2017-2018 Men’s NCAA Power Rankings: Post-Invite 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.

Winter invites have wrapped, and it’s time to count down our top 20 men’s swimming & diving teams in the NCAA, with an eye on the ultimate NCAA finish order.

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 third rankings for the 2017-2018 season:

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

#20: Grand Canyon Antelopes (Previous Rank: N/A)

Mark Nikolaev blew up for the NCAA’s best 100 back time. With a great breaststroker (Youssef El Kamash) in an NCAA thin on breaststrokers, Grand Canyon could score in both medleys and potentially finish top-20 in their first year of Division I eligibility. -JA

#19: Minnesota Golden Gophers (Previous Rank: #19)

They didn’t really have anybody to race at their home invite, but Conner McHugh (1:54.1 breast) and Bowe Becker (43.0 free) look as good as expected -JA

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

They’re likely getting Brandonn Almeida onto their active roster for the postseason, yet the Gamecocks still move down? South Carolina hasn’t shown much relay ability and their distance crew hasn’t really popped anything huge yet. There’s room for this rank to go up dramatically, though, because that group is going to come through in February/March. -JA

#17:  Missouri Tigers (Previous Rank: N/A)

Let’s take a moment to acknowledge coach Greg RhodenbaughHe loses Chadwick, Schwingenschlogl and Sansoucie and still puts together medley relays ranked 4th and 9th nationwide. Mikel Schreuders looks legit and the sophomore class is loaded. -JA

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

Marcelo Acosta is swimming like an elite distance man – could he be a surprise factor in what could be another wild NCAA mile? -JA

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

Purdue isn’t flashy, but it’s hard to argue with the formula: a top-tier breaststroker in a wide open event discipline and reliably elite divers. -JA

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

Kyle Decoursey continues his rapid trajectory – he’s almost an 18-second sprinter at this point (19.1 at the Tennessee invite). Plus, all five relays are in scoring position, headed by the 3rd-fastest 200 medley relay in the nation. -JA

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

Sprint free relays look great. Freshman Hugo Gonzalez currently has the 2nd-fastest 200 back and the 3rd-fastest 200 IM in the nation to go with the NCAA’s top 400 IM time. That’s what you call an impact rookie. -JA

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

Don’t look now, but these medley relays feel pretty stout. Brock Bonetti and Mauro Castillo could stake the team to a half-race lead against almost anyone in the NCAA. -JA

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

They’d be a lot lower if we were basing these rankings solely on performance so far this season, but we’re assuming Gunnar Bentz will be back for the second semester and that the Bulldogs didn’t come close to showing their hand at their home invite. -RG

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

The paragon of consistency in these rankings have been the Sun Devils – #10 in all three rankings so far. Coach Bob Bowman has been building his program around relay-distance freestyle types in recruiting and it’s paying off: all three ASU relays are in NCAA scoring position with a sophomore 1:33.2 (Cameron Craig) and a freshman 1:33.6 (Grant House) in the 200 free. -JA

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

With the versatile Laurent Bams becoming a breaststroker overnight, Alabama has four relays ranking in the top 6 nationally. Robert Howard is on a roll with 19.1/41.9/1:33.7 speed and range at the Georgia Tech Invite. -JA

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

Their sprint relays have been sneaky good despite a lack of “big” names. -RG

This is a great sprint crew with Paul Powers (19.2/42.7), James Peek (19.3), James Jones (42.9) and freshman Gustavo Borges (19.4/43.4) combining for some outstanding relays. Add in the dominant distance swimmers and this team is loaded in all freestyle events. -JA

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

Santo Condorelli really came alive at the Texas Invite. All three free relays rank in the top 9 nationally and the medleys should get better with the additions of Carsten Vissering (studying abroad in Australia) and Robert Glinta (who appeared to save his mid-season rest for the Short Course European Championships). -JA

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

The Hoosiers are a tenth out of the best 400 medley relay in the nation, have the fastest 100 breaststroker in the NCAA (Ian Finnerty is the only sub-52 at this point) and that’s not even mentioning Blake Pieroniwho leads a deep, deep field of NCAA mid-sprint monsters in the 200 freestyle. -JA

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

Stanford has put a premium on distance freestyle and it’s working. Grant Shoults leads the nation in the 500 free and he and True Sweetser sit 2-3 in the mile. Don’t sleep on last summer’s breakout IMer Abrahm DeVineeither. -JA

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

Florida swam a handful of its best relays at the Purdue Invite without Caeleb Dressel, who had to leave the meet early for a personal matter. Khader Baqlah looks great, having swum lifetime-bests in the 200 free (1:33.3) and 500 free (4:16.8) this winter. -JA

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

The Wolfpack is starting to assemble its many versatile relay chess pieces into the most formidable combinations. The lowest-ranked relays for now are 5th (800 free, 400 medley) and the other three are ranked #2 nationwide. -JA

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

Really hard choice between Cal and Texas. Part of me wants to call it a tie at this point, but I feel like that would be a cop out. Cal’s relays looked great at the Georgia Invite. -SP

In my mind, they should be a clear-cut #2, but having the top national rank in 4 of 5 relays makes this a legitimate question. -JA

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

Austin Katz lit up the pool at the Texas Invite, the veterans generally solid times despite presumably not being rested much, and the medley relays looked like they’ve still got enough to stay alive. But, Cal looked very very good too. -RG

The 200 free talent is predictably insane, based on stellar recruiting the past few years. Take a look at these splits from the Texas Invite 800 free relays: 1:32.5, 1:33.1, 1:33.6, 1:33.7, 1:34.5, 1:35.4, 1:35.6, plus leadoff legs of 1:34.2, 1:35.2 and 1:35.6. -JA


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

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5 years ago

Interesting…I thought Texas did a three week rest and a “reset.”

5 years ago

Miami of Florida? Diving I presume.

5 years ago

How can this article not mention Felix Auboeck? he’s easily going to score the most points for a struggling Michigan team

Reply to  Piper
5 years ago

Hi Piper – if we tried to write a full-team recap of each team in our power rankings every time we released them, it would take us months. We’ve picked out a key point, often looking for some new information. “Felix Auboeck is really fast” isn’t really new insight – it was mentioned in a previous edition.

samuel huntington
Reply to  Piper
5 years ago

Michigan ain’t struggling this year though

5 years ago

Purdue is too low. They were 13th last year and didn’t lose any scorers. World-class dive coach and program and MAC level swim program (i.e., an occasional NCAA qualifier/scorer).

samuel huntington
5 years ago

so how did you decide to put Texas first? it looks like Texas and Cal both got two firsts and two seconds, like the same amount of points.

Captain Awesome
Reply to  samuel huntington
5 years ago

Well Jared picked Texas first and he was the one who wrote the article so…

Reply to  Captain Awesome
5 years ago

Basically, Jared and I got on the phone and argued about it until we came to a conclusion we could live with.

Silent observer
Reply to  samuel huntington
5 years ago

Same can be asked for the other split vote… NC State and Florida

Reply to  samuel huntington
5 years ago


Go Hoosiers!
5 years ago

Would also include Indiana’s diving potential. Should have at least 2 scorers there as well

Reply to  Go Hoosiers!
5 years ago

Jump Tennessee 4-5 spots with diving added. They return 2 NCAA Champions (one transfer) and have the British Junior National Champion. With potentially 7-9 NCAA top 8 scoring spots this team could really surprise folks who undervalue the diving part of the “Swimming and Diving” meet. Go VOLS!!! Coach Parrington is the best diving coach in the NCAA and he will have the team ready.

Jerimiah Knots
5 years ago

Once the Florida Gators loses Dressel they wont even be on this list. Maxime was the hopeful helper but has been very quite his whole NCAA career. Personally I think he has peaked! Dressel should have went to Texas and won multiple championships and made Unbreakable relay records!! #HOOKEM

Reply to  Jerimiah Knots
5 years ago

Chill tah it’s been a year and a half he could explode this year and last year wasn’t all that bad for him

JP input is too short
Reply to  Stooooppppp
5 years ago

Yeah, 6th in his best event as a freshman plus contributing to 2 top-8 relays ain’t exactly “quiet.” Not his fault that he shares his class with two of the best freshman freestylers in NCAA history.

And Florida has a pretty wicked incoming recruiting class… I don’t think they’re dropping out of the top 20 anytime soon.

tammy touchpad error
Reply to  JP input is too short
5 years ago

Townley has gotta the best freestyle freshman in (recent) NCAA history. I feel like someone from the 80s or 90s takes the cake on that one though (Jeff Kostoff? Joe Hudephol?) How good was Tom Dolan his freshman year? What year was he in 1995?

JP input too short
Reply to  tammy touchpad error
5 years ago

Oh, there’s definitely a list, I think Townley tops it but Kostoff and Hudepohl certainly aren’t bad choices… Craig and Farris are up there though. 1:31 200s as freshmen is wicked.

Reply to  tammy touchpad error
5 years ago

Out of the many recent freshmen winners in men’s NCAA swimming, Townley is the only one I can think of who broke the US Open record (which is effectively the fastest SCY time);
-Townley broke the 200 free record as a freshman and won two events
-Schooling won two events as a freshman, though neither was a major record
-Dressel won the 50 as a freshman but none was a major record
-Murphy won the 100 back and broke the 200 NCAA (not American/US Open) record as a freshman
-Gkolomeev & Kalisz won events as freshmen but not in record time
-Cordes broke the 100 breast American (not NCAA/US Open) record

On the women’s… Read more »

Reply to  Jerimiah Knots
5 years ago

thank you Darrell Royal

Right Dude Here
Reply to  BigCarotTop
5 years ago

Darrell *K. Royal

5 years ago

Mark Szaranak should be much better in march than he was at Purdue. Gators could content for the title

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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