2019-2020 NCAA Women’s Power Rankings: First 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.

Sure, we just wrapped up our College Swimming Previews series, which was a power ranking of sorts for the top 12 programs. But those longform previews have been in the works since late August, and a lot of recent redshirt news have caused some significant upheaval. Our first edition power rankings are a more up-to-date look at how we rank the top 20 programs nationally in the ‘preseason’ – dual meets have officially started, but there hasn’t yet been enough action to change much in our minds.

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: Notre Dame, Purdue)

#20: Duke Blue Devils (2019 NCAA finish: 23rd)

The Duke women had a great NCAA Championship meet last year. Combined with the addition of star diver Ali Watson, the Blue Devils are looking to sustain their program-level advances from the last half-decade or so. -BK

#19: Minnesota Golden Gophers (2019 NCAA finish: 11th)

Nobody was hit as hard by redshirts as the Minnesota Gophers; that being said, they still return most of their All-American medley relays. The Gophers are still a top 20 team all day long. -BK

I’d still maintain this is a top-10, maybe top-7 team before the flood of redshirts (Padington, Bacon, Hayden). The relays might be sneaky-good, though, and even with the two divers sitting out, there are some intriguing names on the diving roster of this perennial dive powerhouse. -JA

#18: Ohio State Buckeyes (2019 NCAA finish: 25th)

Every individual NCAA entrant last year was a sophomore or junior. The program seems to be looking up, and they have some solid freshmen coming in. -JA

#17: Wisconsin Badgers (2019 NCAA finish: 16th)

Wisconsin scored only 40 relay points at NCAAs last year. With one last season of eligibility for Beata Nelson, the pre-season favorite for swimmer of the year, they’ll be banking on assembling some bigger relay scores around her, even after some loss of depth to graduations -BK

It’s the Beata show, mostly. But she’s good enough to account for top-20 points in her 7 events, provided Wisconsin can put even decent relays around her. -JA

#16: Florida Gators (2019 NCAA finish: 24th)

Florida was a way better team last year than its 24th-place finish suggests – they just brutally underperformed at NCAAs, fading nearly 50 points from seed. Things should improve in year 2 under Jeff PoppellMeanwhile Talia Bates is a really intriguing freshman addition. -JA

#15: Texas A&M Aggies (2019 NCAA finish: 13th)

The Aggies were thwacked by graduations for the 2nd-straight year. This is always a hard team to read pre-season, because Steve Bultman seems to dig more NCAA scorers out of obscurity than anyone in the country. He’ll need to pull another rabbit to get the A&M women back into the top 10, where they had been a fixture prior to a 13th-place finish last season. -BK

#14: Arizona State Sun Devils (2019 NCAA finish: 20th)

Cierra Runge is back for what feels like her 10th year in the NCAA. Lindsay Looney is a really nice pickup for the Sun Devils. -JA

The Sun Devils had a ton of swimmers just miss scoring at NCAAs last season. If they can find a way to squeeze a few more tenths out in March, their future will tredn ‘up.’ -BK

Emma Nordin has hit her stride, and I’m excited to see what’s on tap for her this season. -KO

#13: Louisville Cardinals (2019 NCAA finish: 4th)

I kind of expect Louisville to rise from here (I ranked them #12) as the season goes. The loss of Mallory Comerford sets them back big-time in projected points. But the Cardinals usually conjure up some scorers when the chips are on the table. -JA

#12: Indiana Hoosiers (2019 NCAA finish: 9th)

After losing their biggest star Lilly King to graduation and several other key contributors to transfer, the Hoosiers are climbing uphill this year. They still have talent, but they’ve lost all 4 of their assistants: some to better situations, some to worse. If Ray Looze gets his team into the top 10 this year, that will be his most impressive performance yet. -BK

Lilly King was keeping this team afloat for awhile now, and with her (and what feels like the entire coaching staff) out the door, this is no longer the IU team that stuck in the top 10. The incoming talent is very good (Emily Weiss, Cora Dupre and Ashley Turak should all have early impacts), but they’ll need to be. -JA

#11: Auburn Tigers (2019 NCAA finish: 12th)

I have a really good feeling about the Auburn women, who seemed to have an awesome first year under head coach Gary Taylor. Getting Australian superstar Abbey Webb on the roster a year earlier than anticipated has these sprint relays looking really, really good. -JA

If Abbey Webb can transition well to yards, the sprint trifecta that she forms with Julie Meynen and Claire Fisch is really strong. The freshman class is huge; something good will probably develop here. -KO

#10: USC Trojans (2019 NCAA finish: 10th)

It’s a fairly international roster, which has to give some cause for concern in an Olympic year. Louise Hansson is an impact swimmer with or without an NCAA taper. The Trojans need swimmers like Maggie Aroesty and Kirsten Vose to return to top form. -JA

#9: Kentucky Wildcats (2019 NCAA finish: 15th)

A strong roster with few graduations, and they get yet another elite backstroke prospect in Caitlin BrooksKentucky makes its first-ever venture into the top 10 at NCAAs this year. You heard it here first. -JA

#8: Georgia Bulldogs (2019 NCAA finish: 18th)

Zoie Hartman is a game-changer, and I think Eva Merrell will be a factor this year. We’ll see where she starts, though. -KO

This feels high for Georgia based on the past few lackluster NCAA finishes. But the numbers back it up: UGA is 6th in our projected returning points, even with the loss of Olivia Carter. Zoie Hartman is going to be a huge pickup. The real question is whether the relays come together or underperform like last year. -JA

#7: Michigan Wolverines (2019 NCAA finish: 3rd)

A ton of talent outgoing and the relays are basically a half-demolished Lego toy at this point. Maggie MacNeil is a saving grace (but how much will she rest for NCAAs with Canadian Trials so close afterwards?) and Kaitlynn Sims is an excellent distance prospect. -JA

#6: Tennessee Volunteeers (2019 NCAA finish: 8th)

Pretty much all the top swimmers return. The two hurdles are (1) replacing Maddy Banic’s relay legs and (2) figuring out how to perform better at NCAAs. The wild card is transfer Kaitlin Hartywho could have no impact, but could be a word-beater in the backstrokes. -JA

#5: Texas Longhorns (2019 NCAA finish: 5th)

In spite of their repeated struggles to hit their taper at NCAAs, the Texas divers continue to rock in March. They add another potential star to the roster this year in Jordan Skilken. -BK

Texas hasn’t completely put it together yet compared to their talent level… but they seem to be getting better every year. I’m mainly high on the Longhorns because of their relays, which they’ve been diligently assembling with every recruiting cycle. -JA

They have yet to really knock it out of the park at NCAAs (besides a few individuals) under Carol Capitani. I almost want them to *not* be super fast at season’s start, and work their way through the season… -KO

#4: NC State Wolfpack (2019 NCAA finish: 7th)

If it weren’t for Virginia, the Wolfpack would be the team we’re all buzzing about. The relays – especially the 200-yard ones – could be nasty. Katharine Berkoff could turn out to be the best freshman in the nation. -JA

#3: Virginia Cavaliers (2019 NCAA finish: 6th)

The team with all the hype heading into the season, Virginia returns more points from 2019 NCAAs than anyone but Stanford or Cal. The relays could be amazing. How early will we notice this #1-ranked recruiting class? -JA

This is a team with a lot of energy, and their fan base has made itself very visible over the past couple of seasons. This is a year with big potential for the ‘Hoos to show that their bark isn’t more than their bite. -KO

#2: Cal Golden Bears (2019 NCAA finish: 2nd)

Still an outstanding roster. Abbey Weitzeil singlehandedly makes any team competitive. Cal could have an outside shot to sweep all five relays. They’re not as deep as Stanford, but still very good. -JA

Weitzeil already looks ridiculously good. Which should scare a lot of people. -KO

#1: Stanford Cardinal (2019 NCAA finish: 1st)

From the chatter after Taylor Ruck‘s redshirt announcement, you’d think it was open season for taking down Stanford. Not even close. Everyone is forgetting how good this roster is top-to-bottom. Even without Ruck and the graduated Eastin, they return NCAA scorers Brooke Forde, Lauren Pitzer, Allie Raab, Lucie Nordmann, Katie Drabot, Erin Voss, Zoe Bartel, Anya Goeders, Amalie Fackenthal, Grace Zhao and Megan Byrnes. Should I add in the ones in position to move up and score? Do we even have enough space? -JA

We know what this team is capable of, but this tiny freshman class could become super important for sprint relays when it comes down to the nitty gritty in March. -KO


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

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3 years ago

I still think you have over rated Georgia. I think they will be better than last year because they didn’t graduate any points and they got Zoie, who is huge. They still need lots of relay help and I wouldn’t count on Merrell doing much. Bottom line, we will see who shows up in March!

3 years ago

where would u of A stand?

Reply to  swimmer
3 years ago

I presume you mean Arizona? (Only because Akron, another U of A, is also relevant nationally these days).

Arizona is probably 21 or 22. I bounced them back and forth with Duke for that last spot in my rankings. Both teams are highly dependent on diving. I’m confident that Arizona will probably poke their heads into the top 20 at different points this season. That Minnesota Invite is absolutely stacked, and I suspect that this will lead to a lot of really fast mid-season times and that teams who race at that meet will naturally rise in the polls.

Reply to  swimmer
3 years ago

literally nowhere

3 years ago

“MacNeil is a fantastic backstroker, but someone needs to step up in fly for the Wolverines”??
Opposite day?

Reply to  Confused
3 years ago

MacNeil does backstroke on the relays for Michigan a lot of the time. They switch her between fly and back to find the best order.

Reply to  Wow
3 years ago

She didn’t at any serious meets last year

Reply to  Confused
3 years ago

They actually have a number of flyers on the team. Some old and some new.

3 years ago

@Carol Capitani – please stop caring about dual meets.

3 years ago

I like the consensus for 1-4, 6 and 18

Reply to  Landrew
3 years ago

The consensus at 18 is kind of weird to me, given that 15-22 is pretty much a dead heat at this point.

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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