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

NCAA mid-season invites begin next weekend, and that means it’s time for the next installment of our NCAA Power Rankings.

The order remains very stable at the top, though it’s probably fair to say things have gotten a lot tighter between 3rd and 5th. Expect the picture to get a lot clearer as teams start to rest for invites over the next month, including our consensus #1 team, Stanford.

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: Northwestern, Arizona, Missouri)

#20: Florida State Seminoles (Previous Rank: N/A)

Ida Hulkko looks like an A final threat in the 100 breast. -KO

The freshman breaststrokers are adapting to short course much earlier than anticipated. Keep an eye on Ida Hulkko (59.0/2:13.8) and Nina Kucheran (1:00.7/2:12.7). -JA

#19: Notre Dame Fighting Irish (Previous Rank: N/A)

Upsets don’t mean nearly as much in swimming as they do in other college sports, but it’s hard to overlook wins against Kentucky and Missouri, plus a tie with Indiana. Abbie Dolan has been clutch, but her times are actually a bit slower than they were at this time last year. Does that bode well for bigger taper drops? We’ll find out. -JA

#18: Florida Gators (Previous Rank: N/A)

It’s a new era for Florida: the team doesn’t look beat to a pulp training-wise. This IM group is going to be really good, especially freshman Vanessa Pearl-JA

#17: Wisconsin Badgers (Previous Rank: #17)

Beata Nelson is a bona fide star and proving she can carry relays. See: splits of 23.4 (fly) and 48.9 (free) in comeback relay wins vs. Minnesota, creating a 28-point swing in a 14-point Wisconsin victory. -JA

#16: Ohio State Buckeyes (Previous Rank: #16)

Kathrin Demler is having a nice year so far. The relays have struggled without Liz Li, but diving is a big boost to the Buckeyes. -JA

#15: Auburn Tigers (Previous Rank: #15)

Their win over UVA was a huge step in the right direction. Auburn finally looks ready for some sizable progressions as a program. -KO

Claire Fisch is swimming out of her mind, and the four shorter relays all rank inside the top 6 nationally. It’s been a much, much better start than we imagined for new coach Gary Taylor. -JA

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

Freshman Riley Gaines is already rattling lifetime-bests, and could be a big relay contributor in March. Watch Asia Seidtwho has been quiet so far but usually goes off at a mid-season invite. -JA

#13: Georgia Bulldogs (Previous Rank: #12)

No Eva Merrell? The school won’t confirm, but if she’s not swimming this season, that’s another blow in a rebuilding year for the Bulldogs. -BK

There are holes in this lineup, and while swimmers like Courtney Harnish, Veronica Burchill, and freshmen Dakota Luther and Olivia Carter have been great, this roster feels incomplete. If Eva Merrell doesn’t end up competing this year, that spells trouble. -KO

#12: NC State Wolfpack (Previous Rank: #14)

Ky-lee Perry is back and better, and this already looks like a much stronger team compared to last year. Sirena Rowe should be a valuable sprint free/fly asset, while Sophie Hansson was a desperately-needed pickup in breaststroke. Special shoutout to Makayla Sargent, who is going best times, or near best times, in dual meets– the Wolfpack distance group is very solid right now. -KO

#11: Minnesota Golden Gophers (Previous Rank: #10)

The Gophers are struggling to find a flyer for their medley relays. Using Tevyn Waddell there is breaking up the stellar Waddell-Lindsey Kozelsky front half that powered the team last year. Mackenzie Padington looks fast, though, and her range down to the 100 could be a huge boost to the Gopher relays. -JA

#10: USC Trojans (Previous Rank: #11)

It’s hard to make solid projections on a team that, while it has a history of swimming incredibly fast in-season without backing it up at NCAAs, is tearing up the NCAA at the moment. Louise Hansson should keep all the relays in elite company almost by herself. Getting Erica Sullivan and Courtney Caldwell into the mix is vital for a team whose ceiling is a lot higher than their current rank. -JA

Hansson & co. have swum well in their dual meets after a couple suited up invite style race days. The freshman group has been quiet, but don’t forget that NCAA mile title contender Erica Sullivan will join up at mid-season. Where’s Courtney Caldwell, though? Her absence is keeping them from looking like a top 10 team. -KO

#9: Tennessee Volunteers (Previous Rank: #8)

Tennessee – and Erika Brown in particular – didn’t have their really big explosion until mid-season invites last year. The Vols get the benefit of the doubt until they have a chance to repeat the trend this month. -JA

#8: Virginia Cavaliers (Previous Rank: #9)

After swimming a bit flat in a big loss to Auburn, UVA responded with a strong win over Louisville. Morgan Hill was lights out, and this is a really deep team in freestyle (500 and down) and backstroke. Kaki Christensen is picking up steam at the helm of the breast group, too. -KO

This team is just thick with relay swimmers. Did you know UVA ranks top-4 nationally in four of the five relays this season? -JA

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

A big preseason selling point for the Hoosiers were their exciting freshmen sprinters, but that group hasn’t shown much so far. Julia Wolf (22.5/49.7 out of high school) hasn’t even raced yet. The free relays hinge on the freshmen coming around soon. -JA

#6: Texas A&M Aggies (Previous Rank: #6)

It’s not panic time yet for Aggie fans. Sydney Pickrem is still swimming great and this team always finds a way to get it done in February and March. But this is not the same team that fought for second place at NCAAs eight months ago. -JA

#5: Louisville Cardinals (Previous Rank: #5)

Sure, some suited swims at the SMU Classic can throw off perspective a little bit, but even taking that meet out of the picture, Louisville has looked great up and down the line. Freshman Diana Dunn is already looking like a better pickup than we gave her credit for. -JA

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

Their sprint group is absolutely dominant right now. This is a program finally standing tall, and they know their strength. I buy it. -KO

Sprint group looks incredible. The two freshmen (Julia Cook & Grace Ariola) have been the story so far, but Remedy Rule – 53.1/1:56 in fly – is the bigges reason Texas is scoring 3rd in the nation in the Swimulator projections. -JA

Wasn’t sure whether to flip Louisville and Texas. Louisville had the SMU Classic meet, which always draws really fast swims, to boost their times, so I’ll give Texas the benefit of the doubt for now. both teams have swum very well. -BK

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

Maggie Macneil has really been a revelation and fantastic addition to this team, which was already very strong before her arrival. -KO

I’ve got the Wolverines narrowly above Texas for now because Michigan is a bit more well-rounded. Maggie MacNeil is turning out to be even better than we expected -JA

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

If Amy Bilquist comes back before champ season and shows she’s on form, Cal is definitely a #2 team. If not, things get dicier, but don’t underestimate backstrokers like Keaton Blovad or Aislinn Light who can help out on medley relays. -KO

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

We have not seen anything impressive from this team outside of Ella Eastin and freshman Amalie Fackenthal (who popped a 53.4 100 fly in a dual). There’s no questioning the Cardinal’s ability to go berserk by the end of the year, so it’s more their reputation and on-paper taper power that is keeping them at #1, not their performances thus far in the year. -KO

Nothing groundbreaking out of Stanford yet, but certainly nothing that says they should drop out of the #1 rank -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 Texas Michigan Texas
4 Texas Texas Michigan Texas Louisville
5 Louisville Louisville Louisville Louisville Michigan
6 Texas A&M Indiana Texas A&M Texas A&M Texas A&M
7 Indiana Texas A&M Indiana Indiana Indiana
8 Tennessee Virginia Virginia Virginia Virginia
9 Virginia Tennessee Tennessee Tennessee Tennessee
10 USC Minnesota NC State Minnesota NC State
11 Minnesota USC USC USC USC
12 NC State NC State Minnesota NC State Georgia
13 Georgia Kentucky Auburn Georgia Minnesota
14 Kentucky Georgia Kentucky Kentucky Auburn
15 Auburn Auburn Georgia Auburn Kentucky
16 Wisconsin Ohio State Wisconsin Wisconsin Wisconsin
17 Ohio State Notre Dame Ohio State Ohio State Ohio State
18 Florida Northwestern Florida State Florida Florida
19 Florida State Arizona Northwestern Arizona Notre Dame
20 Notre Dame Florida State Missouri Missouri Arizona

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4 years ago

Paige madden doesn’t get a mention for UVA?..

samuel huntington
Reply to  Hswimmer
4 years ago

and Ruck no mention for Stanford and McLaughlin no mention for Cal, and Haughey no mention for Michigan…the point is you can’t mention everybody…

Reply to  samuel huntington
4 years ago

You can mention the ones who get high points consistently every meet…

Benedict Arnold Schwarzenegger
Reply to  Hswimmer
4 years ago

SwimSwam should just copy/paste the entire roster of every team. To be on the safe side

4 years ago

UF has beaten Georgia AND Indiana and are ranked at least 5 spots behind both of those teams??

Reply to  Aquajosh
4 years ago

Left out Mabel Zavaros in the writeup too 🙁 another key impact swimmer

Rachel Wander
Reply to  Aquajosh
4 years ago

Duel Meet strength is not equal to championship strength. Florida is deep, but young and untried and might not have many finalists at NCs

Benedict Arnold Schwarzenegger
Reply to  Aquajosh
4 years ago

Congrats! You’re the first person ever to mistakenly whine about dual meet results in a ranking that very clearly establishes that dual meet wins mean very little!

2 Cents
Reply to  Benedict Arnold Schwarzenegger
4 years ago

Yeah!! UVA CRUSHED LVille, and they are 3 spots behind. And when I say crushed, I mean I dont think Lville could have scored less as they were 1-2-3’d in almost every event (or at least most events)…. BUT we saw what Lville can do in a more championship type format at SMU, and suited… they did beat UVA… not crushed, but just beat… so that lands them 3 spots higher on the list.

All joking (in the form of facts) aside. Lville does have the better championship meet team. Not conference team, but NCAA team for now. We will see what happens though.

4 years ago

Amalie makes A-final if not top 3. Heard it here first

4 years ago

Stanford vs Texas dual meet should provide a better indication about Stanford’s ability to go for 3Xr at NCAA
Should be a good dual meet.

Reply to  Dave
4 years ago

Yeah it’s hard for me to even put Texas at 4 they have been so lights out. The Call Vs Stanford Vs Texas will be a good one. I am rooting for Texas for this one. Carol has really taken that team to the next level

Reply to  Troy
4 years ago

We have heard “Texas women are swimming lights out” during dual meets every year! Waiting for a top 3 ncaa finish. Texas men suck during dual meets and then win it all! Just different approaches at same school!

Reply to  Superfan
4 years ago

Yes! It’s important to recognize that various coaches approach dual meets differently! Instead of comparing them to each other in the early season, we need to compare each team’s own year over year results. It’s not coincidental that the same swimmers headlining in early fall this year are the same ones we read about last fall – Remedy Rule, Abbie Dolan, etc – and they did not even final last year at NCAAs. There’s consistency in each team’s training style/strategy, as many teams do not pull back AT ALL for dual meets, regardless of the opponent – Texas men, Cal women, Texas A&M women, Stanford women are a few obvious ones.

Reply to  Dave
4 years ago

fun to watch but it will NOT be an indicator about Stanford’s ability to put together another national championship

4 years ago

Why is no one talking about Morgan Scott for the Hoosiers when it comes to sprint free? She was 22.9/49.3 in the 50/100 free in HS. Get her on a relay…

Reply to  SwimNerd
4 years ago

Those times are decent for high school but not noteworthy at the level being discussed. A bit frank on my end perhaps, but you asked, even if rhetorically. What’s exciting at this point of the year is not what their current times are, but what their potential times are.

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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