2018-2019 Men’s NCAA Power Rankings: December 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.

More upheaval at the top! For the second straight men’s Power Rankings, we have a new #1 as the battle for the NCAA title continues to tighten.

Through mid-season invites, we’ve got a better idea of who is swimming well and which breakout programs are continuing their momentum. Three new teams have surged their way into our top 20, and all the teams from 13th downward are still very much in flux from month to month with our rankings.

SwimSwam’s Power Rankings are the average of ballots from a panel of our top college swimming reporters. 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.

(Also receiving votes: Notre Dame, Florida State, Arizona State)

#20 (tie): Arizona Wildcats (Previous Rank: N/A)

Brooks Fail and Chatham Dobbs are swimming great, and they’re not the only ones in an explosive mid-season for fast-rising Arizona -JA

#20 (tie): Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (Previous Rank: N/A)

Caio Pumpitus is lifting the Yellow Jackets back into the national eye, and back into the national rankings -BK

Could have almost as easily gone with ACC rivals FSU or Notre Dame, and we’ll have to see which of these squads is able to get their peak performance at NCAAs. -RG

Where did these Yellow Jackets come from? Caio Pumpitis looks like a world-beater and a shocking 200 medley relay sits 3rd nationwide. -JA

#19: Harvard Crimson (Previous Rank: 18th)

They still have all four swimmers from last season’s 11th place 800 free relay, and those 12 points, plus the 30 or so Dean Farris will earn individually, already puts them right on the edge of 20th place. Umitcan Gures just went 22.8 flat start 50 fly at short course worlds, which should help their medley relay score again, despite losing Steven Tan and his 20.0 relay splits. -RG

Dean Farris is showing his backstroke speed earlier in the season than he did last year. 45.00 is a very fast mid-season 100 back, and given that, it’s possible we may see him forget the 50 free, and instead double up on Friday with the 200 free and 100 back in March. -SP

#18: Ohio State Buckeyes (Previous Rank: 17th)

The Buckeyes are a pretty balanced team between swimming and diving. They’ve got to be the highest-upside zero-point team in the current Swimulator projections. Ruslan Gaziev, Andrew Loy and Paul DeLakis should combine for some outstanding relays. -JA

#17: Purdue Boilermakers (Previous Rank: 16th)

After the Hawkeye invitational, feeling less confident about the Purdue swimmers. They’ve still got the best diving crew in the modern era of NCAA swimming. -BK

Not much new to say. Their divers are still elite. Their swimmers still aren’t helping them out much. Purdue had four divers finish in the top 8 of various events at the Texas Diving Invite without Steele Johnson even competing. Brandon Loschaivo won platform over defending NCAA champ Colin Zeng. -JA

One word: diving. -SP

#16: Minnesota Golden Gophers (Previous Rank: 13th)

Max McHugh is the headliner for Minnesota so far, but I suspect Bowen Becker will at the very least return to his times from last year. Between Those two, the Golden Gophers should be able to count on a solid amount of individual points, plus elite breaststroke and free legs on their medley relays. Minnesota’s diving squad is very likely to put points on the board too, leaving the Gophers in a great position to easily crack the top 20. -SP

Swimming-wise, Minnesota looks like the Max McHugh show so far, but the relay support pieces should come around. Don’t discount a good dive group’s impact on teams in the 15-20 range. -JA

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

Missouri had a HUGE mid-season meet, vaulting them up the mid-season Swimulator rankings to 7th (on swimming-only points). They dropped 75 poinits from mid-season to NCAAs last year, though, so some skepticism is healthy. -BK

The Swimulator has Missouri soaring in 7th place, but I have a hard time believing they’ll score more relay points (projected 102) than Michigan (36), Stanford (73) and USC (64) and almost as many as Indiana (109). Mizzou will probably be a casualty of some of those teams moving up, but the Tigers are clearly better than we projected them pre-season, especially with Nick Alexander swimming like a 3-event scorer after putting up no points last year. -JA

#14: Virginia Cavaliers (Previous Rank: 14th)

After a strong start to the season, they were missing a few key guys at the Georgia Invite and didn’t seem to be anywhere close to fully rested. I expect we’ll see a lot more from them come February and March, but it’s hard to justify moving them up any more given the mid-season performance we saw from some of the other squads. -RG

Much like with the women, it was a quiet UVA Invite for the Cavaliers, who only have two men and no relays projected to score at NCAAs currently, but do have a bunch just on the outside of the top 16. -JA

#13: Texas A&M Aggies (Previous Rank: 15th)

Shaine Casas is the real deal, and there were compelling swims across the board for this team at the Art Adamson Invite. -KO

Well ahead of where they were last year, with a good diving group to boot. There’s some variance with how the key freshmen (mainly Shaine Casas) will perform in the NCAA spotlight under heavy relay workloads, but there’s top 10 potential with this team. -JA

#12: Alabama Crimson Tide (Previous Rank: 12th)

Robert Howard may be the most underrated sprinter in college swimming. We can’t confirm rumors that the Alabama biochemistry department is working around the clock to clone Zane Waddell so he can swim both back and fly on the medley relays. -RG

Alabama tweaked their mid-season rest approach this year, leading me to believe they’ll hang onto their mid-season projected points better than last year. -JA

#11: Tennessee Volunteers (Previous Rank: 11th)

Backstrokers Joey Reilman and Matthew Garcia are swimming well. The big question is whether breaststroke speedster Michael Houlie will arrive this year after tearing up the Youth Olympic Games. If he does, the medley relays move from ‘good’ to ‘scary good’. -JA

#10: Georgia Bulldogs (Previous Rank: 10th)

Javier Acevedo‘s healthy return mid-season, with solid times, is a morale boost for the Bulldogs. -BK

It was kind of a weird invite for Georgia. Javier Acevedo and Camden Murphy looked really great. The rest of the squad didn’t put up amazing times, but that tends to be the Bulldogs’ modus operandi with mid-season invites anyway. -RG

Last year, the Georgia men were projected to score 65 points at mid-season. Then Gunnar Bentz came back, the team improved and they scored 129 in the pool. This year, they’re actually projected to score more than last year (79) with Javier Acevedo returning from injury. Meanwhile Camden Murphy is swimming like the top-5 recruit he was back in 2017. -JA

#9: Florida Gators (Previous Rank: 9th)

The Gators looked solid, if not spectacular, at the Georgia Tech Invite. It still feels like the freshman class has the potential to score some big points at NCAAs, which is what will need to happen for Florida to make the top ten. -RG

Florida’s freshman class has swum well, but is only projected to score 7 points based on the current Swimulator readings. The Gators will need much more than that to support Khader Baqlah and Maxime Rooney, who are both swimming great. -JA

#8: Louisville Cardinals (Previous Rank: 7th)

They’ve dropped way down in the Swimulator projections, but it feels like their stars haven’t all geared up at the same time yet. Zach Harting and Marcelo Acosta were most likely saving rest for Short Course Worlds. The Cardinals’ relay points should rise dramatically come ACCs. -JA

Louisville was projected to score 18 relay points at mid-season last year. This year they’re already projected to score 39. They’ll be just fine come March. -RG

#7: USC Trojans (Previous Rank: 8th)

Despite all the swimmers they lost to graduation last year, USC is finding a way to keep impressing. Carsten Vissering is looking really good in the breaststrokes, and has provided some great relay splits for the Trojan medley relays. Patrick Mulcare is looking like a serious threat in the 200 back after his unshaven 1:38 200 back. Victor Johansson, Alexei Sancov, Alex Valente and Nikola Miljenic are also swimming fast times through the midpoint of this season. -SP

A team with a typically smaller roster than most other power programs, USC relies on its stars, and Carsten Vissering and Patrick Mulcare have been impressive thus far in the year. -KO

Yeah, the Trojans graduated a lot… but I think we’ve been snowed on how well their relays would regenerate. The 200 medley is ranked #2 nationwide and looks like a legit group of studs. The development of Nikola Miljenic (19.8/43.9 at this time last year in Indiana, 19.3/42.9 this season) has been the key. -JA

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

Jack LeVant‘s first taper meet with the Cardinal was a tour de force, but Stanford needs some sprinters to step up after losing Sam Perry to graduation. Keep an eye out for Alberto Mestre, who split 19.0 on their 200 free relay as a freshman last year, but who’s been MIA so far this season. -RG

All of the Stanford divers are freshmen, but so far, especially Conor Casey, they’re living up to billing. The springboard specialist should be a double-digit scorer at NCAAs -BK

Have you seen this distance group? Four men under 15 in the mile and four more under 4:17.1 in the 500. -JA

Grant Shoults had a shaky return at the Texas Invite, and he’ll need to get back to form to help out a Stanford team that could really benefit from his points. -KO

Great 500/1650 group. I expect Grant Shoults to be in better form in March than we saw him at the invite. Not to mention the potential for some diving points. Things are looking good for Stanford. -SP

#5: Michigan Wolverines (Previous Rank: 6th)

The Wolverines have surprised me a little bit with how good they’ve looked this season. Patrick Callan is proving himself to be one of the most impactful freshmen in the NCAA. Ricardo Vargas is looking excellent in the distance freestyles, and of course, Felix Auboeck is always a threat in the 500 and 1650. Very solid IM group too. -SP

Like their women, the mid-distance/distance group on this team is deep, getting new blood with Patrick Callan. Gus Borges has slotted in as their go-to sprint weapon, and he keeps getting better. -KO

I came very close to putting them ahead of NC State, as they should have more individual scorers, and it seems like they’ve got a lot more room to move up in relay scoring. They’re one stud sprinter away from me feeling confident about pushing them up to 4th. -RG

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

Relays were good at the IU Invite, and I suspect we’ll see them drop fairly considerably in February and March. Coleman Stewart is looking incredible in back and fly. Andreas Vazaios is looking good through the first semester, as well as Jacob Molacek. Nyls Korstanje and Justin Ress will make a lethal sprinting duo as well. -SP

Top-ranked 400 medley nationally, and most of the relays still have plenty of time to realistically drop. -JA

Much like Indiana, this year’s NC State team looks very similar to last year’s team. They’ll get big points from guys like Vazaois, Stewart, and Ress, and all five of their relays could (should?) finish in the top three. RG

#3: Indiana Hoosiers (Previous Rank: 3rd)

Indiana still has a very tough, well-rounded team, but I think they’ve been somewhat forgotten, since their mid-season meet was 2 weeks before Cal and Texas’. It must be noted, however, that the Hoosiers do have a lot going for them. Mohamed Samy, Gabriel Fantoni, and Bruno Blaskovic have put up great times through the first semester. Of course, IU still has a number of potential 2019 NCAA champions as well, such as Vini Lanza, Ian Finnerty, Zach Apple, and I also consider Michael Brinegar to be a potential champion in the mile. -SP

They’ve been relatively quiet so far, but this is essentially the team that pushed Cal and Texas at NCAAs. -RG

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

Andrew Seliskar has been on an absolute tear this season, but that was somewhat expected. The more important reason this Cal team is looking so good is that swimmers like Trenton Julian, Michael Jensen, and Carson Sand are swimming so well. All swimming faster than this point last season, and thus increasing Cal’s already impressive depth. The looming potential of Hugo Gonzalez joining Cal for the 2nd semester would provide a huge boost for a team that already is, in my opinion, the best, most well-rounded swim team in the NCAA. If not for diving, I would consider heavily consider Cal the favorite for NCAAs. -SP

Still looks to be shaping up the same as last year. Cal probaly has a 40-50 point edge on the swimming side of things, but Texas should easily be able to top that on the boards. -RG

Andrew Seliskar is a revelation, really, and Reece Whitley is definitely the real deal that we thought he’d be. Cal has a potential NCAA A-finalist (or several candidates, in some cases) in every single swimming event. -KO

If Hugo is cleared to race this season, then another to-the-wire men’s NCAA title battle becomes even better. -BK

Obviously, the swimming couldn’t have gone a whole lot better. Low-key the most important piece: Michael Jensen is almost a second faster than a year ago in his 100 free. His up-and-down performances at NCAAs last year really took a toll on the relays. (Side note: I’m not factoring in Hugo Gonzalez quite yet. Still very unclear whether he’ll join Cal this season or at all) -JA

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

Charlie Scheinfeld developing as quickly as he did in Texas’ program provides a massive boost to this team. It not only now puts the Longhorns in a position of scoring in both breaststroke events, it gives the medley relays some extra fire. To that end, Scheinfeld has proven himself to be an excellent relay swimmer, posting very fast times, and showing that he’s not afraid to go up against breaststroke stars like Ian Finnerty and Carsten Vissering. There should be no more questioning of whether Texas can put together title-contending medley relays, squashing one of the few things to worry about with this team at the beginning of the season. -SP

Texas coach Ed Reese / he had so many men / he tapered them at different rates for the Hall of Fame weekend / and when they were up they were up / and when they were they down they were down / and when they were only halfway up they were neither up nor down -RG

Scheinfeld’s glo-up is critical for Texas and could end up being what they can hang their hat on as to what ‘pushed them past’ Cal, besides their obvious diving advantage. Instead of getting a 53.6/1:55.9 breaststroker and having him maybe get down to a 52/1:54, or something more modest like that, he’s blown up to a 51.6/1:52.7. That medley piece is so key and something Texas has been lacking for all too long, and now it’s finally coming into place. -KO

They’ve got a breaststroker in Charlie Scheinfeld, and they’ll be able to figure out fly and free legs between Tate Jackson and Drew Kibler. That answers my biggest concern about Texas. With diving, they’re still comfortably #1. -JA

Full Ranking Ballots

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

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Lazelo Cseh swims at the 2036 Olympics
2 years ago

I’m very excited to see how all the freshman compete in March. The team title will ultimately depend on the freshman’s ability to step up, both individually and on relays. Based on what I’ve seen so far this year, I am confident that they will.

Lazelo Cseh swims at the 2036 Olympics
2 years ago

You can’t replace Dean.

2 years ago

Tennessee’s Houlie has changed his bio to class of ‘23 in his instagram bio, for what it is worth

JP input is too short
Reply to  PNW
2 years ago

Maybe he’s counting on the five-year plan? 😛

Reply to  PNW
2 years ago

probably coming in halfway through the season and won’t graduate until ’23?

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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