For ‘Canes swimmer Jacey Hinton, swimming is more than a sport.
In the two years she has been a part of the University of Miami, she has made her mark for the program in the pool, including contributing to Miami finishing in 22nd place at the NCAA Swim & Dive Championships earlier this month.
However, Hinton felt there was more to her than just swimming.
“I knew a million other things I wanted to do. Especially when I got older, I realized there was so much I wanted to do.” Hinton said.
She has succeeded in doing all that she wants, and there is a big helping hand in allowing her to do so.
Hinton is taking advantage of her name, image, and likeness (NIL).
On June 30, 2021, the National College Athletic Association (NCAA) allowed all of their athletes – regardless of their division – to be compensated for their NIL no matter where they went to school. So going into her freshman season at Miami meant Hinton could have a piece of the pie for herself.
But this was not something new for her. Hinton built a brand for herself throughout high school, giving her the means necessary to participate heavily in the unique NIL athlete experience.
“We were the guinea pigs,” Jacey said. “[With swimming and NIL], I feel like the two spectrums are that you’re good at your sport, or you kind of had some social media presence before, which is what I was in.”
In high school, Hinton got the opportunity to model and grow her social media presence. Brands and people sent her free stuff to advertise on her social media pages. If the NCAA didn’t allow athletes to benefit from their NIL, then Hinton wouldn’t have been allowed to accept and promote products.
“Think about not being able to do it – it’s so weird!” Hinton says. “Doing this is kind of my personality; it’s how I’ve always been. Everyone is like, ‘Oh, you’re like an influencer!’ I can’t imagine it being taken away. I’ve always known that I’m more than just a swimmer, and I know I’m not going to swim past college, but I’m going to have a social media platform.”
Hinton has over 14.4 thousand followers on Instagram and has amassed a plethora of NIL deals with its help, including being an ambassador for the pre-workout drink Alani-Nu and even having worked with Adidas.
But NIL isn’t an easy task for Hinton.
“You have to be committed to [NIL],” Jacey says. “It is a whole separate job, and you have to make sure it’s all within NCAA regulations, and you have to do taxes on the deals. You are taking on something major, but I love it.”
Not only do the deals themselves work, but getting offers in the first place is as well.
“I also have always to have to be on Instagram [for direct messages] and checking emails because some stuff goes to spam,” Hinton says. “Sometimes people say, ‘Oh, we’ll be in Miami in two days. Can you do this?’ And if you don’t look, you can miss out on a cool opportunity, so you have to check. You also have to ensure you like and repost the right content. It’s like running your own business. ”
Not only is Hinton using her time now to take advantage of her current NIL, but she’s also using the experiences to help her professionally. Hinton is studying broadcast journalism currently and has a role on the University of Miami Television’s sports show, “SportsDesk.”
“If I go into broadcast journalism and be a reporter, then I’m going to be a face of a community,” she said. “In that aspect, I’m just translating everything I’ve learned from my NIL into real life, except I don’t have the swimmer card. It won’t be that ‘I’m cool because I’m a swimmer,’ it’ll be ‘I’m cool because I am me.’”
However, at this stage of Jacey’s life with her NIL, she connects with other athletes based on the deals or brands they may share. As a result, not only has she grown closer with other athletes at the University of Miami, but she has been able to make new connections throughout the country.
“This one girl actually – she swims for Louisville – we had been talking through TikTok, and then I got to see her at the ACC championships. So to see her in real life was cool. Before, we were just social media buddies. It has brought college athletes together,” Hinton said.
Thanks to the NCAA, Jacey has used her own NIL to continue being the person she has always been. She can use her platform as a collegiate swimmer and an influencer to set herself up for success in countless ways.
“My NIL isn’t because of swimming. I swim at a [Division I] level, but so do many other people. What sets me apart is the platform I have and who I am.”