2018-2019 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.

NCAAs are fast approaching, and with psych sheets out and events finally selected, we’ve put together our final edition women’s Power Rankings.

The conference rounds saw some huge shake-ups – in particular, two women’s teams surged to much higher ranks. The Auburn women had an outstanding SEC showing and vaulted from 17th to 12, while the NC State women rode a dominant ACC performance from 10th to 7th in our final ranks.

Stanford remains our consensus #1, and in general, we saw a lot of consensus from our rankers. In fact, we all had the exact same top 5, with three more teams later in the ranks where all five rankers agreed exactly.

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.

Biggest risers:

  • Auburn: #17 to #12
  • NC State: #10 to #7

(Also receiving votes: Ohio State, Arizona State)

#20: Arizona Wildcats (Previous Rank: #19)

With Ledecky gone, Kirsten Jacobsen very much has a chance at a title in the 500 free, but the field is crowded. After a lackluster dual meet season, the Wildcats brought it at Pac-12s, and their relays look strong. -KO

#19: Arkansas Razorbacks (Previous Rank: #20)

Hopkin + Schultz + relays. -KO

Arkansas may win the NCAA Efficiency Title: the most points per qualified athlete. Anna Hopkin is going to score a truckload, plus relays. Diver Brooke Schultz should put up significant points, too. -JA

#18: Missouri Tigers (Previous Rank: #18)

Mizzou moved up from seed pretty significantly last year, and they come in with more seeded points this season. A big meet from Ann Ochitwa would mean a lot to the relays, seeded to score 44 points. -JA

#17: Florida Gators (Previous Rank: #16)

Can Florida’s young stars continue carrying this team through NCAAs? The SEC results were impressive. -JA

Sherridon Dressel has arrived. New coaching system and a good freshman class have both worked well this year. -KO

#16: Wisconsin Badgers (Previous Rank: #14)

The Badgers will go as far as Beata Nelson takes them, but we know that she’s going to take them far. She’s favored to take both backstrokes and her IM is reaching new heights. Her sprint free is better than ever, too, and freshman Lillie Hosack (along with a solid supporting relay cast) should offer up some nice support. -KO

#15: Kentucky Wildcats (Previous Rank: #13)

I don’t think we’ve seen the best that the Kentucky Backstroke Machine can do yet this year. Asia Seidt is primed to go sub-1:49 in the 200 back this year. -JA

#14: Georgia Bulldogs (Previous Rank: #15)

Georgia generally performs very well at NCAAs. This is a much younger, much different Georgia roster than we’ve seen the past couple years, but I’d expect that trend to continue. The firepower is limited, but UGA will get the most out of what they have. -JA

#13: Minnesota Golden Gophers (Previous Rank: #11)

Chantal Nack was absolutely lights-out at Big Tens. If she can match that level of swimming at Nationals, she’s the kind of big-time national performer who could pull the Golden Gophers into the top 10. -JA

#12: Auburn Tigers (Previous Rank: #17)

Auburn had an oustanding month of February. Psych sheet scoring puts them – incredibly – in sixth place nationally. I don’t think they’ll hold that, but we’ve definitely been too low on Auburn’s women, who seem to be thriving under a new coaching staff. -JA

Auburn is seeded 6th at NCAAs in Gary Taylor‘s first season. That might be the biggest one-year turnaround of the decade. How much of that can they hold on to at NCAAs? -BK

Auburn is a very different team from last year and Claire Fisch‘s explosions are huge for their relays — past that, she is definitely an A-final favorite in the 50 free. -KO

#11: Virginia Cavaliers (Previous Rank: #12)

My gut says that UVA is going to be more impressive at NCAAs than they were at ACCs. They have a huge team coming to the big meet, but nobody is really slated to challenge for any titles. Their depth is key, so they need everyone to pitch in — no relying on one or two stars to deliver. -KO

ACC fans would have you believe that everyone was simultaneously rested and completely unrested for women’s ACCs. Who knows what to make of it all? UVA held on to seeded points pretty well last year, and they have the second-most individual qualifiers of any program in the nation. That’s a nice setup for a big NCAAs. -JA

#10: Texas A&M Aggies (Previous Rank: #9)

Sydney Pickrem could have room to move up in the 400 IM after not swimming that event at SECs. Can the relays improve from 44 projected points in the Swimulator? -JA

#9: USC Trojans (Previous Rank: #8)

Louise Hansson is entered in the 200 IM, but she may swim five relays again, like she did last year. That’s going to take away from USC’s seeded points, though. The Trojans need some of their swimmers just outside the top 16 to move up and score – a tall order for a team that slid 58 points from seed at NCAAs last year. -JA

As far as mid-season additions are going, New Zealand’s Laticia Leigh-Transom and Australia’s Jemma Schlicht have been great relay pieces for the Trojans. With Courtney Caldwell not fully competing this season, having those sprint free options sturdies the USC relays. -KO

#8: Indiana Hoosiers (Previous Rank: #7)

Diving should come up big for IU, which got 35 dive points from underclassmen last year. Just how fast is Lilly King going to go on both medleys with a whole national field to run down? -JA

#7: NC State Wolfpack (Previous Rank: #10)

The Wolfpack impressed all-around at ACCs, and psych sheets have them in 5th for seeded points by a wide margin. Another team hoping to put 2018 misfortune behind them. -JA

Things are going very well for State. Kylee Alons has shown she’s far more than just a drop dead 50 freestyler, and the freshman class as a whole has been on point all year. Olivia Calegan is having a long-overdue breakthrough, too. -KO

#6: Louisville Cardinals (Previous Rank: #6)

After last year, Louisville had a bunch of returners on the cusp of NCAA scoring. As of now, the Swimulator only projects Mallory Comerford, Grace Oglesby and Alena Kraus to score individually. If that second wave is going to take a step forward, it has to come at NCAAs. The good news: relay scoring looks great for the Card. -JA

#5: Tennessee Volunteeers (Previous Rank: #5)

Erika Brown didn’t disappoint at SECs. Time for Tennessee to prove that last year’s -27 slide from seeded points was a product of a few fluke mistakes (false start, swimming the wrong stroke on a relay) and not a pattern. -JA

#4: Texas Longhorns (Previous Rank: #4)

Texas will climb from seed. History shows Michigan will probably fall from seed. This one puts all of the pressure on the Texas divers – if Meghan O’Brien can have a big performance as a senior to join Samantha Bromberg in the A-finals, then the Longhorns are probably 3rd. -BK

We know what Texas’s upperclassmen can do. Their relays will go as far as freshmen Julia Cook and Grace Ariola will take them, which will be pretty far if they can light it up. -KO

Psych sheet scoring isn’t favorable, but Texas really had no reason to get up and go at Big 12s. The relays are going to score massive points. -JA

#3: Michigan Wolverines (Previous Rank: #2)

Michigan fell behind Cal in our ranks this time around, but there didn’t seem to be a ton of urgency for the Wolverines at Big Tens. The focus is clearly nationals, and trying to remedy the nearly-30-points they lost from seeds at NCAAs last year. If Maggie MacNeil can become the first woman under 50 in both fly and back, the relays are going to surge in a big way. -JA

#2: California Golden Bears (Previous Rank: #3)

The NCAA record at Pac-12s was the start of something great this postseason. We wondered where Amy Bilquist was – turns out she’s ready to go. Isabel Ivey is going to have a big impact, and Cal may just be the top threat to Stanford this year. -JA

Isabel Ivey is exactly what Cal needed to solidify themselves ahead of tough Michigan and Texas teams, and Abbey Weitzeil’s sprint speed is being very well-complemented by the likes of Amy Bilquist and Katie McLaughlin. -KO

#1: Stanford Cardinal (Previous Rank: #1)

The Cardinal were able to swim off events at Pac-12s and still win handily. Psych sheet scoring makes things look close, but Stanford should move up from seed and the relays have room to improve. -JA

Stanford still has more to drop — they continue to impress right when it looks like they might not be the heavy favorites. Worth noting that among their unsung heroes has been Lauren Pitzer, who is incredibly range-y and has elevated her game this season. -KO


Full Ranking Ballots

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

In This Story

Leave a Reply

Notify of

oldest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
3 years ago

The Auburn women will show up big at the NCAA’s.

2 Cents
3 years ago

Virginia will not finish outside of the top 10 at NCAAs.

3 years ago

How can Ohio State not be in the top twenty when they finished third in the Big Ten way ahead of Wisconsin and Minnesota? Wisconsin has arguably the best swimmer in the Big Ten in Beata Nelson but Wisconsin has only three girls that qualified for the NCAA championships. Minnesota has five qualifiers while OSU has seven. Also Minnesota didn’t even qualify all the relays. Wisconsin and OSU qualified all five relays. Using those simple facts I do not see how OSU is outside the top twenty.

Medley Fan
Reply to  Mike
3 years ago

Arguably the best swimmer in the Big Ten? Nelson is an awesome swimmer, but I think there’s a breaststroker in Bloomington who’d like to have a word with you.

Rachel Wander
Reply to  Medley Fan
3 years ago

Its actually an interesting discussion because Lilly King is insane, but still only can really swim two events and sometimes the 200 IM while Nelson kills all three of her events as well as most sprint free and fly events. It’s the two insane untouchable american records vs insanely fast times across the board. (Sadly for nelson, her american record, although not her ncaa record, was just broken.) As far as the ncaa goes, Nelson will score more points, and quite likely win the same amount of events (assuming she doesn’t lose to ruck in the 2 back). In the end, I would probably go with King as well, but there is a strong argument to be made for Nelson… Read more »

2 Cents
Reply to  Rachel Wander
3 years ago

How many NCAA records does Nelson have? How many does King have? (Mic drop)

2 Cents
Reply to  2 Cents
3 years ago

I was wrong although, King is the best breast stroke swimmer in the country now, and Nelson is not quite the best backstroker… Nelson did have the better meet and is the better overall swimmer.

Reply to  Mike
3 years ago

I encourage you to look through the psych sheet. OSU doesn’t have anyone seeded in the top 16 other than 1 athlete – Molly Kowal. Conference meets are about depth, NCAAs are about top talent. Only 3 of their relays have the A cut, and only 2 of those are in scoring range (B final).

Reply to  Mike
3 years ago

1) Minnesota is going to score a lot more diving points than Ohio State. At NCAAs, Minnesota’s diving points will weigh in hugely.
2) Ohio State had a great Big Ten meet, but they did it with depth. It’s similar to Indiana vs. Michigan – Indiana won the team scoring big at Big Tens, but will probably not beat Michigan at NCAAs.
3) The Ohio State women historically underperform their seeds at NCAAs. Last year, they were seeded for 124 swimming points, and only scored 107, for example. If that trend continues, Ohio State probably actually places below Northwestern too (thanks to Rosendahl’s diving).

I know what you’re thinking, “SwimSwam has always had an Ohio State bias.” Last… Read more »

Reply to  Braden Keith
3 years ago

I was not aware of the thinking that SwimSwam had a bias. I was just stating that I thought that OSU had better depth than either Minnesota or Wisconsin and was overall a stronger team.

3 years ago

Y’all really underestimating the SHE-GIRLY-VOLS! They WILL finish top 4.

Lady Vol Mom
Reply to  googoodoll
3 years ago

She Girly Vols is insulting.

3 years ago

Vol relays should write on their palms what order and what stroke they are swimming.

Just to be safe…

Reply to  Hola
3 years ago

Not nice…some people are just mean making fun of our Girl-Vol. EVERYONE can get confused in the pressure of a big event!!!

3 years ago

Y’all are really underestimating Auburn women. I think they’ll be top 10.

Reply to  Hswimmer
3 years ago

ncaa is different ball game for a green team, hold on your horses, guys.

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 …

Read More »