2019 Men’s NCAAs: How Did Our Top 20 Recruits Perform as Freshmen?


We’ve already done a deep dive into our recruiting archives, looking at how the top 20 recruits from the high school class of 2015 did after four NCAA seasons. Now it’s time to look back at a more recent recruit ranking: the current year’s freshmen, whom we ranked in the spring of 2017, then re-ranked one year later after the close of their high school careers.

Relevant links:

Naturally, this analysis has a far smaller sample size than our reports from the past two days, so it’s much more difficult to read too much into these numbers. Still, it’s useful to look at which first-year NCAA swimmers had the best performances relative to their recruiting ranks.

The ranks listed below are from our re-rank last summer – they are not current ranks of NCAA athletes. We also do not rank international athletes as recruits, as it’s hard to predict if and when they’ll come to the U.S., and which class with which to include them.


HM=Honorable mention

Rank Name College Team Total NCAA Points 2019 NCAA Points
1 Reece Whitley Cal 29 29
2 Drew Kibler Texas 25 25
3 Alexei Sancov USC 0 no invite
4 Max McHugh Minnesota 33 33
5 Daniel Krueger Texas 15 15
6 Trey Freeman Florida 2 2
7 Cody Bybee Arizona State 0 no invite
8 Patrick Callan Michigan 7 7
9 Jack Levant Stanford 0
10 Daniel Roy Stanford 5 5
11 Kieran Smith Florida 25 25
12 Robert Finke Florida 5 5
13 Michael Brinegar Indiana 17 17
14 Matthew Willenbring Texas 0 0
15 Noah Henry Arizona State 0 no invite
16 Jason Park Texas 0 no invite
17 Danny Kovac Missouri 0 0
18 Khalil Fonder Arizona State 0 no invite
19 Andrew Abruzzo Georgia 0 0
20 Mason Gonzalez Stanford 0 no invite
HM Shaine Casas Texas A&M 10 10
HM Andrew Koustik Texas 0 0
HM Zach Brown NC State 0 no invite
HM Jack Dahlgren Missouri 0 0
HM Will Davis Florida 0 0
HM Jack Franzman Indiana 0 no invite
  • There was a lot of discussion at the time of our ranks about the battle for the #1 spot between Reece Whitley and Drew KiblerThat race is far from over, but ironically enough, neither was the top scorer as a freshman. That honor went to Minnesota breaststroker Max McHughwho was second in the 200 breast and 3rd in the 100 breast, ahead of Whitley in both. McHugh has been on a tear with time drops, and had the best freshman year of any breaststroker in the history of NCAA swimming, at least based on times.
  • Whitley did outscore Kibler individually, though you could still make an argument for either as the more impactful freshman. Both swam two finals relays, but Kibler did swim prelims of two other relays. Neither will really see his full relay value until later in his career, though, as it’s hard for freshmen to break into relay spots, especially on the two best and deepest rosters in college swimming.
  • One comment from our original ranks said then-#8 recruit Kieran Smith was “at least 20 places higher than he should be.” Smith responded by tying for 3rd in the class in individual points as a rookie. Good on ya, Kieran. Thanks for making us look smart.
  • It’s not easy for freshmen to earn NCAA invites, particularly on the men’s side. But we did have six of our top 20 not earn invites. The most surprising one was #3 Alexei Sancov, who was the last alternate not called in on the men’s side. #7 Cody Bybee is another name to watch out for: he didn’t even swim Pac-12s for Arizona State, though there’s no word on why he was out.


And of course, we’ll include everyone’s favorite part: which unranked recruits scored NCAA points as freshmen, both domestic up-and-comers and international prospects who competed as freshmen this year.

Name College Team Total NCAA Points 2019 NCAA Points
Zane Backes Indiana 14 14
Mikey Calvillo Indiana 7 7
Charlie Scheinfeld Texas 6 6
Mitchell Whyte Louisville 6 6
Raunak Khosla Princeton 6 6
Casey Storch Virginia 4 4
  • Zane Backes has had a really good two-year run. He was 54.3/2:02.6 in the breaststrokes when we first ranked. By the re-rank, he was 53.1/1:55.0 and pushing for a top 20 spot. This year, he went 51.3/1:53.7 for Indiana.
  • All of these guys had really notable drops as freshmen: Mikey Calvillo from 15:05 to 14:40 in the mile, Charlie Scheinfeld from 53.6 to 51.4 in the 100 breast, Mitchell Whyte from 1:46 to 1:40.2 in the 200 back, Raunak Khosla from 3:52 to 3:42 in the 400 IM and Casey Storch from 3:46 to 3:42 in the 400 IM.


Name College Team Total NCAA Points 2019 NCAA Points
David Schlicht Arizona 22 22
Nyls Korstanje NC State 9 9
Kacper Stokowksi Florida 9 9
Antani Ivanov Virginia Tech 5 5
Victor Johansson USC 3 3
  • The Australian David Schlicht was a great pickup, scoring in all three events, including a 6th-place showing in the 400 IM.

More recruiting rank analysis:



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ACC fan
5 years ago

Arizona State with 3 freshman in the top 15 and not one of them makes NCAA’S. Bowman may have been a good coach for Phelps but I’m not sure he is the man for this position.

Reply to  ACC fan
5 years ago

I agree. Definitely concerning.

Foreign Embassy
Reply to  ACC fan
5 years ago

Or college swimming, in general. Didn’t michigan have virtually the same kind of results before Bottom got there? He’s def one of the best long course coaches but maybe that doesn’t translate as well to yards and college swimming. Still wondering what happened to Cameron Craig after his breakout frosh season…

He Gets It Done Again
5 years ago

I’ll admit I was wrong, Kieran Smith is a stud. Probably even better in LCM too

5 years ago

Ranking them by points is a good but not complete measure. I would measure it also by percent time drop in key races, if any. Sometimes a wildly talented high schooler comes out able to score heavily at NCAAs in their junior or senior year. Points scored may not tell the whole story.

Reply to  Mikeh
5 years ago

Totally agree. Improvement over time says a lot. Points scored is affected by competition. What’s fast enough to get 3rd one year might be the winning time the following year…but time drops don’t lie. Which top ranked swimmers improved at their new school and by how much?

Mike T
5 years ago

Interesting to note that both Kibler and Kieran Smith put up stellar relay splits to contribute beyond their individual event points. Both are going to collect a lot of bling over the next 3 years. Also, too bad Kieran didn’t swim lead off for Florida’s 800 relay – his 1:31.6 200 free split would have translated to a NAG record (he’s still only 18..)

Reply to  Mike T
5 years ago

Kieran’s relay swim was amazing. But relay splits are relay splits. A flat start on the relay may or may not have been under the NAG of 1:32.18. I agree it would’ve been great to see.

5 years ago

A little off topic here, but swimmers and runners are effective physically a little different. An interesting article from the New York Times.

Reply to  anonymous
5 years ago

Sir, this is a Wendy’s drive-thru!

5 years ago

Kieran smith tied for 3rd, not 4th correct?

5 years ago

When you are doing points scored shouldn’t you include say 1/4 of relay points? When you are ranking these swimmers you are also ranking their relay potential. So even if a swimmer never scores an individual point but scores on 4-5 relays each NCAA that should be taken into account. Just a question/suggestion.

Reply to  Jared Anderson
5 years ago

Understood – just pointing out that it is included in the factor or your rankings for recruits is all. Believe me it is not a criticism just an observation and thanks for what you guys do!!!!

Youth Movement
Reply to  Jared Anderson
5 years ago

Hmm, I wonder if a sort by split time ranking would be a way? In a medley, compare against the other 15 finalists or 23 or so prelim swimmers in the stroke to see where their split sat or against the other 15 free lead offs or 45 non lead off splits in free relay finals. Not sure if it would be a pain to do, but that would give an empirical measure irrespective of rest of relay (ie. Dean Farris would come out looking like the beast he is). You guys do an amazing job pulling all this together. Thank you for that and for continuing to look for ways to do it even better.

PK Doesn't Like His Long Name
Reply to  Youth Movement
5 years ago

Something akin to this would be the right way to do it, or you’d do some sort of delta ranking above and below where the middle splits lie and accurately capture where they rank that way. But even with a proper measurement, there isn’t a way to account for the fact that a guy like Kibler would have been on basically every team’s 400 free relay except the one team he’s on, or like Backes would have been the breaststroker for anyone outside of Indiana/USC/Cal/Minny.

Reply to  Jared Anderson
5 years ago

maybe a separate Freshman relay score:
Freshmen swam in relay Prelim that get the team to B Final get 1 pt, A Final get 2 pt.
Freshmen swam in relay Final (A or B) get 1 pt. If the team improve in position (or maintain top position) and Freshmen swim faster in his/her leg (compare with oneself if swam prelim, or whoever Freshman replaced) get an additional point.
If team has no replacement option, thus Freshman must swim both prelim and final get an additional point.

In other word, freshman swam relay will get at least 1 point and up to 3 points, Freshman’s relay contribution give them 1-2 extra point if their swim improve replay result… Read more »

Reply to  Jared Anderson
5 years ago

I think if you were going to give points for relay contribution it can be simple. No points for prelim swims, whatever place the relay finished in final, you divide by 4 and that’s your points. So if you swam in the A relay and your team won, you get 10 points. If you’re good enough to be in A final it doesn’t matter if you have the fastest split or the slowest split, you deserve your 1/4 th points. With relays being worth as many points as they are it’s too big of a factor to not factor in.

Reply to  Longhorn
5 years ago

Lol Texas didn’t win the meet so they’re fighting HARD in the comments section to make sure that they win the ‘recruiting performance article.’

Always next year, y’all.

5 years ago

Unfortunate we didn’t get to see Levant at NCAAs. Does anyone know his health status for this summer? He is on the US roster for Worlds and WUGS

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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