2018-2019 Women’s NCAA Power Rankings: First 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.

The Division I NCAA swim season is underway, and that can only mean one thing: the return of SwimSwam’s Power Rankings!

We started this process with preseason ranks we published early in our College Preview magazine, then used to count down our College Swimming Previews series on the web. These rankings are a bit different, in that they average out the ranking ballots of five of our top college swimming reporters periodically throughout the NCAA season.

Stanford has won two straight NCAA team titles, and despite the losses of some huge names to graduation and/or the professional realm, they remain our consensus #1. Check out our full ranks below:

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: Florida)

#20: Northwestern Wildcats (2018 NCAA Finish: 22nd)

New staff is bringing great energy that wasn’t there before. The freshman class is sneakily good, and Valerie Gruest being back on the roster gives them a probable mile scorer to go along with big points from diver Olivia Rosendahl. -KO

#19: Missouri Tigers (2018 NCAA Finish: 15th)

Mizzou only graduates the freestyler from both scoring medleys. They’ve also got Annie Ochitwaone of the best versatile sprint relay pieces in the NCAA. -JA

#18: Arizona Wildcats (2018 NCAA Finish: 20th)

No individual scorers graduated, and Arizona had a great showing as a team at Summer Nationals. Factoring out seniors increases their returning points haul pretty significantly. And the relays mostly finished just on the wrong side of the scoring line last year – it won’t take much improvement to drastically change the Wildcats’ relay scoring output. -JA

#17: Wisconsin Badgers (2018 NCAA Finish: 17th)

We don’t have any idea what new coach Yuri Suguiyama‘s first year in Wisconsin will look like. But Beata Nelson is a pretty safe bet to put up big individual points and carry a couple relays. -JA

#16: Ohio State Buckeyes (2018 NCAA Finish: 13th)

You can’t overstate the loss of sprint star Liz Li. But Freya Rayner is about as good a replacement as you can hope for, going 22.0/48.4 as a freshman. -JA

#15: Auburn Tigers (2018 NCAA Finish: 16th)

Yeah, the cupboard is bare on the men’s side, but don’t sleep on Auburn’s women, who return six potential scorers (when factoring out seniors). Aly Tetzloff could be one of the best (and least talked about) sprinters in the country. And Julie Meynen was so much better on relays (47.7 split) than she was individually (48.7, 27th place) that it’s fair to suggest she could well outperform her sophomore individual score. -JA

#14: NC State Wolfpack (2018 NCAA Finish: 18th)

Injuries clearly wracked this team a year ago. But a healthy Ky-Lee Perry plus top-tier recruit Emma Muzzy, transfer Kay Sargent and Swedish breaststroker Sophie Hansson could mean a ferocious comeback for the hungry Wolfpack. -JA

#13: Kentucky Wildcats (2018 NCAA Finish: 14th)

When you rescore 2018 NCAAs without seniors, Kentucky returns the 10th-most points in the nation. That’s not a perfect predictor, but does show Kentucky’s returning strength. Asia Seidt keeps getting better and better. -JA

#12: Georgia Bulldogs (2018 NCAA Finish: 11th)

It’s tough to rank this group, which is powered by a highly-talented but unproven (at the NCAA level at least) freshman class. Is former #1 overall recruit Eva Merrell healthy? Just how many star freshman flyers will this program have? There’s a high ceiling, but a lot to prove for this group early on. -JA

#11: USC Trojans (2018 NCAA Finish: 12th)

We’re not going to know exactly what USC has until January, with top prospect Erica Sullivan sitting out the fall semester and a few other key pickups transitioning to short course yards. Transfer Courtney Caldwell could be a massive get, if she’s recovered after an injury-riddled season with NC State. -JA

#10: Minnesota Golden Gophers (2018 NCAA Finish: 10th)

One of the best diving groups in the nation, complemented by a great breaststroker in Lindsey Kozelsky and the support pieces to put together some outstanding medley relays. They’ll need a big year from the free relays (and to find a new butterflier), but there are big points to be had from this roster. -JA

#9:  Virginia Cavaliers (2018 NCAA Finish: 9th)

Sure, the Wahoos graduated a lot of points and key relay legs from Caitlin Cooper and Jen Marrkand. But at what point do we start trusting coach Todd Desorbo more than the questions his team faces? UVA overperformed expectations by a country mile last season, and another top 10 finish in 2019 would only add to the growing buzz in Charlottesville. My head says I ranked Virginia where the numbers say they should be (12th). My gut says that’s too low, and I might be changing tunes in a hurry by our next rankings. -JA

#8: Tennessee Volunteers (2018 NCAA Finish: 7th)

If the medley relays hadn’t been a whirlwind of errors, Tennessee might’ve been 5th in 2018. Then again, they graduated their breaststroker, so its hard to project those medleys scoring what they hypothetically could have in 2018. Still, a year of experience in the spotlight is going to help this upstart roster. -JA

#7: Indiana Hoosiers (2018 NCAA Finish: 8th)

Lilly King is still the heart and soul of this team, and who can’t get behind that much confidence and swagger? Doesn’t hurt that she outsplits the entire nation by multi-second margins on the breaststroke leg of both medleys, either. Bailey Andison is an impact transfer. And the young additions to the sprint group (22.1/49.5 Ileah Doctor and 22.5/49.7 Julia Wolf) should pay dividends on relays. -JA

#6: Texas A&M Aggies (2018 NCAA Finish: 3rd)

A&M graduated a lot, but they’ve already proven they’re a reliable program that creates NCAA scorers and doesn’t rely too heavily on a few top swimmers. They get the benefit of the doubt despite not returning a ton of points. -JA

#5: Louisville Cardinals (2018 NCAA Finish: 5th)

Louisville was scheduled to return all 20 relay legs, before rising junior Rachel Bradford-Feldman was missing from the 2018-2019 roster. Mallory Comerford is one of 3 serious candidates for NCAA Swimmer of the Year (Ella Eastin, Taylor Ruck) -BK

#4: Texas Longhorns (2018 NCAA Finish: 6th)

The Longhorns have steadily built up a deep roster and their sprint-heavy freshman class is a boost individually and for relays. -KO

A small recruiting class, but one that could have incredible relay impact with the best 50 freestyler (Grace Ariola22.17) and best 100 freestyler (Julia Cook47.82) in the entire recruiting class. -JA

#3: Michigan Wolverines (2018 NCAA Finish: 4th)

Our consensus #3 team, Michigan returns a very strong core and supplements with an internationally-accomplished freshman class. The Wolverines are well-rounded enough to have five great relays despite graduating key pieces. And Siobhan Haughey is next-level good. -JA

#2: California Golden Bears (2018 NCAA Finish: 2nd)

After Stanford’s Simone Manuel and Katie Ledecky turned pro early, Cal had an avenue to a 2019 team title. Kathleen Baker doing the same later in the summer made that road much tougher. -BK

Prospects look a lot different with Baker out of the mix, but Cal still has plenty of talent. Abbey Weitzeil could be the best sprinter and relay hero in the NCAA. Katie McLaughlin has been getting better and better since her 2016 neck injury. -JA

#1: Stanford Cardinal (2018 NCAA Finish: 1st)

That graduating class (Manuel, Ledecky, Hu, Howe, Engel, Cook) should be downright roster-crushing. But for Stanford, it just means the best recruiting classes of the last several years have more opportunities to shine. 48.2/1:44.7/4:36.6 sophomore Lauren Pitzer has barely gotten any NCAA relay swims. 3:59 IMer/4:37 freestyler Brooke Forde was basically an afterthought on this roster as a freshman. Last year, Stanford was leaving 48-lows off their 400 free relay, 22-lows off their 200 free relay and a 1:40 off their 800 free relay while still winning all three. This is the best roster in swimming right now, and while there are a lot more question marks than a year ago, it’s impossible to pick anywhere else at the moment. -JA

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 Louisville Texas Texas Texas
5 Texas A&M Texas Texas A&M Louisville Louisville
6 Louisville Texas A&M Louisville Texas A&M Texas A&M
7 Indiana Indiana Indiana Indiana Tennessee
8 Tennessee Virginia Virginia Tennessee Indiana
9 Minnesota Tennessee Tennessee Minnesota Virginia
10 USC Minnesota Minnesota Virginia Minnesota
11 Georgia Georgia USC USC Georgia
12 Virginia Kentucky Georgia Georgia USC
13 NC State USC Kentucky Kentucky Kentucky
14 Kentucky Auburn Auburn NC State Auburn
15 Wisconsin NC State Ohio State Auburn NC State
16 Ohio State Ohio State NC State Ohio State Arizona
17 Auburn Wisconsin Wisconsin Wisconsin Ohio State
18 Arizona Northwestern Arizona Arizona Wisconsin
19 Missouri Arizona Northwestern Missouri Missouri
20 Florida Missouri Missouri Florida Florida

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4 years ago

I think they standing are sleeping on Georgia. I understand that it is relying on ALOT of new talent, but I couldn’t see themn outside top ten with all the top recruits and transfers. Eva is the biggest question but even discounting her you have the Dakota Luther,Oliva Carter, Madison H, Callie Dickson and the breastroke transfer. I mean I think they won’t loose any relays points if anything gain points in medleys and maybe the freestyle ones two. 1:44or 1:45 is Eva, Dakota and Olivia in the 200 free. Plus they have a few returns that can step up. Veronica burchill/Caityln C, whohas dropped massive time from highschool, really been stepping up and in addition to Courtney Harnish and… Read more »

4 years ago

Anyone know what happened with rachel Bradford-Feldman

4 years ago

Love these lists and would also love to see a ranking of college coaches/coaching staffs. Would be fun to see the experts’ picks!

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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