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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2 years ago

From what I’ve heard, Bybee was sick prior to Pac12 and couldn’t travel to compete, thus no end of season for him.

2 years ago

Where’s my boy dirty Dean Farris?!

Reply to  iLikePsych
2 years ago

“current year’s freshmen” which does not include Dean Farris.

Reply to  CHMI
2 years ago


Reply to  iLikePsych
2 years ago


Reply to  iLikePsych
2 years ago

Farris has actually conquered time travel now . . .

tea rex
2 years ago

“McHugh has been on a tear with time drops, and had the best freshman year of any breaststroker in the history of NCAA swimming.”

Little Minnesota bias showing? Cordes and Hansen won titles as freshmen…

Reply to  tea rex
2 years ago

That statement leaves ambiguity, but I believe they meant timewise. No other freshman has been under 51 or 1:50

2 Cents
Reply to  tea rex
2 years ago

I agree with you. We cant always compare times from year to year. I think we would all agree Mark Spitz, Biondi, or Mary T etc are all in the top 10 or at least 20 of our sport…. their times do not come close to comparing with today’s athletes. We have to measure it by the current competition of their peers during their time. Take Babe Ruth for example…(extreme case I know)… do you really think he would even play in today’s major league?? Or that Wilt Chamberlain would be even an All-Star in today’s NBA??

So I agree and would argue that Cordes and Hansen had better freshman seasons than McHugh.

Ol' Longhorn
Reply to  2 Cents
2 years ago

Wilt? Yes. He was a phenomenal all-around athlete (track and field in the gym) who would have only been greater with today’s training methods. You can’t teach height. And he had the speed and leaping ability.

Reply to  tea rex
2 years ago

How about we just take a step back Tea Rex and recognize where McHugh’s times place him in NCAA history before pulling the biased card… I seem to recall Hansen and Cordes being called phenoms and yet you still seem to have difficulty in recognizing the historical significance here with McHugh? Cordes was 51.32 as a freshman and McHugh was 50.30. The times just speak for themselves. 200 breast same thing. Perhaps you and 2 Cents should get together alone and engage in the “Who is better?” debate rather than just realize that US Men’s Breaststroke has never been this competitive nationally. I’m not even trying to defend McHugh here, I’m just more so amazed that you and 2 Cents… Read more »

Reply to  perspective
2 years ago

So he had to race against fast people and swam fast?

So did a ton of swimmers at ncaas for men and women. (And at every fast meet around the world year round )

Tea rex
Reply to  perspective
2 years ago

McHugh had a great performance, no question. Let me just needle Jared a little.

2 years ago

I believe Cody Bybee was injured?

2 years ago

If I’m not mistaken, Cody Bybee got sick before Pac-12s which made him unable to swim there or at a last chance meet

2 years ago

You know it would be interesting to see a comparison of pre-college bests vs first-year best times to see who had the biggest time drops as a freshman for both the women’s and men’s top recruit list.

2 years ago

Arizona State had some cases of MONO among them. Last I heard, Cody Bybee had it the worse case out of anyone and that is why he was out.

Reply to  BigSwimGuy
2 years ago

That would help explain — kind of a bad look for ASU to have 3 of their top-20s with no NCAA invite.

2 years ago

IU freshman over preformed based on swimswams rankings. They do well developing talent.

Thought Kibler had a better year than Reese. Purely based on the eye test, kid was everywhere for Texas. Also McHugh might be the biggest freshman swimmer I have ever seen, kid is huge.

Reply to  Swammer
2 years ago

Yep, they either force them to get faster or they make them transfer elsewhere!

Reply to  CraigH
2 years ago

Some missing context, but alright man.

Speedy PG
Reply to  Jared Anderson
2 years ago

But Kibler is a better sprint freestyler which increases his relay value. Also Kibler is just a better swimmer overall. Whitley is somewhat more of a specialist.

Ol' Longhorn
Reply to  Speedy PG
2 years ago

RIght. Kibler is “just a better swimmer overall,” which is why he beat Whitley in the 200 IM. Wait … wut

Reply to  Jared Anderson
2 years ago

I’ll agree with that. Kibler swimming two prelims relays in addition stood out to me comparatively. Particularly the lead offs.

Really was just the eye test, purely looked better. Not that Reese had a bad year, 2 A finals is absolutely phenomenal and he was big for his team.

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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