2017-2018 Women’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.

With conference meets wrapped up, it’s time for our final round of NCAA Power Rankings, looking to predict the top 20 teams in the nation in advance of the NCAA Championships.

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, UCLA)

#20: Purdue Boilermakers (PREVIOUS RANK: N/A)

Kaersten Meitz has looked strong in the distance races all year, and Purdue should supplement her with a good group of divers this week.

#19: UNC Tar Heels (PREVIOUS RANK: 17th)

Caroline Baldwin is the team’s only likely NCAA scorer, but with a great sprinter in the mix, a thin team can earn a surprising amount of NCAA relay points. -JA

#18: Wisconsin Badgers (PREVIOUS RANK: 19th)

Beata Nelson is a real star. Depth is concerning, but their relays could be competitive with some fire from the supporting cast of sprinters. -KO

#17: NC State Wolfpack (PREVIOUS RANK: 13th)

Without Courtney Caldwell and Ky-lee Perry, these relays will struggle. Elise Haan and Hannah Moore will have to really rise to the occasion. -KO

#16: Auburn Tigers (PREVIOUS RANK: 18th)

With a stable of standout sprinters and the ability to score big in 4 of the 5 relays, Auburn should be in great shape for NCAA success. -JA


Who saw the Minnesota medley relays being so dominant? The Golden Gophs sit 4th nationally in both (with far less fanfare than anyone else in the top 10), and diving should be a massive boost as well. -JA


Missouri looked amazing at their home invite in November and then just OK at SECs. Does that mean they’re losing momentum or saving their best stuff for NCAAs? Count us more toward the latter. Too much talent on this roster not to perform. -JA

#13: Ohio State Buckeyes (PREVIOUS RANK: 16th)

Great sprinters led by Liz Li, and they have other individual stars to bring in points in March. -KO

Is there a swimmer more valuable to their team than Liz Li? When she was out early in the season, Ohio State dropped out of our top 20. Now they’re 13th. What a difference a sprinter makes! -JA

#12: Kentucky Wildcats (PREVIOUS RANK: 11th)

We’ve known all year that the backstrokers would be outstanding, but the team’s young breaststroke corps (freshman Bailey Bonnett and sophomore Madison Winstead) has been the most pleasant surprise. -JA

#11: Virginia Cavaliers (PREVIOUS RANK: 12th)

The free relays rank 2nd, 2nd and 5th in the nation right now, which would be a massive point haul. There are some youngsters who are still unproven in the NCAA Championships’ bright spotlight, but vets like Jen Marrkand and Caitlin Cooper should be reliable. -JA
DeSorbo’s team is the real deal, but it remains to be seen how their newer contributors will perform on the big stage. -KO

#10: Georgia Bulldogs (PREVIOUS RANK: 6th)

Georgia is free-falling in our ranks after dropping SECs to Texas A&M by a massive 289 points. An ACL injury to backstroker Gabrielle Fa’amausili is just another cause for concern, though she’s still expected to swim at NCAAs. -JA
Still waiting for everything to come together for the Bulldogs… unless that doesn’t happen this year. -KO


Medley relays still rank extremely high. There aren’t going to be many big scorers beyond Lilly King, but she’s enough to book another top 10 slot. -JA

#8: Texas Longhorns (PREVIOUS RANK: 7th)

Texas didn’t have much reason to do much of anything at Big 12s, yet they still looked good. Last year proved they can show up well at NCAAs. -JA
Things are coming together for Coach Capitani, and freshman Evie Pfeifer was impressive at Big 12s. -KO

#7: USC Trojans (PREVIOUS RANK: 8th)

USC had trouble with depth at Pac 12s, but their top talent is NCAA A-final material, and that’s what counts. Louise Hansson, Maggie Aroesty, and Riley Scott are real stars. -KO

#6: Tennessee Volunteers (PREVIOUS RANK: 10th)

Erika Brown is on fire, and the Vols have great relays across the board. -KO

The biggest risers in our ranks for the second time this year, Tennessee had the best SEC meet imaginable. Now, though, they’ve got to prove they can back up big swims at NCAAs, particularly in the relays. -JA


The Swimulator is a little down on Louisville, but we expect those young sprint free relays to take a big step forward come NCAAs. -JA


Siobhan Haughey was fast at B1Gs, and having her on the NCAA roster would cement Michigan above the teams below them. -KO


It’s so close between the Aggies and the Golden Bears, but Cal’s sprinters are just so good and it’s hard to justify putting A&M ahead considering that. If Beryl Gastaldello can’t swim in March, it’ll be an issue. -KO

The Aggies have been dancing around the second rank all year, but with the health of star sprinter Beryl Gastaldello in question, catching Cal is just too tall an order. -JA


They looked really good at Pac-12s. Their stars performed, and more importantly, people like Sarah Darcel, Keaton Blovad, and Ali Harrison really stepped up and could be crucial at NCAAs. -KO

Keep an eye on Abbey Weitzeil, who could make a big statement this year by pushing Simone Manuel or coming up relay hero as an anchor for the Bears. -JA


Call it a perfect season for Stanford, with #1 ranks in all five of our Power Rankings. With Katie Ledecky IMing her way into history, Simone Manuel back healthy and Ella Eastin leading the nation by a second and a half in the 200 fly, the Cards should be all but unstoppable. -JA


Rank Jared Braden Karl Torrey
1 Stanford Stanford Stanford Stanford
2 Cal Texas A&M Cal Cal
3 Texas A&M Cal Texas A&M Texas A&M
4 Michigan Michigan Michigan Michigan
5 Louisville Louisville Louisville Louisville
6 Texas Tennessee Tennessee Tennessee
8 Tennessee Indiana Texas Texas
9 Indiana Texas Indiana Indiana
10 Georgia Georgia Georgia Georgia
11 Virginia Virginia Kentucky Virginia
12 Kentucky Kentucky Virginia Kentucky
13 Minnesota Missouri Ohio State Ohio State
14 Auburn Auburn Missouri Missouri
15 Ohio State NC State Minnesota NC State
16 NC State Minnesota NC State Minnesota
17 Missouri Ohio State Auburn Auburn
18 Wisconsin Wisconsin Wisconsin UNC
19 UNC Purdue UNC Wisconsin
20 Florida State UCLA Florida State Purdue

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3 years ago

In regards to Texas A & M, is Beryl definitely out? I saw that she swam a meet last weekend and went some pretty solid times. (22 low and 48 low)

Reply to  BSD
3 years ago

yeah guessing that these votes were before that. looks like she’s def swimming

3 years ago

To think that Georgia won NCAAs just 2 seasons ago, to dropping out of the top 5, and barely making the top 10 is shocking to me. But I bet they will be back in play next season with their new class.

Reply to  AvidSwimFan
3 years ago

They do graduate a lot this year!

Reply to  AvidSwimFan
3 years ago

Agreed. Olivia Carter is the real deal.

2 Cents
3 years ago

Virginia at 11 seems way too low. But, this is exactly what fueled them to dominate the ACC meet the other week. How many other schools have 3 relays ranked in the top 5? That excuse of the youngsters not being proven in the “bright lights” yet is a cop out. They have all been to Olympic Trials, Jr. Nats, Sr. Nats and their conference championship meets.

A non-e mouse
Reply to  2 Cents
3 years ago

I disagree, UVA is a team more suited to the conference meet than NCAAs this year. They just don’t quite have the top-end individual firepower to get into the top ten

samuel huntington
Reply to  2 Cents
3 years ago

their team has a lot of depth, but not enough top-end talent, which you need to score big at NCAAs. That’s why a team like USC will most likely do much better than Virginia at NCAAs, because of the big names.

Reply to  2 Cents
3 years ago

Just straight scoring the psych sheet, UVA is 8th. Texas, Indiana, and Georgia are below them on that prediction, but higher on this list. I think moving Texas above UVA is justified because they presumably didn’t rest much for Big 12s while UVA swam their hearts out to win a conference championship. Texas has a lot of room for improvement. Georgia is a perennial favorite that usually steps up at the Big Dance, so I’ll give it to them. I don’t think Indiana should be higher than the Hoos though. Lily King is already ranked 1st and 2nd in the breaststrokes so that doesn’t give her much room to move up and their medleys are also already highly ranked. They… Read more »

Reply to  2 Cents
3 years ago

Side note: Diving may also be a factor. UVA’s diver just won Zones, but I don’t know how she stacks up to the perennial top diving programs of Indiana, Texas, and Georgia.

2 Cents
Reply to  Jared Anderson
3 years ago

Didn’t your predictions have them with a less than 1% chance of winning the ACC meet also? Or a less than 1% chance to finish in the top 2?….

2 Cents
Reply to  Jared Anderson
3 years ago

Explain this then… https://swimswam.com/acc-womens-preview-beyond-psych-sheet/

From what I can tell you (swimswam) predicted the meet with a few different models… the most favorable towards UVA is using your baseline taper prediction which still said 1% chance UVA wins the meet. 2 of your models had UVA finishing 4th.

Then just above you said : “They’re 8th in psych sheet scoring with a disproportionately high percentage of those points coming from relays, where they’ll almost certainly get leapfrogged by a few teams. (Stanford, for example, is seeded behind UVA in both the 200 and 400 free relays with about a 1% chance of staying there).”

I’m not looking for “Vegas odds” (but if you were giving any,… Read more »

3 years ago

No Iowa!?!?!?! Come on, they do so well in dual meets!

A non-e mouse
Reply to  Nostradamus
3 years ago

Do they even?

Reply to  Nostradamus
3 years ago

rofl you have some serious issues

3 years ago

Swim Swam- may we please get a race video of Eastin’s 200 fly AR

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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