Shiny Contest Submission: NCAA Swimming Team Finder for Incoming College Athletes

This app is intended to help high school swimmers find college swimming teams that match their swimming abilities, their academic interests and their (or their parents') location and tuition requirements.

It includes swimming times for every program in the NCAA, college/university rankings and tuition information from US News, and locations for every program - all of which is freely available. There are significant caveats about the US News rankings, which are discussed in the app.

Regarding technical details by far the most difficult part for me was managing the treatment of times. In swimming, times are formatted as either 1:39.99 (meaning one minute, thirty nine seconds and nighty nine one-hundredths of a second) or, for times shorter than one minute, as 49.99. R of course handles time quite differently, and in the background of this app all time calculations are done purely in seconds. I needed my intended users to be able to work with times in the format they're familiar with and not to be required to convert 1:39.99 to 99.99 seconds.

A few disclaimers:

  • A significant portion of usefulness of the app depends on familiarity with times for each event. Swimmers know these things extremely well.
  • There are some pie charts in the app. I understand these aren't preferred among data science folks but I've used them here because
  1. they're only being used for qualitative visual comparisons
  2. high school students aren't necessarily sophisticated consumers of data visualizations (yet) but they'll certainly understand a pie chart.

R Studio Cloud deployment
Shiny App

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