Two British International School, Phuket swimmers will be following the sun to Florida in September 2021, having been offered scholarships with two of the southernmost state’s top universities.
Year 12 students Aryan Nehra and Arijus Pavlidi will both head to Florida in 16 months time after completing their final year at BISP.
Aryan has given his verbal commitment to join the ‘Gators’ swim team at the University of Florida in Gainsville — currently the third-ranked swim team in Division I of the NCAA. Arijus will be just 200km away at Florida State University in Tallahassee, also a Division 1 swim college and home to the ‘Seminoles’ athletics team.
Both students joined the BISP Swimming Academy in 2017 — Aryan from India and Arijus from Lithuania. In the past year, the athletes have been scaling new heights in their sport. Arijus competed at the European Swimming Championships in Glasgow in December and Aryan continues to break national records for his native India. They were both in contention for Olympic selection this year but will have to wait for at least another 12 months before knowing if Japan 2021 could mark their Olympic debut.
BISP University Counsellor, Jacqui Brelsford, said the students’ success in sealing US scholarships came down to a combination of factors.
“Both Aryan and Arijus started this process over 12 months ago. The governing body of US college athletics, the NCAA, has strict rules about how students can be recruited. Student-athletes can begin their quest for recruitment in Year 10 or 11, but it’s not until the start of Year 12 that conversations between head coaches and athletes can truly begin to take place.
“Before that point, student-athletes are encouraged to make contact with coaches to express their interest, but coaches cannot respond. So students need to be proactive, and that means preparing their athlete profiles, taking the PSAT, sending out their academic transcripts and emailing coaches outlining what exactly they’re looking for. Aryan and Arijus did all of these things with the support of the University Counselling team and their swim coach.”
Ms Brelsford said recruitment to play sport does not guarantee a scholarship.
“Students must meet the university’s academic requirements, as well as the needs of the coach and team. These boys were ideal candidates for scholarships because they have strong academic as well as athletic ability.”
Colin Braund, head coach of the BISP Swimming Academy, believes the boys are everything college coaches are looking for. “Scholarships at the top end are very sought after and coaches are looking for continued improvement and a high level of achievement to replace outgoing seniors,” he said.
“Both Aryan and Arijus have had a great attitude both in and out of the pool. They are very professional, with a willingness to learn and improve and are well-established role models within our school.”