College athletes transferring in football, basketball and baseball is well documented by the public, but it is much less common in swimming and diving.
Three of the 27 members of Ohio's team this year are transfers, and that number will increase next year. Next season, the team will add at least two more transfers to its roster, bringing the number of transfers on the roster to at least five.
Across the NCAA, just one in 20 swimmers and divers transferred schools in 2016, which continues the downward trend in the sport of switching colleges. In women’s basketball, nearly one in five players transferred during the 2016 season.
The job of head coach Rachel Komisarz-Baugh is to find the best possible talent to improve her team, and there are different ways to achieve that. High school recruitment is the main one for finding new talent, but athletes transferring from other colleges can have an immediate impact because they already have experience at the college level.
“I am kind of hoping with some of the other transfers we have coming in is that they're a little bit more fine-tuned and then we can just kind of help continue them to develop," Komisarz-Baugh said.
When student-athletes decide to transfer, they reach out other schools they want to attend instead of being recruited by coaches. Once they figure out where they want to go, some still have reservations and nerves about if the new place is going to be any different.
"I was terrified when I came, like I didn't even get to meet the coach in person, but we talked a lot,” junior Nicole Hughes said. “You don't really know what it’s going to be like here until you come.”
From the first day, teammates bond at each step, and when someone joins partway through, she misses out on that initial bonding.
“They have gone through a lot more together, which obviously like makes you closer,” junior Emily Ortner said. "If you've had the same experience, you're going to bond over it so that was kind of hard."
Normally when people transfer, they do so after the first year of college, but Hughes she joined the team after just one semester at Cincinnati. She was not able to compete that first semester, so she was able to focus on bonding with the team and adapting to Athens.
"It's a hassle. It was not an easy process, so kind of wish I would have done it right the first time," Ortner said.