2019-2020 NCAA Women’s Swimming & Diving Power Ranks: Final 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 scoring of the NCAA psych sheets here.

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: Duke, Arkansas)

#20: Missouri Tigers (-7)

After suiting all year, do they have any more to drop? Even matching times can be effective at this meet, so we’ll see what the Tigers can do. Losing Hynes really hurts, though. -KO

Don’t be fooled – Missouri is 18th in psych sheet points, but that’s mostly based on three relays that had Haley Hyneswho is now medically retired. Do the Tigers have the depth to fill in for a top-flight athlete like that? It’s going to be tough sledding to hold those relay places at NCAAs. -JA

#19: Indiana Hoosiers (-5)

IU’s questionable depth hurt them big-time at Big Tens, but will be covered over better in the NCAA format. This does look like the weakest their dive group has been in awhile, which is another drain on national points. -JA

#18: Northwestern Wildcats  (Previously Unranked)

The ‘Cats really showed up at B1Gs, and we know Calypso Sheridan has more in the tank. Their breaststroke group could do major damage, too. -KO

This group feels a little to me like Northwestern’s legendary men’s team that flashed onto the NCAA stage with Matt Grevers and Mike Alexandrov for a few years. The medley relays could become a real factor this year or next, and freshman breaststroker Hannah Brunzell is the real deal. -JA

#17: Arizona State Sun Devils (+2)

Emma Nordin is having the NCAA season that her high school prowess suggested she could have. -KO

The Sun Devils are on fire the last month or so. Keep an eye on their 800 free relay, which sits 9th and should swim out of an earlier NCAA heat, but went 1:44/1:43/1:47/1:43 at Pac-12s. If they can find a fourth leg, that relay could be top-5 at NCAAs. -JA

#16: Wisconsin Badgers (+1)

Lillie Hosack was a bit MIA this season, but she was very on-form at B1Gs. Her individual scoring potential is important, and their relays look more promising than I had thought just a few weeks ago. -KO

Feels like Wisconsin only used Beata Nelson on the 200 free relay at Big Tens to get that team a provisional cut and an NCAA berth. They rank 24th on psych sheets even with Nelson’s split, so using her there is a waste. The Badgers should score big in the 800 free relay (seeded 4th) and 400 medley relay (seeded 7th), but need to fight for any points at all in the other two – they’re seeded 15th in the 400 free relay and 19th in the 200 medley, even with Nelson factored into their seed time. Scoring only 40 relay points like last year probably caps their ceiling at about 15th. Score more like 60 or 70 there (plus Nelson’s likely 60 individually) and you could be looking at at top-12 finish. -JA

#15: Florida Gators (-)

Sherridon Dressel has a shot at three A final appearances. Star freshman Talia Bates competed at SECs (good), but wasn’t fast enough to make NCAAs individually (bad). However, if she’s getting healthier, she could speed up the relays significantly. -JA

#14: Auburn Tigers (-2)

Yeah, the sprint group definitely went after it at SECs, but I believe that this group will show up just as well at NCAAs for some big relay points. They also have a returning NCAA-scoring diver and already sit 10th in psych sheet points. I’ve been consistently higher on Auburn all year than most voters, and after they hit two nation-leading relays, I’m not going to move them down. -JA

Claire Fisch, Julie Meynen, and the Auburn sprinters have seriously taken flight. -KO

#13: Texas Longhorns (-6)

Things have fallen apart in a hurry for Texas. No Grace Ariola thins out the relays badly, and the Longhorns appear to have circled the wagon, pulling back on individual entries to load up the relays. That’s probably their best strategy for remaining in the top 10, but one bad relay swim in prelims and they’re in some trouble. -JA

Only 5 NCAA qualifiers, with a lot doing 5 relays, will definitely drop the Texas Longhorns. But, don’t forget that they still have very good divers. -BK

#12: Alabama Crimson Tide (+6)

A new-look team led by Rhyan White and a revamped sprint group. -KO

How will Rhyan White back up her huge SEC swims in the national spotlight? She’s an outstanding swimmer, but in a loaded NCAA backstroke field, it wouldn’t take much for her to fall off from her projected 37 backstroke points. -JA

#11: Ohio State Buckeyes  (Previously Unranked)

Ohio State’s men are slowly shedding the label of fast Big Ten swims without NCAA production to back it up. Is this the year the women do as well? I think this deep roster is simply better suited for a conference-type meet, but they’re still a borderline top-10 team at NCAAs, even without a really standout relay or two. -JA

#10: Louisville Cardinals (+1)

Louisville absolutely crushed NCAAs last year with a nation-high +70.5 points from seed. They’re only 14th in psych sheet scoring right now, but feel as safe a bet as any to remain in the top 10 despite some big graduations. -JA

#9: Kentucky Wildcats (+1)

I’ve been pushing Kentucky as a top-10 program all year. They’ve got 3 of the top 8 seeds in the 200 back and six projected scoring swims in backstroke. The big key in this part of the ranks, though, is relay scoring, and Kentucky has some work to do there with just two relays projected to score. -JA

#8: USC Trojans (+1)

Laticia Transom has excelled this year, and if their relays can show up despite Hansson being off all five, the Trojans look good for a top eight finish. -KO

#7: Georgia Bulldogs (+1)

Georgia is 6th in psych sheet scoring, and they return two divers from NCAAs last year, whose points aren’t yet included on psych sheets. Not only that, but Georgia currently only has one relay ranked in the top 8 on psych sheets, which to me means room to move up. -JA

#6: NC State Wolfpack (-)

I know Katharine Berkoff hasn’t shaved yet, but I just don’t get the sense she’s going to have her big breakout as a freshman. The Wolfpack struggled to hang onto their seeding last year (-55 from psych sheet points), which gives me a little more pause. Call me crazy, but I still think NC State, not Virginia, will win the 200 medley relay after switching in Kylee Alons to the fly leg. -JA

#5: Tennessee Volunteers (-1)

Tennessee has historically struggled to hold their times and seeds at NCAAs. After going all-out for the program’s first-ever SEC title, I have to believe they don’t have too much room left to move up. A few NCAA titles and a top-5 finish, though, would make this a banner season for the Vols. Curious if they can pull off a relay win again. -JA

#4: Michigan Wolverines (+1)

After Big Tens, I get the sense that Michigan’s eyes have been firmly planted on NCAAs. The big concern is whether Maggie MacNeil‘s rest is at all affected by Canadian Olympic Trials coming up so quickly, but the way she swam at Big Tens, there shouldn’t be a lot of doubt. -JA

Olivia Carter should give them a nice boost with her 200 fly, and she helps the 400 medley come around. -KO

#3: California Golden Bears (-1)

This year’s title is very much up in the air – it feels like the thriller of a men’s meet we had a few years ago where multiple teams were in contention until the final day or two. I’ll trust Cal to reload their relays, which all finished 1st or 2nd last year but are mostly ranked 4th and 5th in current psych sheet scoring. When things are this close, elite talents make a big difference, and I think Abbey Weitzeil is the type of talent to push Cal to the top – provided she is healthy. -JA

If Weitzeil is ready to go, this team can contend for the title. If not, they’re a cut above the rest, but not up for the title. -KO

I’ve got all three of the top teams scoring between 320-370 points. It looks like there’s only been three occasions where the women’s Division I Championships has been won with less than 400 points. -RG

#2: Virginia Cavaliers (+1)

I won’t be surprised if Virginia’s rise to the top comes a year or two earlier than expected. -KO

It’s been a while since the NCAA Champion seemed so uncertain heading into the meet. -BK

It would not surprise me at all to see Virgina win this, but I think Stanford gets a slight edge because of experience. -RG

Hard to rank Virginia this low. My rationale: I think they’ve shown more of their cards at this point than Cal or Stanford, and with all five relays ranked in the top 3 in psych sheet scoring, they have more opportunities to move down than move up. I’ll say it, though: Kate Douglass will be sensational and will probably carry at least one relay to a title. It might be a year or two too early for UVA; they’ll have better title opportunties over the next few years. -JA

#1: Stanford Cardinal (+2)

Sue me, but I still think that Stanford is going to pull this one out. Their relays are going to have to really ball out to hold up in the top eight (though the 800 relay should be strong), but I think they have enough scoring options across enough events to hold off Virginia. -KO

Super bold prediction: a three-way tie for 1st place, with each team scoring 333&1/3 points. -RG

I would have picked Stanford with no second thought, but a 181-point margin behind UVA in psych sheet scoring gave me one. I trust the depth of this Stanford team way more than the depth of Cal or Virginia. My fear is for the medley relays, which really don’t have a backstroker or a butterflyer. Freestyle depth is off-the-charts, but that can only do so much. The wild card being overlooked, though: Stanford returns two elite divers who scored at NCAAs as freshmen. I’ll be they combine for 30+ points themselves. -JA



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

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heels forever
3 years ago

tar heels win it all baby

Dan's Cone
3 years ago

Thank you Braden for FINALLY not sleeping on Virginia 🙄 the Desorbo Effect™ cannot be denied!!!! Thank you for learning

ACC fan
3 years ago

Why won’t Hansen be on USCs relays?

Joel Lin
3 years ago

Has an ACC team, women or men, ever won an NCAA? Been a NCAA runner up?

Not to my memory, but I ask.

2 Cents
Reply to  Jared Anderson
3 years ago

Correct. Highest women’s finish is 3rd by 1982 Tarheels, and best for men is 4th (NC State in recent years multiple times. The women do have 6 top 5 finishes, including 2 from Clemson.

Lane 8
3 years ago

Stanford has just been swimming too poorly this season. I just don’t think they can win it. Will be a great battle for the title.
OSU seems built for conference not NCAAs. A ton of depth. Maybe they are focusing on B1G’s again. But they are swimming very well. They can probably get top 20, right.

Reply to  Lane 8
3 years ago

Stanford trains during the season without rest. They train for the big one… NCAA… they will show up.
Should be a great race!

Old Swimmer
3 years ago

I would like to see Tennessee or Virginia win. Virginia would be more likely, though

Lane 8
Reply to  Old Swimmer
3 years ago

Yeah, you know how Tennessee shows up…

Reply to  Old Swimmer
3 years ago

Has anyone else noticed how the Vols have gone radio silent since SECs? No twitter news about who/how many NCAA invites they have, no training pics etc. I think everyone is underestimating them again (perhaps deservedly given past year’s results). I don’t believe they were tapered for SECs and think we will be very surprised!

Reply to  Justanarp
3 years ago


3 years ago

Stanford looked weak (for Stanford standards) at PAC-12’s. They graduated a bunch of stars and they don’t have two of their best swimmers (Ruck and Byrnes). That might hurt them in scoring, especially in relays without Ruck. I just don’t think they have the firepower to win this year. Cal should win but that may largely depend on Weitzel’s health. Tennessee and Auburn have strong relays but probably not the same depth as Cal. I think VA and NCSU could be the spoilers and their fates will largely rest in the hands of their relays and top guns. Should be very competitive unless one team swims crazy fast.

3 years ago

Could someone please explain how the CSCAA dual meet poll is generated? Is it just points from votes, like an AP sportswriters college basketball or football poll? Or is there something more algorithmic to it, like who would beat whom in head-to-head matchups of hypothetical dual meets (or real meets where they have happened) based on times-to-date posted by each teams’ swimmers. Or something altogether different. I swam in college back in the day; and my coach was a voter, and i never really believed the polls they generated.

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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