2017-2018 Men’s NCAA Power Rankings: First 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.

We’re introducing a new format for our Power Rankings this fall: 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 (say, this week’s #1 team) 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 initial rankings for the 2017-2018 season:

(Also receiving votes: Arizona, Miami (FL), Notre Dame, Wisconsin)

T-#20: Harvard Crimson (2017 NCAA Finish: 27th)

Breakout freshman star Dean Farris returns, and Harvard nabbed a solid recruiting class that includes two top-20 talents: IMer Michael Zarian and freestyler Corban Rawls.

T-#20: Virginia Tech (2017 NCAA FINISH: 22nd)

All 48 NCAA points have graduated thanks to Brandon Fiala and Robert Owen. But VT recruited well and has a knack for helping less-known prospects blow up. Plus diving could keep them afloat.

#19: Ohio State Buckeyes (2017 NCAA Finish: 19th)

IMer Paul DeLakis is a massive recruiting get and fills the versatility hole left by graduated Matt McHugh. But outgoing diver Colin Zeng is the most painful loss in Columbus.

#18: Missouri Tigers (2017 NCAA Finish: 9th)

Good programs suffering big graduations – it’s the theme of these bottom few programs. Mizzou’s cupboards are extremely bare with all four individual NCAA point-scorers graduating.

#17: Tennessee Volunteers (2017 NCAA Finish: 20th)

Tennessee has got a potentially stellar distance group… if everyone can stay healthy. That hasn’t been the case for the last few years, though. Sam McHugh is an all-around animal. Joey Reilman had a nice summer and Peter John Stevens has much more scoring potential than he showed last year. Though we don’t focus much on diving around these parts, incoming transfer Colin Zeng is a huge addition.

#16: Michigan Wolverines (2017 NCAA Finish: 17th)

Felix Auboeck had a great summer and could be in the mix for multiple NCAA titles. Jacob Montague continues his meteoric rise, and the team still has freestyle prowess in Paul Powers (sprints) and PJ Ransford (distance).

#15: Auburn Tigers (2017 NCAA Finish: 12th)

Graduation hit the Tigers particularly hard in breaststroke and IM, but the sprint group is still loaded. Zach Apple is getting better at a scary rate, and Peter Holoda is still legit. Spencer Rowe should be an impact freshman in filling the breaststroke gap.

#14: Purdue Boilermakers (2017 NCAA Finish: 13th)

Purdue is pretty diver-centric right now, but it’s hard to diminish that impact after 94.5 diving points last year. Steele Johnson is the best college diver in the nation. Plus breaststroker Marat Amaltdinov should score individually and could be good enough to drag a couple relays to NCAA invites.

#13: Texas A&M (2017 NCAA Finish: 16th)

In a weak breaststroke field, there’s a thought that Mauro Castillo Luna could be an NCAA title contender. The team doesn’t graduate any of its individual NCAA scorers from a year ago, and diving doesn’t hurt, either.

#12: Louisville Cardinals (2017 NCAA Finish: 11th)

Louisville didn’t lose many individual NCAA points (outside of top scorer Grigory Tarasevich), but relays will be where the team really feels the sting of graduation. There are still some great pieces (breaststroker Carlos Claverieflyer Zach Harting, distance man Marcelo Acosta), but the Cards will have to hope versatile freshman Nicolas Albiero comes along fast enough to fill in some gaps.

#11: South Carolina (2017 NCAA Finish:15th)

It’s a really distance-based roster that won’t be much of a relay threat. But Akaram Mahmoud/Fynn Minuth make up one of the NCAA’s best distance duos and Brazilian import Brandonn Almeida might end up being the second-best freshman in this entire class.

#10: Arizona State (2017 NCAA Finish: 14th)

Cameron Craig and Grant House make up a scary (and young) relay core. Some major relay pieces graduate, so the Sun Devils’ standing depends heavily on how fast their developmental relay prospects beyond the Big 2 develop.

#9: Alabama Crimson Tide (2017 NCAA Finish: 10th)

It’s not so much that Alabama got better – it’s more that most of last year’s #8-10 teams got worse and ‘Bama got worse slower. Graduating Connor Oslin and Anton McKee is devastating. There are some good sprint pieces left though: Luke Kaliszak, Laurent Bams and Zane Waddell are all impact swimmers and getting better. This recruiting class seems like a sleeper pick to have major impact, with two 20.0/44-second sprinters and a bunch of developmental breaststrokers.

#8: Georgia Bulldogs (2017 NCAA Finish: 8th)

UGA’s gotta reload without Chase Kalisz, Pace Clark and Taylor Dale. Camden Murphy is the best fly prospect in this class, and the IM group is still in great hands with Jay Litherland and Gunnar BentzThe relays will again lean heavily on Javier Acevedo, the team’s only true sprint power.

#7: Stanford Cardinal (2017 NCAA Finish: 5th)

Abrahm Devine is coming off of a breakout summer and leads an IM group that adds two freshman 1:46s. The distance group could be nasty between Grant Shoults, Liam Egan and True Sweetser plus incoming top-20 freshman Matthew Hirschberger. It’s not the most well-rounded team yet, but Stanford is accumulating talent and depth at levels it hasn’t seen in years.

#6: Indiana Hoosiers (2017 NCAA Finish: 7th)

Blake Pieroni is the real deal and elevates every relay on this team. He leads a burgeoning sprint group that adds two big Croatian talents: Bruno Blaskovic and Nikola Miljenic. They’re both more drop-dead speedsters for now, but these Hoosier relays have a chance to be deadly over the coming year.

#5: USC Trojans (2017 NCAA Finish: 6th)

The pieces are here for this team to do something special. Dylan Carter had a massive junior year. Santo Condorelli was a bit more lackluster, but has the ability to be one of the nation’s top sprinters. Carsten Vissering could take advantage of a weak breaststroke field for big points. And the backstroke group adds international star Robert Glinta to current senior Ralf Tribuntsov. Plus watch this recruiting class, which adds 1:34.7 and 1:36.6 200 freestylers to a group that already includes Carter, one of the fastest men in history in the event.

#4: NC State Wolfpack (2017 NCAA Finish: (4th)

Justin Ress is the talk of town after an outstanding summer. He joins Olympian Ryan Held on relays that graduated some key pieces but could reload in a hurry with Italy’s Giovanni Izzo (who has split 21 on a long course relay) and the hyper-versatile Jacob Molacek. Molacek is probably the highest-impact transfer this season and should solve NC State’s breaststroke woes while also being a free relay machine.

#3: Florida Gators (2017 NCAA Finish: 3rd)

Caeleb Dressel was the best swimmer in the NCAA last spring and the best swimmer at Worlds this summer (on the men’s side, at least). Maxime Rooney already looks good and this team is loaded in the IMs. Getting arguably the best freshman backstroker in the nation (Michael Taylor) is gravy, and it sets up Florida to have five elite relays – if they can find a breaststroker.

#2: California Golden Bears (2017 NCAA Finish: 2nd)

Ryan Murphy out, Ryan Hoffer in. There’s no better way to ease the loss of an Olympic champ and world record-holder. Hoffer is the most impactful newcomer to the NCAA this year with potential to elevate any of the five relays. Cal supplemented him with the nation’s best recruiting class, including four men under 1:36.4 in the 200 free. The backstroke group has cleared out a little, but the sprint group is quietly one of the NCAA’s best between Hoffer and last year’s rookie sensations Michael Jensen and Pawel Sendyk. Oh, and don’t forget Andrew Seliskarthe all-world prospect who finally gets to step into the spotlight with Murphy gone.

#1: Texas Longhorns (2017 NCAA Finish: 1st)

Can’t argue against Texas, even with some key graduations. Joseph Schooling should be back and better than he was a year ago (and he still scored 33 points in an “off” year). John Shebat is the new NCAA leader in both backstrokes. Townley Haas is still crushing 200 frees and then crushing post-race interviews. And the incoming class includes top-tier backstroker Austin Katz and the versatile and fast-rising Sam Pomajevich. Plus three guys 1:36.0 or better in the 200 free.

Full Ranking Ballots

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

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Lost In The Sauce
3 years ago

Wait, someone voted Miami for 20th??

Speed Racer
Reply to  Lost In The Sauce
3 years ago

spencer. see ranking ballot votes. last column. has NC State finishing third like a true fan.

Oh my
Reply to  Lost In The Sauce
3 years ago

Miami doesn’t even have a men’s swim team. Bold pick.

Reply to  Oh my
3 years ago

They were 21st last year, and both of their NCAA divers come back. 7.5 points from 20th. And they added the 2016 USA Diving National Champion Zach Cooper to their roster.

Now that I think about it, I’m actually kind of pissed at myself for not putting them in the top 20 too.

ct swim fan
Reply to  Lost In The Sauce
3 years ago

Lots of diving points I guess.

3 years ago

for the Cal sprint group, i think you meant michael jensen, not thomas, who’ll score elsewhere…

Tea rex
Reply to  skip
3 years ago

I thought they meant Quah Zheng

JP input is too short
Reply to  Tea rex
3 years ago

I figured they meant Dean Farris.

3 years ago

Braden, explain NC State at #6? Not arguing, just curious.

Reply to  NCSwim
3 years ago

NCSwim – A large part of it is that I’m high on USC and Stanford this season – USC has a ton of talent right now, even if they’re not all household names, and Ted Knapp seems to have settled in at Stanford after a rough start. The other part is that NC State graduated a lot of individual points and a ton of relay swims (more relay legs than even Texas) and a lot of their depth. They’ve always been good at finding new guys to replace that depth, including some hidden gems, but I’m waiting for them to prove that they can continue to do that without Todd DeSorbo. If they have a typical NC State-like fall semester… Read more »

ct swim fan
Reply to  Braden Keith
3 years ago

I could only find 21 individual points lost, from Dahl and Linker. Relay leg wise 7 losses to 6 for Texas. I do think the only one that is not replacable with something as good or better is Dahl in the 800 relay. The rest are breaststroke legs in Medley relays and free sprint legs which I think they have addressed pretty well already. They had 30 and 35 points on USC and Stanford, so it will be close. Not sure what Stanford and USC lost and got. Finally, In looking at the results, Hennessey Stuart had a very bad NCAA meet and did not score a point in either backstroke which surprised me, so he could provide some extra… Read more »

JP input is too short
Reply to  ct swim fan
3 years ago

USC lost Reed Malone (zero individual points, one relay) and also DQd what would have been an A final relay. So that would even last year’s scoring up. Their big pickups were Robert Glinta (backstroke scorer, possibly relay piece) and Jake Sannem (1:34 200 free). And Santo didn’t have his best season considering how well he swam at the Olympics. I think with their top-end talent they could definitely challenge NC St. Not as deep.

Stanford lost Tom Kremer (3-event scorer and 4-relay guy) and Jimmy Yoder (200 fly B final). They got Mestre (drop dead sprinter), Hirschberger (potential elite miler though he hasn’t been near his times in 3 years) and a bunch of mid-D guys, all of which… Read more »

JP input is too short
Reply to  JP input is too short
3 years ago

Side note – it is within the realm of possibility to say that Stanford could have 5 guys under 14:50 in the mile come spring. That would be ridiculous.

Reply to  JP input is too short
3 years ago

Shoults, Egan, Sweetser, Hirschberger, and… who am i missing?

JP input is too short
Reply to  Jared Anderson
3 years ago

Yep. That was my thought. Not that he’ll certainly do it, but 11 seconds in a 1650 coming into college isn’t that much a stretch.

Reply to  ct swim fan
3 years ago

True – so “a lot” is overselling, but it was more individual points graduated than Stanford or USC.

NC State graduated 8 finals legs and 1 prelims-only leg. Dahl on the 800, Schillerup/Johnson in the 2free, Hren and Dahl in the 4medley, Hren in the 2medley, Bonk and Dahl from the 4free, plus Schiellerup from prelims of the 4free.

3 years ago

Just wait. Harvard’s recruit classes are getting better and better. Top 10 threat in next 2 years. Out of nowhere.

Reply to  Crimson
3 years ago

Top 10 is tough. Let’s see how they do developing these great new classes and go from there….

Reply to  Crimson
3 years ago

Only 1/4 of the writers put them on the list, good luck kev

3 years ago

Tennessee will have a better year than projected, will be a top 10 team

JP input is too short
Reply to  Michael
3 years ago

They’ll have to have some REALLY good individual swims to do that, because they are not deep at all.

The distance guys will have to peak at NCAAs, which they haven’t typically done recently.

McHugh needs to score in all three events.

Decoursey and Reilman will need to keep improving.

king steve
Reply to  JP input is too short
3 years ago

Tennesse has amazing divers as well though………………………………………………

JP input is too short
Reply to  king steve
3 years ago

They only had one diver score in 2 events last year… that’s some points, but I think my points of importance still stand.

JP input is too short
Reply to  Jared Anderson
3 years ago

Ah, the diving transfer. I did forget about that.

I didn’t see Pinion on the 17-18 roster… I know he hadn’t been healthy for a championship half of the season, but that’s a pretty big hit talent-wise.

Their sprinters made pretty good jumps last year, if they can stay that course, they could be a dark-house 200 medley relay threat.

3 years ago

I like Cal’s depth. They might end up having to leave a couple swimmers for NCAA’s.

JP input is too short
3 years ago

That’s very possible…

Past individual qualifiers:
Seliskar, Josa, Lynch, Hoppe, Sendyk, Jensen, Norman, Kao, Whittle, Thomas, Quah, Sand, Coan, Takahaski, Xie

Freshmen who could:
Hoffer, Mefford, Carr, Grieshop, Julian

And Andy Song An was really close last year too.

3 years ago

Purdue is seeded correct…but there is no way they will get any relays or other swimmers to NCAA’s. Their top class ever (rated #12 by Swimswam in 2013) graduated last year and poor coaching resulted in zero NCAA performances and little improvement. They only score points when they get a recruit already capable of scoring like their current breaststroker. They have a world-class diving program but not even close with their swim program. But i guess finishing 4th to 7th at B1G’s is satisfactory for the school. But they do have a new AD who is not a swimmer so maybe the coaches won’t be held to the same low standard as in the past.

Affiliated Boiler
Reply to  meeeeee
3 years ago

_Class of 2013_

Flager – 49.3 Fl in HS to go 46.8 Fly and split 20.5 fly in 2 Med; Brooks – 401.1 4 IM in HS to 347.0 at Purdue; Bujoczek – 24.0/51.0/150.0 lcm (346.4 400 scm) in HS went 19.9/43.4/136.3 at Purdue; Toetz HS 50.6 Fly in HS went 47.8 Fly; Ehrman – HS 55.3 Br, 147.8 IM, 140.2 relay split went 55.0 Br, 148.0, 137.8 flat start 2 Free; Nguyen – HS 57.0/202.7 Br went 55.6/200.4; Quinlan – HS 57.0/208.3 went 55.2/201.6; Curtiss HS 50.7/153.5 went 49.4/148.5; Mothersead HS 56.8/209.2 went 55.5/204.0 at Purdue (swam 2 years at Purdue).

MEEEEE – Your obsession w/Purdue is duly noted. Its the only team I’ve seen you comment on… Read more »

Reply to  Affiliated Boiler
3 years ago

Whatever. Did I say anything about education? Nope. I will find the data but swim swam has reported on time improvements at Purdue. I don’t think they are that great. Other than Flager the examples are not great. Brooks dropped in freshman year but not after. There is something missing there. Not sure what. But it’s missing.

3 years ago

Braden doesn’t have much faith in NC State.

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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