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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3 years ago


3 years ago

Incredible showing overall by freshman swimming and diving… bodes well for coming championships!!

2 Cents
Reply to  Gator
3 years ago

Really? I kind of thought it was lackluster. There were definitely some bright spots, but overall I feel like this might have been down from years past. Maybe it is was better, but just lacked the big star power like it has in the past, or maybe that the star power from the upper class guys, Dressel, Finnerty, etc. just overshadowed the freshman.

Silent observer
Reply to  2 Cents
3 years ago

I’ll chalk it up to upper class star power

3 years ago

I love this analysis

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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