While there are several limited exceptions dealing with teams selected by a National Governing Body and representing the United States in International competition such as the World University Games, the general restrictions are contained in Bylaw 14.7.1 that states "a student-athlete in any sport other than basketball who participates during the academic year as a member of any outside team in any noncollegiate, amateur competition becomes ineligible for intercollegiate competition in that sport for the remainder of the year and for the next academic year."
NCAA Division I Bylaw 188.8.131.52 states that "it is permissible for a student-athlete to participate in outside competition as an individual during the academic year in the student-athlete's sport, as long as the student-athlete represents only himself or herself in the competition and does not engage in such competition as a member of or receive expenses from an outside team." [Emphasis added] This bylaw is the equivalent of swimming UNATTACHED in USA Swimming terminology; but he/she may not receive expenses from an outside team in that status.
The specific swimming bylaws emphasize and clarify this as follows:
184.108.40.206.1 During Academic Year. A student-athlete in swimming and diving who participates during the academic year as a member of any outside team in any noncollegiate, amateur competition (e.g., team invitational meet, exhibition meets or other activity) except while representing the institution in intercollegiate competition shall be ineligible for intercollegiate competition for the remainder of the year and for the next academic year (see Bylaw 14.7.3 for exceptions and waivers).
220.127.116.11.1.1 Vacation-Period Exception. A student-athlete may compete outside of the institution's declared playing and practice season as a member of an outside team in any noncollegiate, amateur competition during any official vacation period published in the institution's catalog.
In [regard to] reimbursement policies, the following was received: "In many cases, NCAA institutions structure their playing seasons as to include the US Nationals. By doing so, the institution is able to pay for the expenses of their student-athletes to compete at this event. If the event is not included in the institution's season, the institution cannot provide expenses. . the institution cannot accept money from a club or any other source if the money is earmarked for a particular student-athlete's expenses. A club could make a general donation to the institution's athletics department and how the money would be used would be up to the discretion of the department."
PVS policies state: . . . Potomac Valley Swimming (PVS) provides financial assistance to PVS member clubs whose athletes participate in designated National level events. [Emphasis added]. The policy further states: The Head Coach must file this request within thirty (30) days of the conclusion of competition. The Head Coach is attesting that the athletes listed as "QUALIFIED" have satisfied all eligibility criteria."