2016-2017 Women’s NCAA Power Rankings – Final Edition

Women’s NCAA conference championships have wrapped up, meaning it’s time for our last Power Rankings of the season. Stanford is still the runaway #1 team in the land, but the rest of the top 20 has shuffled up pretty considerably as more teams start to show their cards in the hunt for NCAA invites.

Just like previous years, SwimSwam’s Power Rankings are somewhere between the CSCAA-style dual meet rankings and a pure prediction of NCAA finish order.  SwimSwam’s rankings take into account how a team looks at the moment, while keeping the end of the season in mind through things like a team’s previous trajectory and NCAA scoring potential.  These rankings are by nature subjective, and a jumping-off point for discussion.  If you disagree with any team’s ranking, feel free to make your case in a respectful way in our comments section.

#20: Auburn Tigers (PREVIOUS RANK: N/A)

They’re not the deepest crew nationally, but Auburn does have both sprint free relays in NCAA scoring position. That includes the #7 200 free relay nationwide. Ashley Neidigh is looking more and more like a force in the distance races.

#19: Kentucky Wildcats (PREVIOUS RANK: #14)

After a third-place showing at SECs, Kentucky still looks very strong in the 200 backstroke where they’ve got three in scoring position, including defending NCAA champ Danielle Galyer.

#18: Missouri Tigers (PREVIOUS RANK: 12)

Hannah Stevens remains a huge backstroking threat nationally, but Mizzou has its work cut out for it to get its relays into scoring range nationally. Did the Tigers swim through SECs and save their best stuff for NCAAs? If so, expect a solid jump from this spot.

#17: UNC Tar Heels (PREVIOUS RANK: #19)

The Tar Heels came alive at a hotly-contested ACC meet and boast the nation’s fifth-fastest 200 free relay. Hellen Moffitt was one of the best individual scorers in one of the deepest years the ACC has ever seen.


This team will fly as high as Zhesi Li and Lindsey Clary take it. That’s both the good news and the bad news as that duo is consistently overperforming, but the relays will struggle to eke out points.

#15: Tennessee Volunteers (PREVIOUS RANK: #17)

Meghan Small is looking more and more like the #1-ranked prospect she was out of high school. She sits 4th nationwide in the 200 IM and Tennessee will have shots at A finals in a couple of relays.

#14: Minnesota Golden Gophers (PREVIOUS RANK: #15)

The medley relays were stellar at a tight Big Ten meet, and Kierra Smith picked right up where she left off in short course yards. Getting Brooke Zeiger back healthy will be key for this team challenging the top 10-15.

#13: Wisconsin Badgers (PREVIOUS RANK: #20)

The sprint free relays both check in inside the top 8 of the NCAA ranks, but its distance duo Cierra Runge and Danielle Valley doing the heaviest lifting.

#12: Arizona Wildcats (PREVIOUS RANK: #5)

They’ve fallen some after a stellar midseason rest meet, but Arizona still boasts the 3rd-fastest medley relay in the NCAA. They’ll need some of their young talent to push for individual points to place this high, but it appears the Wildcats didn’t take much out of the bank for Pac-12s and could be on the cusp of a big withdrawal next month.

#11: Indiana Hoosiers (PREVIOUS RANK: #13)

Lilly King is doing historic things in the breaststrokes and singlehandedly carrying IU’s relays into NCAA scoring contention. But the rest of the team needs to step up in a big way at NCAAs. Watch flyer Gia Dalesandrowho also had a great conference meet.

#10: Michigan Wolverines (PREVIOUS RANK: #9)

The newly-crowned Big Ten champs are wicked in the distance races, with three in NCAA scoring range in the 500 (G Ryan, Rose Bi and Becca Postoll). And watch the 800 free relay, which is among the nation’s best.

#9: Louisville Cardinals (PREVIOUS RANK: #11)

Louisville very nearly toppled 9-time defending ACC champs Virginia a few weeks ago. Mallory Comerford is hitting her stride in the relay-distance freestyles, and makes Louisville’s 400 free relay one of the more dangerous around.

#8: Virginia Cavaliers (PREVIOUS RANK:#7)

Their ACC win streak was snapped, but Virginia seems to have its eyes a little more on NCAAs at the moment. Leah Smith is ranked #2 nationwide in the 500 and 1650 frees, Laura Simon is an elite breaststroker and a lot of Virginia’s points are currently centered in the 200 fly and 200 IM.

#7: Texas A&M Aggies (PREVIOUS RANK: #8)

A slight bump for the Aggies after winning SECs in a show of depth. Sarah Gibson sits #2 in the NCAA ranks in the 200 fly and A&M is one of the best teams in the nation through the breaststrokes, butterflys and IMs, while also boasting three top-8-ranked relays (200 medley, 400 medley and 800 free).

#6: Texas Longhorns (PREVIOUS RANK: #4)

Texas didn’t have to show much at Big 12s, and now the real question dogging the Longhorns all year is finally about to be answered: can they back up a stellar regular season with comparable NCAA performances? Madisyn Cox should be a multi-event All-American to lead the way.

#5: NC State Wolfpack (PREVIOUS RANK: #10)

First ACC title since 1980 in hand (or paw) and the Wolfpack looks very strong. Four different relays rank #4 in the NCAA (200 medley, 400 medley, 200 free, 400 free) and NC State has 3 potential 100 back scorers including ACC MVP Alexia Zevnik.

#4: USC Trojans (PREVIOUS RANK: #6)

If the story of the Pac-12 championships wasn’t how great Stanford swam, it would be how great USC swam. Scratch that. If the story of the Pac-12 championships wasn’t about how great Stanford swam, it would be about how great Cal swam, but if it wasn’t about either of them, it would be about another statement meet for the USC women. All five relays sit within the top 5 nationally and USC looks loaded in the sprints and breaststrokes, where coach Dave Salo has excelled lately.


SECs wasn’t earth-shattering, but also clearly wasn’t the Bulldogs’ biggest focus. Chelsea Britt is proving a massive pickup in the butterflys and Oliva Smoliga probably has room to move up even in stacked 50 and 100 free rankings.


Cal is ranked inside the NCAA’s top 3 in all five relay races and is stronger than anyone but Stanford in the relay-distance (50, 100, 200) freestyles. Backstroke and butterfly should be massive strengths and believe it or not, they’ve got the only top-16-ranked breaststroker of the top 3 teams. A great deal hinges on just how severe Abbey Weitzeil‘s illness is and whether she’s back at full strength for NCAAs.


No reason to drop the Card after several American records and a dominant showing at Pac-12s. The big question is whether Katie Ledecky will swim the 400 IM or 200 free at NCAAs, but in terms of team scores, that’s mostly a moot point. Between Simone ManuelLedecky, Ella Eastin, Ally Howe and Janet HuStanford has the current NCAA leader in 10 of 13 individual events plus 4 of 5 relays.

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5 years ago

No love for Madeline Banic at UT after her phenomenal swim to win the 50 Free at SECs and a top 100 fly performance as well? Seems like you might include her along with Meghan Small!

5 years ago

Where are the Florida Gators? Out of the top 20? In the top 25?

Reply to  applesorangesandbananas
5 years ago

It’s so hard to pick past 20, because the points are so tightly-knit that one good swim or bad swim by one swimmer can jump or drop a team a ton of spots.

Florida was 19th at NCAAs last year, and graduated their two big scorers – Khalia Warner and Natalie Hinds. They’ve got 3 relays qualified, which I believe are seeded 14, 21, and 21. They’ve got two swimmers who look like maybe they’re close to scoring – and I think both got in via a last chance meet.

Because they’re Florida, you give them the benefit of the doubt, but if they were shut out at NCAAs, on a micro-level (looking at this season only) it wouldn’t be… Read more »

5 years ago

NC state… very impressive. With the strength of their relays, I’m assuming they will be top 5 at the big dance.

5 years ago

6 SEC, 5 Big 10, 4 ACC, 4 PAC-12, and 1 Big 12–a nice smattering of the major conferences. While PAC-12 has fewer teams in the top 20, they have 3 out of the top 4 which is quite impressive.

5 years ago

Is NC State Choosing not to participate in NCAAs? How did they not make this list after just winning ACCs?

5 years ago

I don’t see a #5 spot. Is that NC State?

Big Time Timmy Jim
5 years ago

There are only 19 teams listed. Skipped #5

Reply to  Big Time Timmy Jim
5 years ago

My mistake. An errant enter pulled out #5 NC State right before I hit publish. They’re back now.

About Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson swam for nearly twenty years. Then, Jared Anderson stopped swimming and started writing about swimming. He's not sick of swimming yet. Swimming might be sick of him, though. Jared was a YMCA and high school swimmer in northern Minnesota, and spent his college years swimming breaststroke and occasionally pretending …

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