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

With NCAA mid-season invites starting this weekend, it’s time for our second shot at power ranking the NCAA programs. There’s a big shakeup at the top this week, with 3 of 4 voters selecting a new #1, and there’s also some tight battles going on for spots 5-8.

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 second rankings for the 2017-2018 season:

Also receiving votes: Utah, Miami (FL), UNC

#20: Florida State Seminoles (Previous Rank: N/A)

Despite not having a lot of recognizable names, Florida State has the 6th-ranked 800 free relay and 200 free relay this year. That’s courtesy of senior Chad Mylina potential individual sprint scorer. -JA

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

They’ve been largely ignored, and I’ll be interested to see what they do at their invite. -SP

Conner McHugh says the Golden Gophers are under the radar and don’t really mind it. If he keeps beating big international contributors like Jacob Montague head-to-head, his Gophers won’t be under the radar for much longer. -JA

#18: Notre Dame Fighting Irish (Previous Rank: N/A)

Freshman distance swimmer Zach Yeadon looks to be the real deal this year. -BK

#17: South Carolina Gamecocks (Previous Rank: #11)

No Brandonn Almeida, and no information about his whereabouts, leaves enough uncertainty to drop the Gamecocks. -BK

The distance group is still good, but Almeida is probably the difference between South Carolina finishing closer to 10th or 20th. -JA

#16: Tennessee Volunteers (Previous Rank: #17)

Kyle Decoursey ranks 5th nationwide in the 50 and Sam McHugh third in the 400 IM. There’s some serious overlooked talent on this Tennessee roster; it just depends on how well it shows up come postseason. -JA

#15: Purdue Boilermakers (Previous Rank: #14)

Purdue already has 4 NCAA B cuts this season. If that means they have the potential to score in more than one individual swimming event at NCAAs (they scored in one event last year), then they could actually be looking at finishing closer to the top 10, considering their diving almost takes them there by itself. -SP

#14: Auburn Tigers (Previous Rank: #15)

Dual meets aren’t everything, but they beat Alabama pretty handily. Peter Holoda and Zach Apple are a great sprint duo, and Auburn has some strong divers to boot. -JA

#13: Louisville Cardinals (Previous Rank: #12)

Marcelo Acosta went nuts over the weekend and blasted a nation-leading 14:45 in the mile. And the Cards hit the fastest 800 free relay time nationwide, too, and it’s a good bet a number of fairly-dedicated swimming fans couldn’t name half their relay members. -JA

#12: Texas A&M Aggies (Previous Rank: #13)

Sure, that upset of Texas isn’t exactly an omen of a coming NCAA title run, but the Aggies look quite solid with the combination of backstroker Brock Bonetti and breaststroker Mauro Castillo Luna ranking highly in the NCAA. -JA

#11: Michigan Wolverines (Previous Rank: #16)

Michigan’s Ricardo Vargas Jacobo is one of only 3 swimmers sub-9 in the 1000 free thsi year – and he’s only a freshman. The Wolverines have the best distance group in the country early on this year. -BK

Going into this past weekend, Michigan had faster free relay times than NC State, and they’ve been looking better than expected. -RG

#10: Arizona State Sun Devils (Previous Rank: #10)

What a world we live in: Arizona State is ranked in the top 10 for a second consecutive month while Arizona goes completely unranked. -JA

ASU has looked great so far this season, but I would need to see them good performances across the board at the Texas Invite to consider them a top 10 team. -SP

#9: Georgia Bulldogs (Previous Rank: #8)

It’s hard to gauge exactly how big of a blow, if it even is one at all, Gunnar Bentz breaking his collarbone is. For right now I feel comfortable moving Georgia out of the top 10, but I’m looking at it as more of a temporary thing, until I can see how his recovery is coming along. -SP

#8: Alabama Crimson Tide (Previous Rank: #9)

I was skeptical of Alabama in the first round of rankings, but I can’t ignore dual meet times of 1:18 in the 200 free relay and 3:09 in the 400 medley relay, and what that means about the team as a whole. -SP

Did you know Alabama leads the nation in the 400 medley relay by a full second? With Laurent Bamsthey might be the best ‘breaststrokerless-team-filling-breaststroke-spot-with-versatile-sprinter’ in the nation. And that group surprisingly comprises almost all of the best teams in the nation. -JA

#7: USC Trojans (Previous Rank: #5)

Carsten Vissering training on his own in Australia for half the year scares me, especially when he was the key advantage in my prediction of USC as NCAA title favorites in the 400 medley relay. But Dylan Carter is swimming great and Robert Glinta is the real deal in a backstroke group that holds 3 of the 4 fastest 100 times in the nation this year along with the top 2 times in the 200.

#6: Stanford Cardinal (Previous Rank: #7)

Grant Shoults, True Sweetser and the distance crew look great. Abrahm DeVine has the nation’s fastest 200 IM time so far by half a second. -JA

#5: Indiana Hoosiers (Previous Rank: #6)

Some great performances early in the season, and if these rankings were just based on who is “hottest” right now, the Hoosiers would be in the top three. Still, not sure they’re going to have enough depth to crack the top four at NCAAs. -RG

Maybe beating Texas isn’t the rare achievement it looked like way back in October. But Blake Pieroni looks great and Ian Finnerty could take advantage of a wide open national breaststroke race – if he can show up for NCAAs. -JA

#4: NC State Wolfpack (Previous Rank: #4)

I know [picking NC State 3rd] will be outrageous to plenty of people, but NC State is deep, they’ve got the individual performances, and their relays are looking spectacular this season. I’m sure a lot of people would say Florida is better than NC State, but I’ve now lined the 2 teams up next to each other 2 separate times, and I don’t see how Florida is the better team. -SP

The relays are coming together something special, with #1 ranks nationally in the 200 medley and 400 free. The big question: what does Jacob Molacek swim? In three meets this year, he’s swum 100 fly twice, 100 breast twice, 100 back once, 100 free once and 50 free once individually. -JA

#3: Florida Gators (Previous Rank: #3)

The Gators have 3 of the top 7 times in the nation in the 200 free, and that’s not even counting Caeleb DresselWatch out for that 800 free relay come post-season -JA

They were 4th in my first ranking, and I haven’t seen a reason to change my mind yet. -SP

#2: Texas Longhorns (Previous Rank: #1)

Trying not to overreact to the dual meet loss to Texas A&M (sans Joseph Schooling), but Cal has shown more early in the year than Texas has. -BK

Chances are they they’ll finish 1st or 2nd, but they need to show some signs of life, especially given how strong California and Florida have been. -RG

Right now the biggest thing for me regarding Texas is their relays. I see no reason to be excited about any of their relays as of this point in the season, especially the medley relays. Until I see evidence Texas can overcome the loss of Jack Conger and Will Licon on their relays, they’re not getting back to #1. -SP

Texas will be fine. They’ve earned my trust and I’m keeping them #1 despite a whole slew of dual meet losses. They looked great at their intrasquad and are presumably swimming tired at the moment. It won’t take much more than a month for the Longhorns to blast some invite times and put themselves back into consensus #1 territory. -JA

#1: California Golden Bears (Previous Rank: #2)

What Cal loses in Ryan Murphy’s graduation they make up for with their butterfly group. They have the 3 fastest 100 yard flys and 2 fastest 200 yard flys in the nation so far this year. Justin Lynch is really coming into his own as a senior (#1 in the nation in the 100 fly and 100 free). The make-or-break moment for Cal will be who they use on the backstroke leg of their mid-season invite. If they can find a 46 there, they’ve got a chance at upsetting Texas in March -BK

Ryan Hoffer hasn’t even looked good yet and it barely even matters. Andrew Seliskar leads the nation by more than four seconds in the 400 IM, and arguably his chief competition is coming back from a broken collarbone. Plus Cal is very strong in the breaststrokes, where the rest of the top 4 are all legitimately weak. -JA


Full Ranking Ballots

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

In This Story


  1. Steve Nolan says:

    Texas just got their first win of the season, clearly they should be unranked.

  2. 50free says:

    “bear in mind these rankings are not an opportunity to personally attack any specific writer.” How can you expect me to not personally attack someone just because they have a different opinion then me?

  3. j pine says:

    Technically if the Texas Orange-White intrasquad was an official meet, they would have plenty Top 10 times. Especially from Joseph Schooling (1:41.77 200 fly, 19.32 50 free, 43.01 100 freestyle relay leadoff) Don’t think their recent dual meet showings are a cause for concern

  4. JP input is too short says:

    I’m going to say 200 IM, 100 breast, 100 free for Molacek in championship meets.

    • Oldswimfan says:

      As a local swim coach in Raleigh, I cannot tell you how much I love taking my swimmers to NC State swim meets. They are fun and exciting!

      It looks to me Guntoro is getting Molacek back to ‘all around’ swimmer shape this early season. However, no 200 IM so far. Molacek went 19.0 last year… could potentially be 18 in March and that would score the A final

      • JP input is too short says:

        It’s kind of an interesting thought experiment. Molacek and Ress overlap in quite a few events (they’re both elite sprinters, flyers, backstrokers and 200 IMers). Of course Ress stretches up to the 200 and Molacek adds breaststroke prowess.

        From an ACC standpoint, I wonder if one of them will do the 200 IM first day and the other do the 50 free so they minimize chances of one of their lower-ranked guys getting butted out of a final (Stuart 200 IM or McGlaughlin 50 free for example).

        Which may mean they do totally different lineups at NCAAs. They have so much flexibility across the sprints that really anything is on the table.

        • Oldswimfan says:

          That’s a good point on the flexibility across the sprints. I’m excited to see what Guntoro can do with this sprint crew. His passion for NC State is second to none!

          Bottom line… Raleigh swimming community is cheering for the Wolfpack! Braden Holloway and staff have built an amazing program full of great role models.

    • korn says:

      Definitely breast on their medleys!

  5. JP input is too short says:

    On Cal: “If they can find a 46 [in the 100 back]…”

    They don’t really need to find one. Quah’s best is 46.2.

  6. Buona says:

    Quah Zheng Wen has a chance to win 200 fly. Have a feeling he will do well in 2018 NCAA.

  7. Hoos Your Daddy says:

    Three top 10 relays, 10th in the 2fly, and 2nd in the mile. I know it’s hard to be serious about UVA after they scored 0 points at NCs last year but c’mon, even UNC got a vote here. Regardless, I’d love to hear people’s opinions on them.

    • JP input is too short says:

      There may be something there if Whiteside isn’t hurt/quit (he hasn’t swam a meet for them this year if I’m not missing anything though he is still on their roster).

      They’ve covered their big weakness from last year with Barnum and Otto on breaststroke and they have a decent stable of sprinters with Whiteside (if he’s back), Clark, Schilling, Georgiadis, Baker, Keblish. They’re not deep by any means but they could possibly score some relays at NCAAs if they play their cards right.

    • Spencer Penland says:

      I actually considered Virginia very seriously in my rankings, they’ve looked way better than I expected them to. I’m mostly waiting to see what they can do at the Georgia Invite, so I can either confidently put them in the top 20, or leave them out.

  8. Northeast Swim says:

    Sleeper: Harvard. Only one meet so far this season and they were unsuited. They looked solid with Logan Houck negative splitting a 9:05 1000 and Brennan Novak hitting a 4:23 500. Both could look to score at NCAAs this year. Of course Dean Farris was stellar as well for this point in the season. Assuming Farris replicates or betters his performance from last year, if you add national teamer Houck (15:01 1500 LCM) and Novak (23rd in 500 and 20th in 1650 at 2016 NCAAs) into the equation plus a few scoring relays then Harvard should break the top 20 come March. Considering they were 27th last year with 1 individual scorer and 1 scoring relay, there should be a big jump on the national stage this season… Definitely a program on the rise that is sometimes overlooked due to its position outside of a power 5 conference.

    • Braden Keith says:

      Northeast Swim – you broke one of the cardinal rules of commenting on SwimSwam – you commented on Harvard and Dean Farris wasn’t the first swimmer you mentioned.

      But yes, Harvard has a good team. And they seem to have overcome the hurdle that has plagued a lot of good Ivy League teams in the past – they drop time at NCAAs (not across-the-board, but at a fairly high percentage). Still, the jump from 27th to 20th is a pretty big one – last year, would’ve taken 31 points to make up that gap. We’ll have to see where things shake out after they get a few more meets in.

      • Swimnut says:

        Harvard is objectively better than FSU.

        • Braden Keith says:

          Bold statement. Elaborate.

        • JP input is too short says:

          I’d agree with that. FSU’s only real advantage over Harvard is the sprint crew, and Harvard isn’t really that far off assuming Farris swims all the free relays – Harvard would have been a 2:57.5 400 free relay at their opening meet had they swapped Reihman’s 47.1 split in the A relay with Kim’s 44.4 in the B relay. Harvard also put two 200 MRs together that are faster than FSU has been this year.

          Harvard blows FSU out of the water in distance free. They’re better at backstroke and probably breaststroke (though McNamara their best breaststroker didn’t swim their only meet so far so I don’t know about him), about even in fly and IM.

          I don’t know much about diving, but they both have diving teams. Not sure how that would tilt balance at all.

    • crooked donald says:


  9. BSD says:

    I’m making a super early prediction that Florida men will win NCAAs

  10. Years of Plain Suck says:

    Off-Topic Question:
    If you were a college swimming coach on a goodwill trip to China, and three of your swimmers got arrested for shoplifting, and the president of the US managed to free them, what would your punishment for them when they refurned? Kicked off the team? 1-meet suspension? Loss of scholarship? Expulsion? Weekend roadside garbage pickup?

  11. Swammerererer says:

    Notre Dame beat Louisville head to head…..should count for something, and both teams swam very well!

    • Swammerererer says:

      ND beat Purdue as well….also ranked ahead of them

      • Stooooppppp says:

        And auburn beat Alabama, and everyone beat Texas… doesn’t matter so much the outcome of duel meets but how a team is looking overall. Louisville is obviously better than Norte dame for now based on personal bests and depth. Notes dame is much better than Purdue but diving is the difference there I believe.

  12. Swimmer1 says:

    Iowa just beat Minnesota and Purdue this season. Just saying

    • Jared Anderson says:

      We went over this a lot in our last women’s ranks. Dual meet results aren’t a great indicator of postseason success, because they’re two very different entry and scoring formats and come at very different times of the year. Texas A&M also beat Texas. The Notre Dame women beat Louisville. Upsets abound. We still gear our rankings more towards NCAA viability than dual meet success; that’s what makes these rankings unique from the CSCAA dual meet poll.

      • Swammerererer says:

        While I agree they clearly arent an indicator of postseason success, shouldn’t the current rankings be based on what has happened? Barring anything surreal, I don’t see Indiana winning the men’s NCAA meet but that doesn’t mean they dont deserve their spot at 1 for who they’ve beaten so far. Again, could be wrong here….just fun to discuss!

        • Jared Anderson says:

          Swammerer – that’s more the role of the CSCAA dual meet rankings, which tend to fluctuate a lot more with dual meet results. We tailor our power rankings to NCAAs, with a lot more weight placed on postseason viability, since that’s what most swimming fans care about the most.

    • nostradamus says:

      Iowa has a weak championship roster and is known to rest heavily for in season meets.

  13. Swimmer1 says:

    Iowa just beat Minnesota and Purdue. Just saying

  14. Swimmer says:

    Texas is indeed a good team. It is interesting their rank is based on history and potential and not what they have done so far this year. This year has the potential to be a great NCAA meet with Cal, Indy, NC State, Florida and Texas all in the mix especially when the diving points are added in. Can’t wait till March

    • ex quaker says:

      I would say it’s more likely their typical annual trajectory. They had a slow start last year as well and we all know how that turned out.

      • crooked donald says:

        Not this slow though.

        • Dudeman says:

          Everyone was panicking last year when they were slower than the 2015 early season as well. Like Eddie and his swimmers have said, each year gets harder than the previous so they will go slower if they are doing harder workouts and harder lifting. Come NCAA’s they will be fine, they might have more pressure from other teams because they lost some big point scorers but overall they are solid and November swims are not indicative of their performance in March

        • Hoosier Daddy says:

          It’s amazing to me that people on this forum are ready to believe that a team full of Olympiams and All Americans and guided by the GOAT Coach is suddenly incapable of swimming fast and should be written off as if the past few years is some kind of fluke. I’m not saying that they’ll win NCs but you fan boys need to take our heads out of the sand and gaze at the big picture.

    • Caleb says:

      ah the optimism of November

    • Swimmer1 says:

      Of course their rank is based on history! Everyone knows that swimmers are largely respected for their best recent tapered time ( pastvyear) not their current mid season heavy weight training time. Soooo yes, Townley Haas is more likely to win the 200 free with a time close to 1:30 than he is to go a 1:37 as in recent dual meets. Why is this difficult for people to grasp? This isn’t basketball.

      • JP input is too short says:

        That’s what I don’t get in the freakout about Texas.

        Townley is not suddenly a 1:37 200 freestyler at peak. Shebat is not suddenly a 48 backstroker at peak. Texas is not going to max out at a 1:20 200 free relay.

        You’d think Eddie would have the benefit of the doubt in the swim community by this point. Dude knows what he’s doing. Does this team have questions (namely breaststroke, and a little bit of sprint depth with Conger gone and their next real monster class a year away)? Yes. But they are certainly not dead in the water.

        • crooked donald says:

          They’re slower this year than last, and the Texas guys did not do as well as most expected at Worlds and Trials. Conger, Smith, Licon, Schooling — all off, and after Haas blazed the Trials 200 free, he didn’t drop much. Shebat was terrible this summer in back. Even Eddie’s fallible. They’re vulnerable. It’s easy for the non-marquee guys to get pumped when you have Licon, Smith, Conger dominating. We’ll see what leadership Haas and Schooling have.

  15. nostradamus says:

    whaaaat, no Iowa? But their instagram has them ranked…! Clearly this is a poor ranking.

  16. Murica says:

    Between the 2 freshman backstrokers, Hoffer, Seli, Etc if they can’t find a 45.4 I will be shocked. I think we haven’t seem and maybe won’t see how good the Cal freshmen really are until NCAAs

  17. marklewis says:

    Texas probably will score in the 400s (points) this year instead of their 2017 total of 542. They’re like a team coming off a Super Bowl win where some of their tops guys retired afterward.

    I still think the battle between USC, Stanford, and Indiana for that top 5 spot will be one to watch. Indiana will need to up their game on the last day of the NCAAs compared to last year. They scored just 40 points on the last day out of their total of 229.5.

    Maybe Swim Swam can do a story on the Battle for the Top 5 with these three teams.

  18. Right Dude Here says:

    Picture will become much clearer after the invites.

    Also, recent comments of mine have caused some confusion.
    I am a supermassive Texas fan. I am not on the team. The opinions I post here do not reflect the views, opinions or thoughts of anyone with the program.

  19. Swimswum says:

    A 2017 May graduated NCAA swimmer on a team in the top five I wrote a summary for the October rankings.
    I like #20 through #12 except I think that Auburn should be ahead of A&M. Notre Dame has been the surprise of the season for me thus far.
    Michigan-has looked surprisingly good this year, they traditionally swim fast in season. Borges has added another sprinter to solidify their relays and Auobeck and the other big names continue to be strong.

    I would slide ASU and Michigan ahead of Georgia. Bentz’s injury and lack of sprint program while loosing a big senior class has me low on the dawgs.

    Alabama has swam extremely fast and has put up no joke times. They historically take a target week like Michigan leading up to a big meet so we must take the very fast results with a little bit of salt. Nonetheless they are fast so far with proven NCAA scorers.

    USC at 7 is accurate because Vissering not swimming scares me big time. Glinta is every bit the real deal an Olympic finalist should be and Carter is the stud we all know he is. Conderelli and Mulcare look like they are bouncing back strong. Remember they DQ’d a relay last year.

    I wanted to rank USC ahead of Stanford. Just simply to big of a summer from so many guys. Mestre looks solid thus far and will be a big difference maker on the relays.

    Indiana has looked phenomenal so far. Pieroni is the real deal, Lanza is ahead of schedule, Finnerty leading the nation, and Mohammed Samy coming from nowhere for backstroke is huge. They have the best diving from the top 10 teams and that is not close. The key to me was they swam similar times or faster from the Texas to Tennessee dual meets hinting towards the fact they really did not rest as much as you would think to beat down on Texas. Still need to show they can fully perform at NCAAs though.

    I am truly stumped on the top 4. I essentially have #4 NC State, #3 Florida, #2 Texas, and #1 Cal.
    NC State has looked CRAZY good I would bump them up, but I am extremely high on Florida this year if the right guys take the right steps.
    Florida- I think they have a outside shot to win the whole meet. Its a little crazy, but I think this is a three way race.
    Texas- In Eddie I trust. That being said, there is no breaststroke and I think that costs them big time this year. Team is simply not as well rounded as before in my opinion and I think their margin for error is very small. Also worries me about reports of giving up against NC State.

    Cal- Simply looked very good to me. Deep sprint crew, Hoffer is getting better after a rough first meet, Seliskar is back after not competing this summer, and very deep in butterfly. The freshman not named Hoffer will be the difference and have been solid thus far.

    Bottom line this will be a GREAT year and I am pumped.

  20. Wahoowah says:

    How is Virginia not here? They BEAT Louisville (#13?) in their Dual meet this past week if Virginia had their divers compete. Beat them swimming points.

    • Jared Anderson says:

      Wahoowah – your exact question has been addressed several times in this very comment section. Scroll around for a bit and you’ll find your answer.

  21. Rafael says:

    Jared maybe Brandonn is not swimming yet because he has The Open Championship (06~09 of December) which is LCM.

  22. CHELSEA FC says:

    Pretty accurate! ACC is looking stronger than ever,

  23. Swam Fan says:

    As previous years have shown, Texas will be just fine. The fall is a notoriously difficult training period for them. I would also take how they do at their December invite with a grain of salt, knowing that Eddie does not rest that team for anything but NCAAs during college season. That being said, I do not believe they are in the clear to run away with the title this year, as Cal has shown serious fire power in their returners and potential in their newcomers. Really hoping it comes down to a battle for points between these two teams come March and not another Texas slaughter.

  24. Bay City Tex says:

    It will be closer this year, no doubt. Windle is
    diving really well right now, and could be e difference maker this year. Horns will eventually be dethroned, but probably not this year.

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About Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson just can’t stay away from the pool. A competitive career of almost two decades wasn’t enough for this Minnesotan, who continues to get his daily chlorine fix. A lifelong lover of writing, Jared now combines the two passions as Senior Reporter for SwimSwam.com, covering swimming at every level. He’s an …

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