2017-2018 Men’s NCAA Power Rankings: Final Edition

As in 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.

As it’s been most of the season, the top spot in our Power Rankings is coming down to a brutally close fight between Cal and Texas.

We ultimately rolled with Texas, in part because of the return of John Shebat and in part because of a big diving boost coming out of Zones.

See also:

We’re introducing a new format for our Power Rankings this season: a committee system where we average out the top 20 ballots of multiple SwimSwam writers to come up with our official ranking order. While this should help readers glean which teams are consensus picks at their rank and where in the order things get fuzzy and more subjective, bear in mind that these rankings are not an opportunity to personally attack any specific writer.

With that said, onto our final rankings for the 2017-2018 season:

(Also receiving votes: Florida State, Arizona)


800 free relay looks great. But Mizzou is going to need some individual scorers to make the top 20. Mikel Schreuders and Jacob Wielinski are the best bets. -JA

#19: Ohio State Buckeyes (Previous Rank: N/A)

They’ve got the nation’s 7th-ranked 400 free relay and freshman Paul DeLakis is having a monster rookie year. -JA

The Buckeyes looked great at Big 10s, their relays came up to speed, and managed to get 6 swimmers to the NCAAs. Paul Delakis came up huge for them at the conference meet, and Jack Barone and Noah Lense looked great as well. They also have a valuable relay swimmer in Andrew Loy, who could also score in the 200 free. -SP


The Sun Devils got 7 swimmers to the NCAAs, but the only ones that are really in scoring position are Cameron Craig, Christian Lorenz, and Zach Poti. It doesn’t look like they’ll score a huge amount of relay points, which will make it hard for them to get very far into the top 20. -SP


The Boilmakers finished 13th last year, and return all of their point scorers, including their four divers who earned a combined 94.5 points last year. -RG

Marat Amaltdinov might not score anything. But Purdue still has a handful of divers that should add about 100 points. -JA

Pretty much the same formula as last year, lots of diving points plus maybe some breaststroke points out of Amaltdinov, which should lead to pretty much the same result. -SP

#16: Minnesota Golden Gophers (Previous Rank: N/A)

Conner McHugh and Bowe Becker are proving to be two of the nation’s best in their disciplines. Who can the Gophers get to fill in alongside them, and what will the diving total look like? -JA

Bowen Becker and Conner McHugh are a lethal duo. The Gophers should have no problem finishing well within the top 20. -SP


They return all of their individual point scorers from last year’s 15th place finish, and add Brandonn Almeida into the mix. -RG

If they had more speed in relay events, there’s no doubt in my mind they would be a top 10 team. Brandonn Almeida will hopefully show up big for South Carolina, and they still may make it close to the top 10 based off individual performances. -SP

Keep an eye on Brandonn Almeida, who should only be getting better in the short pool as he learns. -JA


Individual scorers are a bit few and far between right now, but diver Colin Zeng will add a big haul to solid Vol relays. -JA

Relays and diving will be there for Tennessee. The name of the game will be individual races for them, that’s what will determine how close to the top 10 they get. -SP


SECs were great for the Aggies, and I see no reason they won’t make their way well into the top 20 at the NCAAs. -SP

After a great SEC showing, the Aggies seem primed to make their breakout at the NCAA level official. -JA


Georgia looks in dire straits right now, but I’m expecting a lot bigger showings out of Jay Litherland and Gunnar Bentz than we’ve seen so far. -JA

The Bulldogs are currently projected to finish 20th, so even with their well-deserved reptuation for coming up big when it counts, ranking them this high feels a bit generous. -RG

If I’m being completely honest, I put Georgia 12th based on the assumption that Gunnar Bentz and Jay Litherland will be significantly faster than they were at SECs, and that there will be improvement across the rest of the roster. Without both of those things happening, the Bulldogs are in trouble. -SP


Freshman Nicholas Albiero has really come into his own, and Louisville could be rolling in the relay points. -JA

They had some breakout performances at the ACC championships, highlighted by Evgenii Somov sweeping the breaststroke events. If they can repeat those perfromances, the Cardinals could even break into the top ten. -RG

Relay points will come in for the Cardinals, and if Nicholas Albiero is in peak form, they’ll be in really good shape. -SP


This is one of the harder teams to peg; they only have six individual qualifiers, and they finished 8th at SECs, but they’ve got some very strong free relays. -RG

May be a bit of a leap to keep them in the top 10, but the relay points should roll in for the Crimson Tide. If the individual points are there, they shouldn’t have a problem being a top 10 team. -SP


Might as well call him Huge Gonzalez, because Hugo came up huge at SECs. -JA

Two words: Hugo Gonzalez. He had huge performances at the SECs, and is in the hunt for the title in all 3 of his individual events. Zach Apple will also provide a lot of points, and they could get some points out of a couple other swimmers too. If the Auburn relays can come down some, they will crack the top 10 for sure. -SP


Stanford seemed to underperform at the Pac-12s, but I’m not sure how much stock should be put in that. They have a great freestyle squad, and the 2nd biggest swimming roster, but they’ll need to swim faster than they did at Pac-12s to score significant points. -SP

It looked like no one was taking Pac 12s all that seriously, making it difficult to judge where some of these teams are at, including Stanford. While their distance group should deliver, they’ll need another lights out performance by Sam Perry to carry the shorter relays. -RG

They’ve got the second-biggest swimming roster of any team at NCAAs, but a lot of those swimmers are seeded outside of scoring range. -JA


Great medley relays, diving looks good too. They only have 6 swimmers, but they should all score, leaving the Trojans in a pretty good place overall. -SP

Not a ton of depth, but those medley relays could be absolutely outstanding. Divers came up big at Zones, too. -JA


This seems a bit low given their current projections, but they’ve underperformed, relative to their projections, each of the past two NCAAs. -RG

They’re a young team and they’ve continued to exceed my expectations all season. Their free relays look really good, and they should score big points in all the free events and IMs. -SP


With the rise of two good backstrokers, IU is suddenly one of the most well-rounded teams in the nation, with potential scorers in almost every event. Diving is going to come up huge, and it’s not out of the question this team could finish as high as 3rd. -JA

It’s appeared that the Hoosiers have chosen to focus on Big 10s the past few years, and have slipped a few spots from their projected NCAA finish. They could move up a spot or two if they’ve gone “all in” for NCAAs this year. -RG

5th honestly seems conservative for the Hoosiers, but with their recent track record at the NCAAs, I’m fine leaving them here knowing they could explode into the top 3. Their 400 medley is really fast, and I expect their 200 medley relay to be faster than 1:23 at the NCAAs. They should also be in the A final in all 3 free relays, and diving is pretty much a given for big points, so if the individual performances are there, Indiana will be in great shape. -SP


Caeleb Dressel is reaching a level where he could carry a relay win all by himself. Do the Gators use him on breaststroke on the medleys? -JA

Sophomore Khader Baqlah had a SEC meet that got overshadowed by the reocrd-breaking exploits of a certain swimmer. Add in fellow sophomore Maxime Rooney and veterans Mark Szaranek and Jan Switkowski, and you’ve got an incrediby solid core. The performance of the second-tier swimmers will probably determine whether or not that Gators can bite down on 3rd place. -RG

If Caeleb Dressel could swim more than 3 individual events, Florida would easily crack the top 3. At this point, we can count on Dressel for 60 individual points just like last last year. That’s significant, and I think we’ll see their relays shed a decent amount of time, so if they can get into a bunch of individual finals they could definitely crack the top 3. -SP


NC State always looks lights-out at ACCs, so it’s no surprise they’re leading the psych sheet scores at this stage. -JA

Fear the beard. Several of NC State top swimmers were still hirsute at ACCs, but they still demolished the American Record in the 400 free relay on the meet’s final day. They Wolfpack may be the deepest team in the field after Cal. -RG

NC State looks really good right now. Ryan Held, Justin Ress, Andreas Vazaios and Coleman Stewart will be huge for The Wolfpack both individually and in relays. Anton Oerskov Ipsen, Jacob Molacek, and Stuart Hennessey will also be significant point contributors. They’re title contenders in all the relays too, so if the rest of their roster shows up, their chances are certainly slimmer than Texas or Cal, but the team title is not completely out of the question. -SP


I don’t find the argument that Texas qualified one more diver than Cal to be very convincing as to why they’re the favorite, especially considering Cal qualified 2 more swimmers than Texas, and is the only school to reach the roster cap. I’m confident that Cal will outscore Texas in the 100/200 breast, 200/400 IM, 100/200 fly, 1650, and relays as a whole. I consider the 50 and 100 free to be toss-ups where it’s too close for me to be confident which team will come out on top in them. That being said, I don’t see how I can call Texas the favorite, even though I think the meet will be a close one. -SP

Without Ryan Murphy, this team doesn’t have any guaranteed wins, but what it does have is a ton of depth. With potential scorers in every event, Cal probably has a higher “floor” than any other team. -RG

Top-to-bottom, Cal looks really, really good. If Ryan Hoffer explodes, they’ll be hard to beat in the relays. The freshman class will decide the fate of the Bears this year. -JA


I had finally caved and listed Cal #1. Then Texas qualified three good divers for NCAAs. If John Shebat swims like he did last year, the meet isn’t close. If not, this thing might actually come down to the wire. -JA

Texas has been laying low for much of the season, but I think Tate Jackson‘s swims at Big 12 shows what this team can do. It’s still going to be close, but diving probably puts Texas on top. -RG

I have never counted Texas out this season, even if I have consistently had Cal as #1, it’s always been close in my mind. This round, I did put Cal at #1 with the most confidence I have all season, but the Texas swimmers have a history of swimming lights out when it really matters, and have traditionally been dangerous at the NCAAs. I may be wrong for putting Texas 2nd on this ranking, but I have to go with what my previewing of the meet tells me, and that’s that Cal has the advantage. -SP


Rank Jared Braden Robert Spencer
1 Texas Texas Texas California
2 California California California Texas
3 NC State Florida NC State NC State
4 Florida NC State Florida Florida
5 Indiana Indiana Indiana Indiana
6 Michigan Michigan USC Michigan
7 USC Stanford Stanford Stanford
8 Stanford USC Auburn USC
9 Alabama Auburn Michigan Alabama
10 Auburn Louisville Alabama Auburn
11 Louisville Texas A&M Louisville Louisville
12 Texas A&M Tennessee Georgia Georgia
13 Georgia Georgia South Carolina Tennessee
14 Tennessee Alabama Purdue Texas A&M
15 Minnesota South Carolina Texas A&M South Carolina
16 Purdue Arizona State Minnesota Minnesota
17 South Carolina Minnesota Tennessee Purdue
18 Arizona State Purdue Missouri Ohio State
19 Missouri Ohio State Arizona State Arizona State
20 Ohio State Florida State Arizona Arizona

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Brian Cameron
6 years ago

Where is Harvard? They beat Arizona St. they finished 18th at NCAA’s.

6 years ago

Why is Florida ST mentioned b4 UVA and ND? Both have lacked respect all year. Go HOOS!!

6 years ago

Dean Farris

Right Dude Here
6 years ago

So are we gonna get a full article for Spencer’s apology? Or just a few paragraphs in the day 4 finals recap article?

Reply to  Jared Anderson
6 years ago

Jared can you tell me who wins the World Cup. If you’re wrong I’ll sue.

Jay ryan
Reply to  Pvdh
6 years ago

Who do you think Jared is? Paul the Octopus?

6 years ago

A nice bonus for Texas will be their 3 divers. Freshman Jordan Windle is a Senior World team member; sophomore Campbell was a junior national champion multiple years and excelling at the senior level and sophomore Jacob Cornish is on his way up. This will be very interesting!!! Anything can happen!

Reply to  Theroadlesstraveled
6 years ago

Shhhhh! Keep everyone focused on the swimming heat sheet points…hoping CAL does… Go Horns!

6 years ago

I think Thomas for Cal will also be a pretty big Factor. If he could score in 3 events and maybe A final in 1 or 2 that will be huge for Cal.

Jay ryan
Reply to  PKWater
6 years ago

And those other Cal Freshman might turn some heads. Carr, Mefford, Julian. I can’t wait to see.

6 years ago

A huge factor for Texas will be Schooling. Will he place top 3 in 3 events? Or will fall apart like last year in the 200 fly? He’s also THE relay factor for Texas how ever they decide to use him.

He’s been quiet all year, and I think that’s him keeping his head down in prep for this meet. Don’t get me wrong, I think Dressel will get him in the 100 fly, but I think Joe is coming at him as the underdog and is hungry for at least one more win.

Reply to  iLikePsych
6 years ago

Two predictions regarding the 100Fly… 1) Schooling goes out faster than anyone previously on the first 50, forcing Dressel to come back, then 2) whoever swims better than 43.4 takes it. Can’t wait for this match up!!!

6 years ago

I really do think NC State is the dark horse to win it all this year.

1) They have the firepower to be in contention to win all 5 relays this year
2) As fast as the team swam at ACC’s, the large majority of them didn’t rest. Like Texas, the Wolfpack didn’t have to focus to win conference this year. I’m excited to see how much more time they can drop
3) If it wasn’t for a superhuman freak from Florida, Held could arguably walk away with 3 individual wins. So most likely 3 silvers for the meet (still a butt load of points)
4) If any year wasn’t a Texas year this would be… Read more »

Reply to  #STATEment
6 years ago

I have a hard time believing Held will get three 2nds behind Dressel. He has a lot more competition in his events.

Hint of Lime
Reply to  #STATEment
6 years ago

Josa, Quah, Lynch …. yep, apparently all not studs either for the Bears.

Right Dude Here
Reply to  Hint of Lime
6 years ago

Is that the second-to-schooling squad?

Double Arm Freestyle
Reply to  #STATEment
6 years ago

Cal’s team is entirely depth. NC State does not have the ability to win all 5 relays and will be in a tough battle for Third.

Silent Observer
Reply to  #STATEment
6 years ago

I agree they might be a dark horse….to CLAIM 2nd…but not to win. Granted, they have 12 guys and almost all of them are seeded high enough to score, maximizing each swim. BUT they don’t have the depth that you claim Cal is lacking(?)

That isn’t to say they won’t grow into a title contender, but this year, they fall a little short, but just slightly. Am I am a HUGE NC State fan. For them to climb to 1st would have to see major upsets happen w/ Cal and Texas. Josa would have to DQ his races like last year and Texas would have to miss their taper. HARD.

I will just say, never say never. Hardly… Read more »

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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