2019-2020 NCAA Men’s Swimming & Diving Power Rankings: February 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: Purdue, USC)

Change from previous ranks shown in parentheses

#20: Denver Pioneers (Previously Unranked)

Mid-major programs have a tough time cracking these types of polls. Denver is clearly deserving. They’ve got a couple of 19.1/42. sprinters and the support swimmers to pad out relays. Denver’s highest-ever NCAA finish is 22nd from 2018. They’ll better that in year 1 under coach Alicia Hicken-Franklin. -JA

Denver has the pieces for a top 20 finish. Their 200/400 free relays already looked primed to score, and their medley relays could get down in scoring range too. -SP

#19: Notre Dame Fighting Irish (+1)

Notre Dame shouldn’t have a problem scoring individual points. Between Zach Yeadon, Sadler McKeen, and freshman Jack Hoagland, they have a phenomenal freestyle squad. The issue is their relays don’t appear to have the ability to score points, outside of perhaps the 800 free relay. -SP

In his freshman season, Jack Hoagland has already hit lifetime-bests twice in his 500 free, three times in his 1650 free, and twice in his 400 IM. -JA

While Hoagland has been getting a lot of attention, and rightfully so, the rest of Notre Dame’s freshman class has been fairly low-key thus far. But that class still has the potential to help out Notre Dame’s relays, especially Cason Wilburn. -RG

#18: Tennessee Volunteers (-1)

The Vols should get a nice diving boost from sophomore Matthew Wadeand Michael Houlie should score big this year after missing scoring as a rookie. -JA

Just like last year, Alec Connolly has been putting up some nice in-season times. Last year, though, Connolly couldn’t match the times from the mid-season invite at SECs. If he’s able to fix that this, season, it’ll go a long way toward solidifying the Tennessee’s relays. -RG

#17: Alabama Crimson Tide (-1)

A rocky year 1 for coach Coley Stickels. Zane Waddell is still reliable for NCAA points, and the medley relays will still be solid. Repeating last year’s top 10 finish is a tall order. -JA

This team still has the potential for some really strong medley relays, especially with Liam Bell and Tyler Sesvold. And I wouldn’t end up surprised at all if they do manage to find some scorers outside of Waddell. – -RG

#16: Florida State Seminoles (+2)

We know how much fans like to talk about who is being slept on. Well, we’ve all been sleeping on Florida State, who quietly retooled and always seem to bring their sprinters and sprint relays to the next level by the postseason. -JA

Raise your hand if you knew that Max McCusker and Griffin Alaniz have the #2 times in the ACC in the 100 fly and the 100 back, respectively. Despite losing a lot of seniors, the Seminoles should once again challenge some of the more traditional powers in the shorter events at ACCs. -RG

#15: Georgia Bulldogs (-)

Greg Reed went 9:00 in the 1000 free in early January, which is a great swim for that time of year. He could be in line for a big step forward after taking 15th in the mile at NCAAs last year. -JA

I honestly don’t know what to expect from Georgia at this point. But don’t be surprised if someone like freshman Ian Grum makes some noise at SECs. -RG

#14: Stanford Cardinal (-)

Now Alberto Mestre is back out. That’s a blow, as he’s more valuable to the relays than returnees LeVant and Shoults. The diving baseline keeps Stanford around the top 15, but the ceiling is dramatically lowered in year 1 for coach Dan Schemmel. -JA

Jack LeVant has been pretty quiet so far this year. A strong performance by him at Pac-12s could help vault Stanford up in the team projections. -RG

#13: Ohio State Buckeyes (-6)

The Buckeyes have ridden the Cameron Craig roller-coaster most of this year, surging up the ranks when he competed, then back down during an extended absence. What’s lost in all that is that OSU still has great talent and will have a solid diving baseline. It’s probably not a top 5 program anymore, but top 10 is still in play. -JA

I’m listening to certain Tom Petty song as I write this. Maybe we’re overreacting. After all, the Buckeyes bring back three of four legs from most of last year’s relays, so they really just need one guy to breakout to be back in good shape. Semuede Andreis could be a good candidate, especially after he popped a lifetime best in the 50 free at the OSU-Michigan dual meet a few weeks ago. -RG

#12: Arizona State Sun Devils (+1)

116 current relay points in the Swimulator – that’s no joke. ASU can probably get more than the projected 22.5 individual points, even if that relay total falls off some come NCAAs. -JA

The high school class of 2018 may have been the best group of teenage 200 freestylers ever, but only one ended up scoring in that event at NCAAs last year as freshmen. Cody Bybee, one of the top recruits in that class,finally improved on his time from high school at the NC State invite, but it’s not yet clear if he’s going to swim that or the 100 fly. Either way, he’s one of several guys who figure to carry this team through Pac-12s and NCAAs. -RG

#11: Virginia Cavaliers (+1)

WWJWD? Virginia’s two blue-chip freshmen, Jack Wright and Jack Walker, have each missed chunks of time this season. And both seem to have focused on mid-distance rather than sprint frees, which seems to be where Virginia could use the help. I’m watching to see if they’re both healthy at ACCs, as well as which relays they end up on. -RG

Rule of thumb: Todd Desorbo tends to elevate his relays to a greater value than the sum of their parts. Maybe that’s great coaching. Maybe it’s high-risk relay starts. In reality, it’s a little of both. UVA should put up at least one headline-grabbing relay time in the next month, and they’ll score more than their 46 projected relay points come NCAAs. -JA

#10: Florida Gators (-2)

Last season, Khader Baqlah was regularly throwing down 1:34s in the 200 free at dual meets, but couldn’t repeat the sub-1:32 performanes from the year before. This year, he’s yet to crack 1:36 in the 200 free. SECs should tell us if that’s a good thing or not. -RG

Now Trey Freeman is out after having knee surgery. Between the transfer exodus (Rooney, Stokowski, Gezmis) and the medical issues (Freeman, Taylor), Florida has effectively lost the talent of an entire top-15 team. Somebody wrap Kieran Smith in bubble wrap for the next two months. -JA

#9: Missouri Tigers (+2)

Watch out for highly-talented sophomores Danny Kovac and Jack Dahlgrenwho should be much better at NCAAs in year 2. -JA

Backstroke used to be a bit of liability for the Mizzou medley relays, but Daniel Hein has steadily improved, and the senior was roughly half a second faster at this year’s midseason invite than last year’s. He could threaten the sub-45 barrier at SECs or NCAAs. -RG

#8: Louisville Cardinals (+2)

Louisville has a long history of getting some big performances from international swimmers. Ilia Sibirtsev has been fairly quiet so far this season, but his long course track record suggest he could end up as a scoring threat in at least the 1650. -RG

Keep in mind that Louisville’s paltry 42 projected relay points are all based off of in-season times without Andrej Barna. This is a top-10 team. -JA

#7: Arizona Wildcats (+2)

Arizona is currently 5th in the swimulator, though that has a lot to do with their relays performing really well at mid-season. Brooks Fail may very well be the 500 free champ, and could go from not scoring to winning the mile. (He was 18th last year but ranks #2 nationwide this season). -JA

The Wildcats have sneaky-good relays, but not a lot of big names. Etay Gurevich could end up as the fastest non-Cal IMer in the Pac-12, especially in the 400. -RG

#6: Texas A&M Aggies (-)

This is going to be a big year for the Aggie men. There’s a real chance to be top 5, especially if freshmen at NC State and/or IU don’t perform. Shaine Casas is going to win at least one event at NCAAs. No idea which one. -JA

Sure, Casas is the big name, but this is team is deeper than you probably realize. While they only have one swimmer in the top ten in either the 50 free or the 100 free (Adam Koster), both sprint free relays are currently ranked in the top five in the nation. -RG

#5: NC State Wolfpack (-1)

Only four projected individual scorers for the Wolfpack. That feels… low. Let’s see how these freshmen perform at ACCs. My bet is that 2-3 rookies etch their names on the NCAA scoring projections after the conference meets are wrapped. -JA

NC State brought in a loaded freshmen class. It usually takes a year before we see Wolfpack men really develop, but they’ve typically been working more with “diamond in the rough” types than blue-chippers. All that to say, the Wolfpack class of 2023 is going to make an impact, and ACCs should let us know if that impact will come this year, or later on down the road. -RG

#4: Indiana Hoosiers (+1)

IU is relying on a lot of key freshmen, but so far, they look pretty good. Brendan Burns and Will Gallant are projected to score in the Swimulator, and sophomores Jack Franzmann and Mikey Calvillo should play key roles. -JA

The Hoosiers have an interesting little backstroke group, including Gabriel Fantoni, Mohamed Samy, and Jacob Steele, that could pull in a lot more points than they’re currently projected to. – RG

#3: Michigan Wolverines (-)

Michigan’s sprint group is on the rise, which bolsters their campaign for a top 3 finish in March. -KO

Several consecutive years of great recruiting is paying off for Michigan, which has dominant crews in the mid-distance free and IMs. One oddly-specific prediction: after a huge Big Ten showing, Michigan is going to open up a conversation among fans (and maybe rankers) as to whether they should leap Cal in our final pre-NCAA power ranks. -JA

Sophomore Patrick Callan swam the three fastest 200 freestyle races of his life at the Minnesota Invite, after not improving his time in that race as a freshman. He could be in the running for the Big Ten title in that event. Part of me is expecting big things from Callan and the rest of the Wolverines at Big Tens, but part of me is also wondering if they’ll change their postseason approach this after faltering at NCAAs last year.

#2: Cal Golden Bears (-)

Call me the contrarian. A nearly-300-point margin in the Swimulator seems almost insurmountable. I’m buying Cal outperforming projections for a few reasons: (1) Hugo Gonzalez is projected at 9 points, and I’d expect at least triple that. (2) Cal has lots of returning scorers currently projected well out of scoring range, like Sean Grieshop (49 last year, projected 4 this year), Zheng Quah (29 last year, projected 11 this year) and Bryce Mefford (16 last year, projected 7.5 this year). (3) Cal has consistently showed up very well at NCAAs the past couple of years. -JA

How close will Hugo Gonzalez come at Pac-12s to repeating his SEC times from 2018? In case you’ve forgotten, he ranks #3 all-time with his 3:35.76, and Cal sure could use that level of performance again if they’re going to top Texas. -RG

#1: Texas Longhorns (-)

Not a single swimmer that Texas initially recruited from the high school class of 2016 has scored a NCAA point, or swum on a NCAA relay. The closest thus far has been Josh Artmann, whose 1:41.00 in the 200 back from the Minnesota Invite is just a couple-tenths off of last year’s NCAA scoring time. Even if that qualifies for NCAAs, it may not be enough to make the Longhorns’ loaded roster, so it’ll be interesting to see if Artmann can go 1:40-low at Big 12s. The broader point here is that while the Longhorns’ top ten swimmers may not as many points as Cal’s top ten, swimmers #11-16 could make the difference, if the Longhorns take the right 16 guys out of the 22-24 who are likely to qualify for NCAAs. -RG

Texas has unbelievable high-end depth – they’ve got chances to put 3+ swimmers into multiple NCAA A finals. What that’s going to take, though, is for their taper to hit square-on – something that hasn’t really happened since 2017. The reasons for optimism are plenty, though: the nation’s best 100/200 free crew is going to wreak havoc on the relays. It’s a shame for Texas that they can’t enter B relays, because theirs would definitely score big. -JA

Charlie Scheinfeld‘s performance against Arizona, swimming 1:00.63/2:09.15 in the breaststrokes, is reason for pause here. I know, I know – Texas is tired, they don’t care about dual meets, but 1:00.6/2:09.1 for a swimmer of his caliber seems like more than just ‘tired’ to me. -BK

 

FULL RANKING BALLOTS

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

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Harambe

Last time Texas lost NCAAs at home (2014) they came back and won the next 4 NCAAs in a row. A vengeful longhorn is a fast longhorn

DravenOP

“We know how much fans like to talk about who is being slept on.” Best line in the entire article.

Gloom

Agree with the list. Looking for Northwestern to crack the top 20!

fan

NU got snubbed

Austinpoolboy

NU is definitely an up and comer.

Horninco

Don’t sleep on NU…..

Texas A&M Swim Fan

If anyone is complaining about Northwestern not being ranked at least 20th (making the rankings), then you really don’t have a complaint🤔

Texas A&M Swim Fan

Or better yet…. you’re just “begging for pennies”!!

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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