2018 Men’s NCAAs: How Did Our Top 20 Recruits Perform As Freshmen?


We’ve taken a pretty deep dive back into years-old recruiting ranks over the past two days, and we have one more piece of that puzzle to reanalyze. Luckily, the ranking we’ll revisit today is much more recent: how did our top 20 recruits in the class of 2017 perform as freshmen?

Further reading:

Naturally, this analysis has a far smaller sample size than our reports from the past two days, so it’s much more difficult to read too much into these numbers. Still, it’s useful to look at which first-year NCAA swimmers had the best performances relative to their recruiting ranks.

The ranks are from our top 20 story from July of 2016. Bear that in mind – a lot of these ranks would have changed if we had ranked them in July of 2017, after their senior years. Our recruiting ranks also only include domestic athletes, as international students are often hard to group into a specific recruiting class, and are generally shrouded in mystery as to when they’ll join an NCAA team, if they do at all.

Rank Name College Team 2018 NCAA Points
1 Ryan Hoffer Cal 26.5
2 Sean Grieshop Cal 10
3 Matthew Hirschberger Stanford no invite
4 Camden Murphy Georgia 0
5 Michael Taylor Florida 0
6 Austin Katz Texas 35
7 Grant House Arizona State 3
8 Jake Sannem USC no invite
9 Paul DeLakis Ohio State 6
10 Christopher Yeager Texas 0
11 Bryce Mefford Cal 26
12 Sam Pomajevich Texas 24
13 Brennan Pastorek Stanford 4
14 Alex Liang Stanford 0
15 Trenton Julian Cal 12
16 Daniel Carr Cal 13
17 Michael Zarian Harvard no invite
18 Nicolas Albiero Louisville 22
19 Spencer Rowe Auburn no invite
20 Corban Rawls Harvard no invite
  • Austin Katz was the first of this group to win a national title (though two internationals did as relay members), taking advantage of a wide-open 200 back field. Those 20 points surge him to the top of the list for early scoring returns. This class made a tough choice between Katz and Michael Taylor who came into recruiting season with almost identical backstroke times. Taylor had a better senior year of high school (dropping from 47.1 to 45.5 in the 100), but Katz clearly had the better freshman year in the NCAA. That’s somewhat to be expected, given freshman seem to be more plug-and-play in Texas’s system, while Florida’s program usually has a pretty steep adjustment period.
  • Louisville’s Nicolas Albiero is proving to be a great value, scoring among the best in the class from the 18th rank. Behind Katz was a logjam of 20-point scorers, including Ryan Hoffer, Bryce Mefford, Sam Pomajevich and Albiero, along with unranked Zach Yeadon of Notre Dame.
  • Ryan Hoffer wasn’t going to win any NCAA titles swimming in Caeleb Dressel‘s event, but he quietly had a very solid meet, even if he didn’t improve his sprint free times.
  • While Cal took one on the chin in our look at Class of 2014 recruits earlier this week, their class of 2017 freshmen were outstanding. All 5 of their ranked recruits not only made NCAAs but scored in double digits. That includes Hoffer (26.5), Sean Grieshop (10), Bryce Mefford (26), Trenton Julian (12) and Daniel Carr (13).
  • Only five of these guys missed NCAA invites individually. Stanford’s Matthew Hirschberger was the big one, not dropping from the times that got him a #3 rank – but that was just following the trend of his senior year, where he also failed to drop time. And he improved from 2017 to 2018 and was within a second of an NCAA invite in the 500.
  • USC’s Jake Sannem went to NCAAs as a relay-only swimmer and scored points on the 800 free relay for the Trojans. He had moderate drops in his 100 and 200 frees as a freshman and ultimately split 1:34.6 at NCAAs.
  • Neither Harvard recruit got an individual invite – Corban Rawls or Michael Zarian. Rawls had a bad senior year, but went lifetime-bests in the 50 and 200 free as a freshman. Zarian dropped time in his 400 IM, but making NCAAs in those events is pretty brutal.
  • Spencer Rowe had two good drops in his breaststrokes for Auburn at SECs, and was brought to NCAAs as a relay-only swimmer, though he didn’t compete.

And of course, we’ll include everyone’s favorite part: which unranked recruits scored NCAA points as freshmen.


Name College Team Total NCAA Points
Zach Yeadon Notre Dame 27
Robby Giller Virginia 2
  • Check out the time progression on Yeadon, who scored more NCAA points than all but one ranked recruit:
    • July 2016 (when we ranked recruits): 15:09/4:23/1:40
    • July 2017 (end of his senior year): 14:49/4:19/1:37
    • Current (after freshman season): 14:34/4:12/1:36


Name College Team Total NCAA Points
Ricardo Vargas Michigan 23
Brandonn Almeida South Carolina 15
Robert Glinta USC 14
Evgenii Somov Louisville 12
Hugo Gonzalez Auburn 7
Bruno Blaskovic Indiana 1


Name College Team Total NCAA Points
Jordan Windle Texas 45
Andrew Capobianco Indiana 33
Zach Cooper Miami (FL) 12
Gregory Duncan UNC 6
Kurtis Matthews Texas A&M 5

These don’t include relay contributions.

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5 years ago

“Taylor had a better senior year of high school but Katz clearly had the better freshman year in the NCAA. That’s somewhat to be expected, given freshman seem to be more plug-and-play in Texas’s system, while Florida’s program usually has a pretty steep adjustment period.” Any insights into why this is the case? Is it due to Troy’s infamous high-yardage program? Though according to Texas’s dual meets results (and the swimswam comments on them) Eddie works his swimmers incredibly hard as well. Does the steep-adjustment at Florida related to the enormous combined team and possibly less personalized training, support, etc?

5 years ago

Cal and Texas seemed to do well overall.
Stanford and Harvard, not so much.

Go Irish
5 years ago

It is awesome to see the “unranked” guys deliver at NCAA’s!

Reply to  Go Irish
5 years ago

Yep. Though he’s not a freshman, Towson’s Jack Saunderson is an awesome story of hard work, good coaching and late-blooming talent.

5 years ago

#3’s best times are from sophomore year of high school. That seems ominous.

Rankings really should weight recency of times. On the other college website, which is a fantastic resource, there are highly ranked kids this year that don’t even swim the events that got them ranked in the first place (particularly distance). It even happens on the super-elite level, like Jack Conger and backstroke (I realize its not a perfect example because it happened in college).

5 years ago

God I just love the criticism of Hoffer “not” improving. He went 44 in his fly a best time and when your best 100 free is 41.23 that’s hard to replicate as is an 18.7 50. But hey he still went a better time at NCAA’s as a freshmen in the 100 than Dressel

Reply to  Jmanswimfan
5 years ago

He did drop time in the 100 Fly but went .28 slower in the 50 Free and 1 full second slower in the 100 Free. Everyone understands it’s hard to improve if you’re a 18/41 freestyler out of HS but the facts are he went slower in the free events.

Reply to  Jmanswimfan
5 years ago

Not a good comparison. Dressel won the 50 as a freshman. No matter how you look at it no matter how fast you were to begin with not improving is definitely not a good thing. Especially when you’re not even really anywhere near your best time.

5 years ago

Zarian of Harvard missed his taper meet this year due to appendicitis – hence no time drops. That means his improvement in the 400 IM was in season

JP input too short
Reply to  iLikePsych
5 years ago

I was wondering why he wasn’t on the Ivies team after swimming well at HYP.

5 years ago

Indiana and Louisville probably the top talent developers in the market. Making good swimmers become outstanding. Incredible job.

Reply to  thefacts
5 years ago

Add Texas to that list

Reply to  thefacts
5 years ago

In defense of Texas and Cal, as great as it is to always get the top recruits, it’s also very difficult to get those top end recruits to improve. Dressel, Nolan, Schooling, Murphy, Conger, and Hoffer all had NCAA final times as HS recruits. All got much better in college (jury is still out on Hoffer), but when you’re already extremely fast in HS, there’s only so much more time for you to drop. Other than Dressel of course.

JP input too short
Reply to  ArtVanDeLegh10
5 years ago

And remember, Nolan didn’t have that great of a freshman year given the times he came in with. Texas didn’t figure out that Conger was a butterflyer his freshman year. Dressel missed the 100 free A finals. Sometimes it just takes a bit for swimmers to adjust to new coaches and vice versa.

2 Cents
Reply to  ArtVanDeLegh10
5 years ago

Did Schooling get better? I looked at his point totals from Freshman year through Sr year and they went down each year. All the way down to 19 for this year… maybe he improved that first year, but after that I would say he did not (one LCM swim at the olympics aside… which was 2 years ago and he hasnt touched that time since).

Reply to  2 Cents
5 years ago

Schooling was 45.5 Fly in HS and was 43.7 in college. In the 200fly I think he was 1:45 in HS (although he might not have had a rested/shaved time) and was 1:37 in college. 50/100 frees in HS I’d guess 20/44, and was 18.7 and probably 41 high if he did it individually. He improved a lot just not his last year and his 200 Fly his last two years.

Ol' Longhorn
Reply to  thefacts
5 years ago

NC State has to be in there.

Reply to  Ol' Longhorn
5 years ago

Yeah like at 1 if we’re talking about only swimming.

5 years ago

Look forward to how this very good class does in the coming yrs. Scoring wise it seems to separate between TX and Cal, so how will they do as they move forward?

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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