to RIT’s Varsity Cross Country Team.