2019-2020 NCAA Women’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:

The tides are turning, and we have a new #1 in our NCAA swimming & diving rankings, updated after mid-season invites across the nation.

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: Arizona, Duke, UNC)

Change from previous ranks shown in parentheses

#20: Arkansas Razorbacks (Previously Unranked)

Junior Peyton Palsha dropping two seconds from her lifetime-best with a 4:38.8 in the 500 free gives Arkansas a third potential scorer to go with on-fire sprinter Anna Hopkin and diver Brooke Schultz. It’s not going to take much more than that to earn the ~60 points it takes for 18th overall. -JA

#19: Arizona State Sun Devils (-2)

Only one relay is projected to score in the Swimulator at this point, but four individuals rank in the top 16 in at least one event. Cierra Runge is still a high-impact swimmer. -JA

#18: Wisconsin Badgers (-2)

Wisconsin needs someone else to step up in support of Beata Nelson, otherwise it’s going to be Beata and whatever relays she can lift into the B final. So far, no one has really arisen, so it’s hard to see Wisconsin with more than 80 or so points. -JA

#17: Texas A&M Aggies (-2)

If I had to put money on it, I’d bet on A&M finishing higher than this (I ranked them 19th) at NCAAs. But we just haven’t seen the evidence yet from a team ranked just 25th in the Swimulator. Jing Quah has had her best swims in long course, so those are probably “hidden” points unaccounted for in the Swimulator calculations though. -JA

#16: Alabama Crimson Tide (Previously Unranked)

Fast-improving sprinters and a fast-improving backstroker (Rhyan White)? Hmm, looks like Coley Stickels is working his magic. -KO

#15: Indiana Hoosiers (-)

Cora Dupre is a sprint free lifeline. -KO

Five projected scorers in the Swimulator at present, but only six total relay points. Indiana seems to have enough rising depth to outperform those relay projections and fight for a spot in the 10-15 range. -JA

#14: Louisville Cardinals (-2)

Hard to know what to do with Louisville, who are 18th in the Swimulator and only projected at 35 relay points. It’s definitely a new-look team, and outside of Grace Oglesbythey don’t have a lot of projected scorers as of yet. They should come around in the post-season, but another top 10 finish is looking like a tall order. -JA

#13: Missouri Tigers (+5)

OK, Mizzou, we see you! Both 200-yard relays rank top-5 in the nation in a sprint renaissance for the Tigers. Those finishes will be hard to hold up, but I do see Missouri making several A finals after scoring just 30 points across three relays last year. -JA

While they’ve been going fast all-season, the Tigers still squeezed out season bests at their mid-season meet. Sarah Thompson is absolutely blowing up, too. -KO

#12: Florida Gators (+1)

The sprints and relays are starting to look very dependable. But where was Vanessa Pearl? The potential 3-event scorer didn’t compete at the Georgia Tech Invite. Worth keeping an eye on. -JA

#11: Auburn Tigers (-1)

Both sprint free relays rank in the top 5 nationally, but the medleys don’t look anywhere near that level. Abbey Webb had a great fall, but didn’t drop a ton at mid-season. There’s big talent here, but maybe we should temper expectations just a little bit after getting very excited about the Tigers over the fall season. -JA

#10: Georgia Bulldogs (+1)

I’m still a little skittish to put Georgia this firmly in the top 10 (I ranked them 9th). But they’re 6th right now in the Swimulator, and Zoie Hartman looks like an extreme impact freshman. Georgia will definitely need its relays to come around with only three projected to score at this point. But I don’t buy that a team can have the 4th-ranked 400 medley nationally and be outside the top 20 in the 200. The talent will rise and that shorter medley will find a way to score. -JA

#9: Kentucky Wildcats (-)

Freshman backstroker Caitlin Brooks is fitting right into a loaded group. We know what Asia Seidt can do. Now it’s probably the next tier of high-end support swimmers and relay legs who need to step up for Kentucky to make a top-10 foray in March. -JA

#8: Texas Longhorns (-3)

Not that impressive a mid-season meet for Texas. But maybe that’s what we’ve been waiting for, since the lingering question mark around this team is how well they can show up in March as opposed to earlier. Only four women are projected to score individually right now, but I’d expect that number to rise. Plus Texas will get a good diving bump. -JA

This team is always question marks when it comes to NCAAs. Their freshmen were solid at mid-season, while Kelly Pash is having a ferocious debut. -KO

#7: USC Trojans (+1)

The Trojans are 8th in the current Swimulator ranks, and that’s with Louise Hansson only scoring 26. (She scored 55 last season). It’s the relays carrying the load for USC at the moment, and those double-point events are so key. -JA

Freestyle depth from the 50-200 is very impressive, especially from sophomore Laticia Transom. -KO

#6: Michigan Wolverines (+1)

Michigan has looked awesome. And their strong roster should get Olivia Carter added to the mix at mid-season. It still hinges on how well these relays can reload, but the early returns (ranked #3 in both medleys and top 11 in all relays) are very promising. -JA

Their distance group is relentless. While the 200 fly is Olivia Carter’s bread-and-butter, the January transfer could be just what the medley relays need to be relevant again. Moreover, her versatility in fly, back, mid-distance free, and IM, will go a long way at a program that successfully supported the versatile endeavors of one Siobhan Haughey. -KO

#5: NC State Wolfpack (-1)

No team has appeared to have as much long course/short course split focus this fall as NC State, which sent a lot of its top stars to U.S. Open last week. Even with that split focus, NC State is fifth in the Swimulator. The key is going to be getting Ky-Lee Perry back on track. The standout sprinter didn’t compete much this fall and has been off her mid-season bests from a year ago. -JA

#4: Tennessee Volunteers (+2)

Erika Brown is on fire, there’s no doubt about it. Can UT climb into the top three? Certainly; the key may lie in Kaitlin Harty returning to full form in the backstroke. -KO

Tennessee has consistently impressed this fall, and they rank #3 in the Swimulator. Erika Brown was a high school mid-distance freestyler; could she return to her roots with the 200 free over the 100 fly this spring? The former event is much more wide open than the latter, and Brown currently leads the nation. -JA

#3: Virginia Cavaliers (-)

Those medley relays are something special. UVA has a swimmer ranked in the top 8 in current Swimulator projections in all but five events, and they have a projected scorer in all but one. Swimmer to watch: Abby Richter, who scored 5 NCAA points last year but is projected at 13 currently after lifetime-bests in the 200 fly (1:55.32) and 400 IM (4:10.88) at mid-season). -JA

Kate Douglass won’t stop impressing. Paige Madden is an absolute force. Morgan Hill is a relay hero. But the real kicker is the UVA medley relays, which are, excuse my French, simply disgusting right now. The depth could come through to make it interesting with the Bay Area teams, but we haven’t quite seen it yet. -KO

#2: Stanford Cardinal (-1)

I’ve been a pretty hardline Stanford truther this year, but I’m a lot less confident than I’ve been, based on how Cal swam at mid-season. A key reason I’m keeping Stanford at #1? Current Swimulator projections have two of five Stanford relays outside of scoring range, and I just don’t see that happening at NCAAs. -JA

I’m tentative to put Stanford down a notch, but while they will almost certainly exude much more power come March, one luxury will not be afforded to this team: a truly elite sprint freestyler. When they lost Simone Manuel, Taylor Ruck stepped up to the plate; can anyone replace Ruck, though? It doesn’t look like it yet. And the sprint strokers will need to pick it up to compete with the advancements we’re seeing in events like the 100 fly and 100 back. -KO

#1: California Golden Bears (+1)

The Cal women are the only team over 300 on the current Swimulator projections at 354.5, and while things will inevitably shift over the back-half of the season, this isn’t one team’s meet to lose anymore. In an effort not to try to leave too much to ‘how things will end up shaking out,’ Cal looks the best right now. To look back to historical context, though, they definitely have more in the tank. -KO

Cal is making a strong push for top team status. They’ve got the runaway best sprinter in the field, and that’s going to count for a lot on relays come March. -JA

Full Ranking Ballots

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

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4 years ago

Where are the Ohio State women?? The beat Number 9 Kentucky at the fall invite. They are definitely in the top 20!

4 years ago

I think you will see the USC Trojans go even higher at NCAAs. Louise Hansson only did half the programme, didn’t do the 400 free relay, Marta Ciesla and Kirsten Vose didn’t even swim, and there is upside on a few others. Top 5 for me.

Reply to  Bigboy21
4 years ago

Why didn’t those two swim?

Reply to  Superfan
4 years ago

Kirsten Vose retired

Reply to  Bigboy21
4 years ago

Wasn’t Vose a senior last season? Also, while we’re on the topic of USC, does anyone know what happened to Isabella Rongione?? She was an outstanding young distance swimmer (set multiple NAG records, youngest swimmer to represent the U.S. at 2013 Jr worlds where she medaled in the 1500.) She declined some throughout high school despite training under Genmel with Ledecky. She swam at USC for two years and is not on the roster for this season.

Reply to  Swamfan
4 years ago

struggled similarly to becca mann there

Samuli Hirsi
Reply to  Swamfan
4 years ago

i wonder has anybody done any lists of high school stars who just dissappeared in college… just seems sometimes with people with axe to grind pick some lost past hero to knife school they hate…. not commenting your comment, just overall….

4 years ago

How is UVA not number one! They have been lights out all season long at every meet at every level?

Reply to  swimfan
4 years ago

I don’t want to add to the excessive hype that they get here, but UVA has a shot if the stars align – they’ll need to be firing on all cylinders like the Cal men were last year, and Cal and Stanford will need to be off or DQ a few relays…

Reply to  Sparkle
4 years ago

Next year I can see them winning it all

Reply to  swimfan
4 years ago

Uhhh UVA got dunked, dunked and skunked by the girlie Vols in dual meet and the Invite!!! If UVA are #1 the UT gals bein better than #1!!!!!!

Reply to  Bambi
4 years ago

Poor judgment on your part to gauge which team is better based on an early season dual meet and an invite where both teams played around with lineup, skipped events, etc. All that matters is March 2020.

Reply to  Patrick
4 years ago

Why do teams keep score if not matter? Why UVA get beat so much and it not matter? Olympics matter … what is this March matter?

2 Cents
4 years ago

I think a lot of the top 6 or so is either ranked on what they have already done, or potential… I would think it would be one or the other, but who cares at this point… Cal is clearly ranked on what they’ve done, Stanford and State on potential as well as mentioned by their LCM focus this winter/fall. I am kind of surprised Michigan isn’t a bit higher, but I think the top 6 teams is pretty well set as far as who will be in the top 6 come March. I also think top 3 are set pretty well and the 4-6 is set pretty well.

Hint of Lime
4 years ago

Hey SS staff — thanks as always for thorough and thoughtful analysis. Jumping in to say that I like the format of the +/- notations to show team moves from ranking to ranking!

Reply to  Hint of Lime
4 years ago

Ngl, the +/- addition is dope

4 years ago

Why is xxx team ranked so low?

Why is xxx team ranked so high?

Why are you sleeping on xxx team?

Why didn’t you mention xxx?

Think I summed it up?

2 Cents
Reply to  DravenOP
4 years ago

Since when did Vin Diesel start swimming??

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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