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

We’re a few weeks into NCAA competition season, which means it’s time for our opening NCAA Power Rankings, beginning with the women’s programs.

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-#1 Rankings


  1. Auburn Tigers (2016 NCAA Finish: #33)

Opened the season with back-to-back wins over Wisconsin and Kentucky. As expected, the sprint group is deep, but Auburn’s end-of-year results depend on one of those sprinters making the leap.

  1. UCLA Bruins (2016 NCAA Finish: #17)

Strong swims for the Bruins at the SMU Classic. Linnea Mack currently sits #2 in the country in her three best events (22.5/48.6 sprint freestyle, 52.8 100 back), and Emma Schanz dropped an impressive 4:09.52 to win the 400 IM.

  1. Florida Gators (2016 NCAA finish: #19)

Last season was a forgettable one for the Gators, but with added depth in the off-season, they already look like a more well-rounded team.   We’ll have an even better idea after their upcoming back-to-back slate (Indiana/Texas this weekend, Georgia next weekend).

  1. Ohio State Buckeyes (2016 NCAA Finish: 14)

The Buckeyes aren’t the deepest dual meet squad, but Lindsay Clary and Liz Li will score points in bunches in the postseason.

  1. Minnesota Golden Gophers (2016 NCAA Finish: #20)

Fell to archrival Wisconsin to open the season. Canadian Olympian and star breaststroker Kierra Smith is back after redshirting last season, giving the Gophers a great medley front-half along with Zoe Avestruz. Having diver Yu Zhou (31 NCAA points) returning for her senior season helps, as well.

  1. Wisconsin Badgers (2016 NCAA Finish: #21)

The duo of Chase Kinney and Beata Nelson give the Badgers a real chance to compete in sprint relays at NCAA’s, while Cierra Runge handles the longer events. Wisconsin opened the season by splitting a pair of tight contests against Auburn (loss) and Minnesota (win), but their biggest test is this weekend against NC State.

  1. Tennessee Volunteers (2016 NCAA Finish: #13)

First look at #1 recruit Meghan Small will be this weekend against North Carolina.  Also keep an eye on the Volunteers sprinters; they have a large void to manage from the graduation of Harper Bruens and Faith Johnson.

  1. Missouri Tigers (2016 NCAA Finish: #11)

Downed conference rival Alabama to open the season. The Tigers are counting on Hannah Stevens and Katherine Ross to lead.

  1. Texas Longhorns (2016 NCAA Finish: #15)

The Longhorns were hurting last year without Gretchen Jacques, but a top-five recruiting class led by Claire Adams and Kaitlyn Harty will help. We’ll get our first look at them this weekend, as Texas travels to Bloomington to take on Indiana and Florida.

  1. Arizona Wildcats (2016 NCAA finish: #12)

Lots of young talent on this roster, led by one of the nation’s best sophomore classes. Annie Ochitwa is excellent, and Taylor Garcia has had a promising start to the year after a disappointing freshman campaign.

  1. NC State Wolfpack (2016 NCAA finish: #9)

Much like the men’s team, the Wolfpack women seem to be on a continued ascendence.  With some development of their freshmen/transfers, NC State can match or top its 9th place finish from last season.  Freshman Ky-Lee Perry will be the key.

  1. Virginia Cavaliers (2016 NCAA finish: #5)

The Cavaliers will almost certainly not match their 5th place finish from 2016 NCAA’s now that Courtney Bartholomew has graduated, but there’s plenty to be excited about here, include one last go-round for Leah Smith.  They kick off the season against Pittsburgh this evening.

  1. Michigan Wolverines (2016 NCAA finish: #10)

It’s always important to temper your excitement with teams who compete at the SMU Classic; it’s always a crazy-fast October meet, so merely looking at top times lists doesn’t get us very far.  That being said, the Michigan women had their best team in a long time last season, and even with the graduation of Ali Deloof, they’re positioned to be even better this year.

  1. Indiana Hoosiers (2016 NCAA finish: #7)

No formal competition yet for the Hoosiers, but they have a big one this weekend with Florida and Texas coming to town.  Keep an eye out for the return of redshirt senior / NCAA champion Brooklynn Snodgrass.

  1. Louisville Cardinals (2016 NCAA finish: #8)

“No more Kelsi Worrell” will be a consistent (and important) narrative when evaluating the Cardinals, but Mallory Comerford (NCAA ‘A’ cut in the 200 free) and Andee Cottrell (59.6/2:08.7 breaststrokes) are red-hot at the moment.  Freshman Casey Fanz (22.6/49.6 in the sprint freestyles) has turned in some nice times, as well.

  1. USC Trojans (2016 NCAA finish: #6)

The Trojans are returning most of their big guns, and freshman Louise Hansson is already looking like the ringer we thought she’d be, already notching an ‘A’ cut in the 200 free at the SMU Classic.  Dangerous team with top-three potential.

  1. Texas A&M (2016 NCAA finish: #4)

The Aggies were victorious in their season opener against Incarnate Word last night (full results unavailable at time of publication).  This is a loaded squad, with 19 of 20 relay legs returning (plus some other fresh faces).  We’ll reevaluate after the first week of November, when they take on Texas and Florida.

  1. California Golden Bears (2016 NCAA finish: #3)

Cal usually doesn’t have very competitive meets to open the year, so we won’t read into anything with their Oregon State victory, other than breaststroke is once again their Achilles heel.  To compete in March, the Bears need a solution that (hopefully) doesn’t involve having Abbey Weitzeil pull a Caeleb Dressel and take on Cal’s breaststroke duties.

  1. Georgia Bulldogs (2016 NCAA finish: #1)

Three years ago it was Melanie Margalis making the leap.  The next year it was Hali Flickinger.  This year’s candidate: Megan Kingsley.  The returning All-American has already been 53.07/1:54.90 in the 100/200 butterfly to start the year.

  1. Stanford Cardinal (2016 NCAA finish: #2)

The Cardinal didn’t show anything of note in their first week other than a 52.85 backstroke from Ally Howe–most of the squad swam ‘off’ events in a runaway victory over Oregon State.  Doesn’t matter.  With six returning NCAA champions and Katie Ledecky, this team is the clear #1 for now.

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yea, I don’t see any way Stanford doesn’t win


We didn’t see any way they couldn’t win last year either, right?


Wrong. I think most had Cal repeating going into it.

55% of participants in our Pick Em Contest had Stanford to win. 34% had Cal.


Last year Stanford would have won even without Manuel, Ledecky, Cook had they not gotten DQ’ed in the 200 free relay. What a shame indeed! But they came back strong and lost to Georgia only by 19 points. Georgia did a wonderful job with their swimmers also.

About Morgan Priestley

Morgan Priestley

A Stanford University and Birmingham, Michigan native, Morgan Priestley started writing for SwimSwam in February 2013 on a whim, and is loving that his tendency to follow and over-analyze swim results can finally be put to good use. Morgan swam competitively for 15+ years, primarily excelling in the mid-distance freestyles. While …

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