2019-2020 NCAA Men’s Swimming & Diving Power Rankings: December 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.

Previous Ranks:

Check out our Swimulator for some early NCAA scoring projections based on current national ranks.

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: Georgia Tech, Minnesota, Denver)

Change from previous ranks shown in parentheses

#20: Notre Dame Fighting Irish (-)

Notre Dame didn’t have their best meet at last year’s NCAAs, but that shouldn’t discourage anyone from considering them a top 20 team. They’re not the most well-rounded team, but they do have considerable depth in some events. Notre Dame is one of only 4 teams that have 3 swimmers 4:18.0 or faster in the 500 this season. They have enough going for them in freestyle to make free relays capable of scoring, though the medleys will need some work. -SP

Zach Yeadon has had a great fall after kind of a rough spring, and while the Fighting Irish are probably going to need some relays to score to actually finish in the top 20, they’ve got a talented freshman class that should help in that regard come championship season. -RG

#19: USC Trojans (-1)

Alexei Sancov looks much-improved from his rookie year, with three 200-yard events in NCAA scoring range. USC always has its relays ready to go, and I refuse to believe they’ll only score 12, as currently projected. -JA

#18: Florida State Seminoles (Previously Unranked)

If you’re going to only do one thing well in college swimming, sprint free thing is the thing to do, and Neal Studd and the rest of the Seminoles’ staff have proven that they know what they’re doing in that discipline. But it’s also worth noting that senior backstroker Griffin Alaniz is two seconds faster in the 100 back than he was at this point last year, and has knocked over a second off his lifetime best to put him at #7 in the country. -RG

The Seminoles look awesome so far after coming into the season with way too little fanfare. They’ve got the sprint corps (Kuba Ksiazek 19.3/43.2/1:33.8; Peter Varjasi 19.4/42.8/1:34.7; Mohamed Ghaffari 1:34.7) to put together some huge relays. -JA

#17: Tennessee Volunteers (-2)

Having taken a big hit in diving points, the Volunteers need to repeat last year’s one up/one down finish for their medley relays to finish this high (I have them 16th). Those relays are currently ranked 7th and 11th, so that’s looking promising. -RG

I can’t wait for Michael Houlie to figure out yards. Especially in the 200. -KO

#16: Alabama Crimson Tide (+1)

Alabama and Florida State are both rebuilding their sprint corps, but I think the Crimson Tide gets the slight edge right now because of Zane Waddell‘s individual scoring potential. -RG

They’ve reloaded that 200 medley relay pretty well already. A killer leadoff like Zane Waddell sure helps. They’re going to need more individual scorers to finish in the top 20, though. -JA

#15: Georgia Bulldogs (-1)

Quite frankly, I feel like I have Georgia a bit high at #15, but every other team I’ve considered putting here has issues too, and of those teams, it feels like Georgia has the best chance of getting multiple swimmers (e.g., Walker Higgins, Camden Murphy) into A-finals. -RG

Dillon Downing might be a year away from being an NCAA impact sprinter, but he has already been relatively close to career-bests. With six swimmers projected to score individually, Georgia has the depth to be top 15 if things break right. -JA

#14: Stanford Cardinal (-4)

The Cardinal feel like a huge sleeper this season. They’ve got the star talent to put up big points come March, but after key absences killed them last season, and a relatively quiet fall, it’s tough to justify putting them into the top ten until we see more than we’ve seen hitherto. -RG

I can’t give up on Stanford yet. They finally have a healthy team, and they’ll show up when the time comes. -SP

#13: Arizona State Sun Devils (+6)

All five relays are projected to score big, including the nation’s #2 400 free relay. And this without redshirting Grant House or transferred Cameron Craig. Cody Bybee is really coming into his own. -JA

Their relays impressed at the NC State Invite, with the 2nd-fastest 400 free relay in the nation and a time that was just off their prelims time from NCAAs (and faster than their finals time). A Cody Bybee bounceback looks like it’ll go a long way toward blunting the loss of Grant House. -RG

#12: Virginia Cavaliers (-3)

Last year, UVA lurked pretty quietly until ACCs and NCAAs, and then impressed. They look to be following the same trajectory this season, and they should have the firepower for another top ten finish, if they put it together at the right time. -RG

#11: Missouri Tigers (+2)

How long are we supposed to pretend Mizzou’s top-10 standing in the Swimulator is entirely the product of suits? This team is really, really good, and they seem to be swimming great under the new coaching staff. I feel like Danny Kovac has been one of the more overlooked swimmers in college swimming, but after four lifetime-bests at the Mizzou Invite (1:42 in the IM, 52.7 in breaststroke, 19.6/42.9 in free), he’s not going to be overlooked for long. -JA

While lots of Mizzou men having been swimming fast so far this season, one name that stands out is backstroker Daniel Hein. He didn’t break 46.0 until last February, but was under that mark twice at the Mizzou Invite, something that should help solidify the Tigers’ medley relays. -RG

#10: Louisville Cardinals (-2)

Don’t rank Louisville based on mid-season results. That’s been a theme of the past couple years. We know the talent is there, and swimmers like Nicolas Albiero will rise when the post-season comes. The question mark here is Andrej Barna, an absolutely essential relay piece who has’t competed yet this season. -JA

Like the Cavaliers, the Cardinals have tended to have quiet mid-season invites and then explode at ACCs. They’ve got a solid core and some interesting newcomers who could show up big come February and March. -RG

#9: Arizona Wildcats (+3)

Arizona has put together a very nicely balanced team. They have all the relay events covered, and Brooks Fail should be contributing in the distance freestyles. -SP

Arizona ranks 5th in the Swimulator, and that’s without Australian IM star David Schlicht, a 22-point scorer from last year who is taking an Olympic redshirt season. I’d say there’s a real top 10 chance after some great swims at Minnesota. -JA

Brooks Fail is a machine. -KO

Raise your hand if you knew that the Wildcats have the 2nd-fastest 200 free relay in the country this season. (Okay, 3rd-fastest if you ignore the fact that Texas DQ’d for a suit violation). That 1:16.6 was faster than their best time from last season, and their 400 free relay is only 0.2s off last season’s best time. That bodes well for a top ten finish come March. -RG

#8: Florida Gators (-2)

A lot of split LCM/SCY focus has Florida way lower in the Swimulator (25th) than they’ll end up at NCAAs. One question mark: key relay swimmer Trey Freeman hasn’t competed since September. We’re told he’s dealing with an injury, but will compete once he’s cleared. Without him, they drop out of my top 10. -JA

This is kind of a tough team to peg right now. They had some promising swims early in the season, but there weren’t any super noticeable swims at the mid-season invite. Still, Kieran Smith is one of the most versatile/rangey swimmers in the country, and he can carry this team far. -RG

#7: Ohio State Buckeyes (-)

It’s been a quiet season so far, quiet enough to make you forget how much talent Ohio State has assembled. But Cameron Craig looks solid in his return to NCAA competition, and another great year from Paul DeLakis will give this team a ton of points and great relay legs. -JA

Recently, the Buckeyes haven’t competed in top form until Big Tens, and I expect that to be the case again this season. Make no mistake, they have the ability to make the top 8 in all 5 relays. Cameron Craig has already swum well this year, and could potentially be most beneficial as a 5 relay swimmer. -SP

It’s been a quiet season for OSU thus far, but they return eight of the twelve free relay legs that netted them 61 points in 2019, and Cameron Craig should more than adequately fill in the gap for three of those legs. -RG

#6: Texas A&M Aggies (+5)

Up to #4 in the Swimulator, Texas A&M is impossible to ignore. Shaine Casas is a true star and could realistically win an event or more come March. The freestyle depth is solid and the relays will be productive, though I don’t quite expect them to hold their projected 148 relay points, which is in line with Texas (154) and Cal (164). -JA

Shaine Casas has expedited his path to being an international star. His improvements already this year are clear. This team quietly has sleeper picks for NCAA titles, like Mark Theall in the 200 or 500 free, while freshman breaststroker Andres Puente already looks like an A-final dark horse in the 200 breast. -KO

Shaine Casas could be the best swimmer in the NCAA right now. On top of that, they have scoring-speed in some free and breast events. Their relays look like they’ll be strong, and if Jace Brown can really get his sprint fly going in the next few months, those medley relays could be deadly. -SP

Deep breaststroke group, strong relays, and Shaine Casas could very easily carry the Aggies to a top ten finish. -RG

#5: Indiana Hoosiers (-1)

IU looks solid. They don’t quite have enough all-stars to overcome a smaller base of national-level scorers like they have the past few seasons. One to watch: freshman Will Gallant has already dropped 27 seconds in his mile and six in his 500 free, and projects as a rookie NCAA scorer. -JA

Despite the losses from last year’s roster, the Hoosiers’ depth remains among the best in the NCAA. It looks likely IU will be represented in every event at NCAAs, with potential scorers in every event, except maybe the 400 IM. -SP

They took a bit hit in terms of graduating seniors, but returners like Bruno Blaskovic have looked solid, freshman Brendan Burns should help blunt the relay losses, and quite frankly, there’s really no other team that’s clearly knocking on the door of a top five finish. -RG

#4: NC State Wolfpack (-1)

The Wolfpack had some mixed results at the invite they hosted. Coleman Stewart and Nyls Korstanje did about what you expected, but there weren’t any other huge drops. Still, there were plenty of indications, including freshman Hunter Tapp’s and senior Noah Hensley’s free relay splits, that this team should still impress come spring.-RG

I’m not sure NC State has really put a team-wide focus on a short course meet yet, and their relay ranks reflect that. I expect the Wolfpack to blow away their current 115 projected relay points. The most exciting swimmer right now is Nyls Korstanje, who has been very close to lifetime-bests already this year. -JA

We haven’t really seen a complete NC State team yet this season. I have no worries about their ability to get it done in relays when the time comes. -SP

#3: Michigan Wolverines (+2)

Michigan has two relays ranked 3rd nationally: the 800 free and the 200 medley. Those are about as polar opposite as you can get, and the relays are made up by 8 different swimmers. That’s emblematic of how impressive Michigan has been this year – I don’t think we’ve seen their entire roster swim this well since they won NCAAs in 2013. -JA

Michigan has been incredibly good this season. Personally, I’m blown away by just how good this breaststroke squad is: 3 guys under 1:53.5 in the 200, as well as 51.6, 51.9, and 52.5 100 breaststrokers already this season. Their breast group could be better than Indiana’s this year, and right now it looks like Michigan may score the most points of any team in the breast events. -SP

Their huge breaststroke and IM groups are very impressive once again. Gus Borges is still improving incrementally, though a big second semester from freshman sprinter Cam Peel would be huge for their relays. Remember how disappointing their relays were last year? They’re top 10 in all five right now, including #3 in the 800 and the 200 medley. -KO

The distance and breaststroke groups should roll up big points, and the free relays are already looking better than they did last year. -RG

#2: Cal Golden Bears (-1)

Cal was largely so-so at Minnesota and missing Hugo Gonzalez, but I expect we’ll see much better performances at Pac-12s, and their best swims at NCAAs. -SP

It’s just hard to project what Hugo Gonzalez will ultimately do, without seeing him swim a whole lot this fall/winter. Another factor: the Cal freshmen just didn’t have any breakout swims at Minnesota. I’m still high on Jason Louser and Colby Mefford, but it’ll take a whale of a taper for those guys to be NCAA difference-makers this season. Cal is definitely taking the patient route, and they’re pretty reliable to show up when the post-season hits, but unless they can get a newcomer to score big somewhere, it looks like Texas’s additions have more than leveled the playing field. -JA

Hugo Gonzalez was out snagging Olympic qualification in Amsterdam mid-season, and overall it was evident that the Bears didn’t come down too much for the Minnesota Invite. Texas still blew them out of the water in Minneapolis, though. -KO

Let’s be clear: while Texas looks incredibly strong, Cal is by no means out of this. There’s still at least nine swimmers on this team who have the potential to make 2 or 3 A-finals each. This will come down to whichever team is closest to firing on all cylinders for the four days at NCAAs. Are you ready for March yet? I am. -RG

#1: Texas Longhorns (+1)

The Longhorns showed up at the Minnesota Invite with one of the most impressive mid-season invites we’ve ever seen. Right now, there’s at least 18 Longhorns safely qualified for NCAAs, with another five or six hovering right around last year’s invite times. Underclassmen like Braden Vines, Matt Willenbring, and Caspar Corbeau took some big steps forward, as did transfer Alvin Jiang. Still, despite the legendary “Texas Taper,” one of the things that hobbled the Longhorns last year was that some of the guys who had big swims at mid-season couldn’t match those times in March. -RG

There’s no denying Texas has been the highest performing team through the Fall semester. Honestly, it’s not even close. Everything is going the Longhorns’ way right now. They’re looking like title contenders in all 5 relays, Sam Pomajevich looks to be fully out of his sophomore slump, Daniel Krueger has been phenomenal, and we can’t forget the diving squad. -SP

Texas is scary fast right now, and they have an army of people lined up for a vast array of relay possibilities. Their roster is of course limited for NCAAs, so the coaches have some scoring possibility puzzles they’ll need to solve come March. -KO

It takes a lot for me to change my #1. Texas has done a lot. They have a 314-point lead over Cal in the Swimulator that doesn’t even factor in Texas’s huge diving advantage. The only worry is that Texas really hasn’t swum all that well at NCAAs since 2017. But the roster-wide talent is too much to ignore at this point. Under-discussed newcomer to watch: freshman Peter Larsonwho dropped from 1:35.3 to 1:33.6 in the 200 free while swimming the invite back in his home state of Minnesota. -JA

Full Ranking Ballots

Rank Jared Braden Robert Spencer Karl
1 Texas Texas Texas Texas Texas
2 Cal Cal Cal Cal Cal
3 Michigan Michigan Michigan Michigan Michigan
4 NC State NC State NC State NC State NC State
5 Indiana Indiana Indiana Indiana Indiana
6 Florida Texas A&M Ohio State Ohio State Texas A&M
7 Ohio State Arizona Florida Texas A&M Ohio State
8 Texas A&M Missouri Texas A&M Florida Florida
9 Arizona Florida Louisville Louisville Virginia
10 Missouri Ohio State Arizona Virginia Missouri
11 Louisville Louisville Virginia Arizona Louisville
12 Virginia Alabama Missouri Missouri Arizona
13 Arizona State Virginia Arizona State Stanford Georgia
14 Stanford Arizona State Stanford Arizona State Tennessee
15 Florida State Florida State Georgia Georgia Arizona State
16 Georgia Stanford Tennessee Tennessee Alabama
17 Alabama Georgia Alabama Alabama Stanford
18 Tennessee Tennessee Florida State USC Notre Dame
19 USC USC Notre Dame Notre Dame Florida State
20 Georgia Tech Georgia Tech Denver Minnesota Minnesota

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Dbswims
11 months ago

Honestly, the cover picture of Kreuger is a little strange. But regardless, I’m hoping texas can hit a great taper at NCAA and even breaks some records.

JCO
Reply to  Dbswims
11 months ago

Can the 200 free relay record please go down this year? It’s time for a 1:13

Dbswims
Reply to  JCO
11 months ago

I was thinking Katz in the 200 back

Horninco
11 months ago

You heard it here first

Texas 585
Cal 577
NC State 215
a&m 195
Indiana 183
Michigan 174
Florida 153

Texas swims in a short pool
Reply to  Horninco
11 months ago

yeah texas and cal will totally put up that many points

Horninco
Reply to  Texas swims in a short pool
11 months ago

Totes

Editor
Reply to  Horninco
11 months ago

I’m not predicting it will happen, but I would not be too surprised if Cal and Texas each clear 500 points and no other team cracks 300.

Horninco
Reply to  Robert Gibbs
11 months ago

I think that’s exactly what will happen if both teams are on point. The disparity this year is beyond anything we’ve seen recently. Both teams will likely have every swimmer score, and may have 6 or more guys each that make multiple A finals. Indiana and NC State are still in reload mode, and no other team has more than 2-3 dominant guys. Plus I think Texas and Cal will go 1-2 in every relay.

Of course DQ’s could throw a wrench into it.

PK Doesn’t Like His Long Name
Reply to  Horninco
11 months ago

I’d be pretty surprised if Texas and Cal go 1-2 in every relay. Bama in the 200 medley and a bunch of teams in the 400 and 800 free relays could easily throw a wrench in that.

Horninco
Reply to  PK Doesn’t Like His Long Name
11 months ago

Give me Bama’s 200 Medley line-up I agree taking the field is the smarter bet, but looking at the potential relays that Cal and Texas will trot out there, the times don’t add up for anyone else. I think Florida has the best shot to get there for the 800 Free relay, and maybe aggy depending on what their #4 lays down assuming Casas and Theall have 1:31’s or better. (Casas 1:33, Theal 1:31.5, Bobo 1:33.5 give them some juice) Not sure what NC State will put together. In the 400, Nobody has two guys to match Hoffer/Sendk or Krueger/Kibler/Rooney and both teams can runout 3/4/5 swimmers to match the rest 1/2’s 200 Free is the one where really anything… Read more »

JCO
Reply to  PK Doesn’t Like His Long Name
11 months ago

Bama could definitely have an outside shot at a high finish in the 2 medley. If Zane can improve on his SEC swim from last year and hit 20.1 or better leading off, expect them to be in the race. Bell/Maas and Sesvold will likely be 23 low & 19 high. Just need a good 18.4 anchor from likely Disette and they’re right there. Disette improved from 20.0 to 19.3 last season, so he’s on a fast improvement curve

Horninco
Reply to  JCO
11 months ago

What are their best current splits. No projection

RTR
Reply to  Horninco
11 months ago

Horninco, I agree with PK and JCO in that Bama could break up the Cal/Texas stronghold on relays, at least in the 200 medley. We will know a lot more after the 2020 SECs. Current Bama best splits as far as I can tell: Zane: 20.22 (2019 SECs) Bell/Maas: 24.06 (2019 GTI) Sesvold: 20.16 (2019 GTI) Disette/Berneberg: 18.93 (2019 SECs) Total of best splits: 1:23.37 Maybe with a shave and full taper, these breast and fly splits each drop by 0.3 to 0.5 seconds at SECs? Maybe a year later, Zane and Sam each drop 0.1 to 0.2 seconds from last year’s SECs? It’s not inconceivable that this Bama relay swims faster than last year’s Bama squad that touched the… Read more »

Horninco
Reply to  JCO
11 months ago

I mean, you just projected a 1:21.5

laughing/crying emoji

Horns up
Reply to  PK Doesn’t Like His Long Name
11 months ago

“A bunch of teams in the 400 and 800 free relays could easily throw a wrench in that,”
LoL
You silly goose.

PK Doesn't Like His Long Name
Reply to  Horns up
11 months ago

It’s more about Cal than it is about Texas in that regard. Texas is going to be a pretty huge favorite in the 800, Cal is going to be cobbling together a relay that doesn’t have a surefire 1:31.low or better type of split on it. If other teams get their 4th leg together, I could see Cal finishing anywhere from like 2nd to 5th in that relay.

The 400 is basically the highest variance relay, as a result of it being at the end of the meet. Every year there are teams that over or under-perform significantly in that relay. Locking in a 1-2 in that relay is premature.

Horninco
Reply to  PK Doesn't Like His Long Name
11 months ago

Hey, don’t run to Vegas on my behalf, but looking at the times the only relay I think even has a true contender to break a Cal/Texas logjam at the top is Indiana in the 200 Free Relay. Just based on known aggregate times the last 12 months, Texas and Cal are at least a second clear of everyone in the 200 Medley and two seconds in the 400 medley and 400 Free. Texas is the obvious runaway favorite in the 800, and could probably swim a B relay that could contend for 2nd or 3rd if the A relay wasn’t swimming. Cal can piece together an 800 (if they choose) of Gonzalez (1:32ish projected), Mefford (1:32.6 last year), Julian… Read more »

PK Doesn't Like His Long Name
Reply to  Horninco
11 months ago

Projecting a 1:32 for Hugo when his best time is 1:34.high is wildly ambitious. I remember when he split 1:35 leading off at 2018 NCAAs and I posted how bad it was, and then everyone said he went basically the same time at SECs, which wasn’t true-he was a lot worse! 1:35.8 anchoring.

Grant Sanders would be my guess for Florida’s 4th, and his best time is roughly the same as Hugo’s. If it’s not Sanders I would guess that it would be one of the other group guys who is in the 1:35 range they have, which feels like they’ve got enough that it’s likely one will pop.

Horns up
Reply to  Horninco
11 months ago

Horninco, Thank you for being the voice of reason. Also… not sure what’s up with Trey Freeman… he hasn’t posted times since early Fall that I’ve seen.

PsychoDad
Reply to  Horninco
11 months ago

So, Cal will beat Texas in swimming points? Nope! Texas by 100.

swimming
11 months ago

How is UVA only 12th???

Texas swims in a short pool
Reply to  swimming
11 months ago

because they’re overrated on the men’s side and haven’t produced a sprinter going sub 19.5 in a looooooong time. sprinting is everything and for some reason Desorbo hasn’t been so magical with his men…

AuggieBuschFan
Reply to  swimming
11 months ago

@SWIMMING because they aren’t fast?

Kevin
Reply to  swimming
11 months ago

Should they be lower or higher?

PACK ATTACK
Reply to  swimming
11 months ago

SLOW!

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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