2021-2022 NCAA Men’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 our comments section.

Braden Keith, Spencer Penland, Andrew Mering and Robert Gibbs contributed to this report.

The NCAA season is in full swing and we’ve got our first edition of the men’s power rankings.

While we’re in the final stages of our 2021-2022 College Swimming Previews, taking a deep dive into the top 12 teams from last season’s NCAA Championships, the first edition of our power rankings are a more up-to-date look at how we rank the top 20 programs nationally in the “preseason”—primarily based on roster outlook for the season, but a little weight based on how teams have swum thus far.

Also Read: 2021-2022 NCAA Women’s Power Rankings: First Edition

Honorable Mentions: Northwestern Wildcats USC Trojans, North Carolina Tar Heels, Kentucky Wildcats

#25: Minnesota Golden Gophers -4 (2021 NCAA Rank: 21)

While Max McHugh is still on the team, Minnesota will grab decent points at nationals. -AM

#24: Wisconsin Badgers +4 (2021 NCAA Rank: 28)

Iowa transfer Will Myhre and Turkish freshman Yigit Aslan give the team two new swimmers with NCAA scoring potential. -JS

#23: Purdue Boilermakers -6 (2021 NCAA Rank: 17)

Purdue loses U.S. Olympic diver Brandon Loschiavo, last season’s NCAA platform champion, but return two other top divers that also scored big NCAA points. -JS

#22: Florida State Seminoles +1 (2021 NCAA Rank: 23)

The case for Florida State this high is all about their relays. They return 19/20 of their relay legs and scored 30 relay points last year. -AM

#21: LSU Tigers -3 (2021 NCAA Rank: 18)

Brooks Curry is very much the straw that stirs LSU’s drink, and given his early-season swims, he’s setting up for a massive year. Getting a 5th year out of diver Juan Celaya-Hernandez means the Tigers return their two big guns from last season. Not a ton of upside here, but a new coach in Rick Bishop and some new energy should do the Tigers good. -JS

#20: Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets +1 (2021 NCAA Rank: 21)

A pair of international recruits could have NCAA scoring potential, and I’m pretty bullish on Batur Unlu taking the next step as a sophomore. -JS

#19: Tennessee Volunteers +1 (2021 NCAA Rank: 20)

The team has a lot of breaststroke and diving ability. Kayky Mota and Seth Bailey will be crucial to their success outside of those areas. -JS

#18: Arizona Wildcats -6 (2021 NCAA Rank: 12)

Brooks Fail is back, which is huge, but the David Schlicht loss is pretty brutal. -JS

#17: Texas A&M Aggies -7 (2021 NCAA Rank: 10)

It wasn’t just the departure of Shaine Casas, but the Aggies also lose Mark Theall and Tanner Olson. All three were relay fixtures, and Casas scored 60 individual points last season. The team will need to step up and collectively contribute. -JS

#16: Missouri Tigers – (2021 NCAA Rank: 16)

Danny KovacJack Dahlgren and Ben Patton looking great early on. The team very much lives and dies by the performances of those three come NCAAs. -JS

#15: Harvard Crimson (2021 NCAA Rank: N/A)

Back after a year off, with multi-time NCAA champion Dean Farris leading the charge.

#14: Alabama Crimson Tide +1 (2021 NCAA Rank: 15)

The fifth-ranked recruiting class lessens the blow of losing Matt King. They could rise or fall depending on how their international freshmen transition to yards. -JS

#13: Arizona State Sun Devils – (2021 NCAA Rank: N/A)

A sneaky-good roster that is flying under the radar given they haven’t competed in 20 months or so. Snagging David Schlicht from Arizona will pay dividends. -JS

#12: Michigan Wolverines +1 (2021 NCAA Rank: 13)

Losing Gus Borges stings, but the Wolverines brought in solid reinforcements including transfer Nik Eberly who can fill that relay void. Patrick Callan and Jake Mitchell come back after making the Olympic team, and Wyatt Davis and Will Chan started strong at the SMU Classic. -JS

#11: Stanford Cardinal +3 (2021 NCAA Rank: 14)

Stanford had 11 finishes last year by returning athletes that placed between 17th and 24th at nationals, the most of any team. That plus their elite addition of Minakov gives them a high ceiling. -AM

#10: Virginia Tech H2okies +1 (2021 NCAA Rank: 11)

I went back and forth on Virginia and Virginia Tech at #8 and #9. While Virginia has a better incoming freshman class, something as simple as Youssef Ramadan not getting DQ’ed at NCAAs would make a huge impact for the Hokies. -BK

#9: Virginia Cavaliers – (2021 NCAA Rank: 9)

Bringing in Matt King is going to make those already-strong relays even more lethal. They don’t yet have enough surefire A-final types to make the jump to the next tier, and the increased depth across the NCAA this year could make things even tighter, but they’re trending in the right direction. -RG

#8: Ohio State Buckeyes -1 (2021 NCAA Rank: 7)

Hunter Armstrong scored 4 points at NCAA’s last year. He also made the Olympic team this summer. It feels safe to assume he’ll score quite a few more this year. -AM

#7: Georgia Bulldogs -3 (2021 NCAA Rank: 4)

Georgia’s rankings is predicated on Matt Sates arriving on campus in the spring, and being as good in short course yards as we’ve seen him in short course meters. They’re still a top 10 team without him, but he is the backbone of their top 5 chances. -BK

#6: NC State Wolfpack +2 (2021 NCAA Rank: 8)

In our preview, we suggested that NC State could be putting together the pieces for a run at a top-two finish. That still feels a year or two off, but if the deep freshman class can click immediately, the Wolfpack should certainly be in the hunt for third this year. -RG

#5: Indiana Hoosiers +1 (2021 NCAA Rank: 6)

Indiana is returning all of their NCAA qualifiers from last year, and they’ve added potential star power with freshmen Josh Matheny, Luke Barr, and Rafael Miroslaw. It also should be noted that IU came in 6th at NCAAs last year without Bruno Blaskovic, their top sprinter. Blaskovic likely would have accounted for 25-30 points individually and would have made a significant difference in the Hoosiers’ relays. Andrew Capobianco continues to pose a massive scoring threat in diving, and IU pulled in freshman Quinn Henninger, who was an Olympic Trials finalist this past summer. -SP

#4: Louisville Cardinals +1 (2021 NCAA Rank: 5)

Louisville returns essentially everyone from last year, and they’ve added a brace of Olympians who’ve been 1:46 in the 200 free (LCM). It feels like NCAAs may be even more cutthroat this season, but the Cardinals should be in the thick of the “Not Cal or Texas But Really Really Good” tier once again. -RG

They return 19 of 20 legs from relays that scored 136 points last year. -AM

#3: Florida Gators – (2021 NCAA Rank: 3)

It’s not just the really big stars that have me feeling good about Florida at #3. It’s what we saw last year from guys like Dillon Hillis and Eric Friese. -RG

#2: Cal Golden Bears – (2021 NCAA Rank: 2)

Cal had an all-time great NCAA performance last season — and finished 2nd. They’re bringing back a few more 5th-year swimmer points than Texas, and Liam Bell is already looking to be in great form, providing additional breaststroke depth. With five months until NCAAs, there’s every indication that this will be yet another great Cal vs. Texas slugfest come March. -RG

#1: Texas Longhorns – (2021 NCAA Rank: 1)

No doubt – the defending champions lost of ton of senior points and experience. However, there are a few things in Texas’ favor. 1 – Returning fifth year Alvin Jiang and grad transfer Cameron Auchinachie will help stabilize the relays that otherwise had holes to fill. 2 – The Jordan Windle-led dive crew will score more points than most schools competing at NCAAs. 3 – They’ve got top-ten recruits in the form of Tim Connery, Anthony Grimm, and Luke Hobson. 4 – You’ve to figure that a few of the ten guys who got left home after qualifying for NCAAs will be able to score. 5. They still bring back 282 individual non-senior points on top of everything else we just said. -RG

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1 year ago

This year NCAAS will be super interesting, I really think that any of the teams from 4/5-10 is up for grabs depending on how they swim at NCAAs.

1 year ago

Don’t count out the Wolfpack! With Berkoff, Hanson, Alons, MacCausland, and Webb, it’s looking like they just might be able to break their own relay record… many options for these ladies!

I predict a Wolfpack medley relay sweep!🐺🐺

Reply to  TheBiggestSwimFan
1 year ago

Will they be sweeping Men’s NCAAs? Impressive.

Reply to  TheBiggestSwimFan
1 year ago

None of these swimmers will qualify for Mens NCAAs – they are way too slow! Even if any of them could they would be DQed for illegal suits.

James Beam
1 year ago

I don’t know much about diving, so forgive me if this is a dumb question. why does Cal struggle with diving? Is it the facility? Any thoughts? Have they ever had elite divers? One would think they would have a couple of divers every year in the running for All American.

Reply to  James Beam
1 year ago

Cal didn’t have a platform until their new facility opened a few years back. Prior to that, they’d use Stanford’s platform. So facility was part of it.

Maybe a little self-perpetuating, but in diving, coach reputation is a massive factor – even more than swimming. So, no facility, coach doesn’t build that requisite reputation (be that because of facility, or because of his abilities), don’t get the top recruits, etc. etc. Feedback loop.

They had a coach who I think could’ve made some waves, but he left before coaching a meet for “health reasons.”

The right coaches are out there, if the school wants to pay for them. I don’t get the impression that it’s particularly hard to lure away… Read more »

Reply to  Braden Keith
1 year ago

Another problem for Cal attracting top talent is the cost of living. A coach in Texas, with a family, can buy a decent home on a coaching salary. In California that is much more difficult.

James Beam
Reply to  TAK
1 year ago

great input from both of you. I wasn’t aware of the facility issue. The cost of living has to be insane for someone working at Cal.

Has to be frustrating for Durden and the team knowing they can pretty much outswim anyone at NC’s and lose because of diving.

Reply to  TAK
1 year ago

Okay. Another benefit is “quality of living” – the quality of life in California is better than Texas.

You can tell someone’s political leanings based on how often they bring this up. If you’re happy having your 6 bedroom house in the suburbs that’s 20 miles away from anything cultural, then sure, Texas is great.

But this whole “cost of living thing” isn’t the silver bullet you think it is. There are lots of people who accept the increased cost of living because it comes with benefits that they enjoy.

Stanford and USC have both attracted great diving coaches. Your move.

Unknown Swammer
Reply to  yahoos
1 year ago

I didn’t get the impression that they were saying it was the primary reason – just another factor to consider. And I’d also say that the drive time to cover 20 miles in Austin is only like 20 minutes…

Reply to  Unknown Swammer
1 year ago

Uhherrrrr, I’m not sure if you’ve ever been to Austin, but google “Austin worst traffic” and you’ll receive a very different set of information than your last paragraph lol.

Reply to  Braden Keith
1 year ago

So how come you put health reasons in quotation marks? Is there more to the story that what was reported?

Reply to  Sakibomb25
1 year ago

In journalism, we don’t use air quotes to indicate disbelief, we use it to indicate a direct quote.

Quoting is important in this case, because the explanation from the school is the only confirmation of that. We haven’t seen his medical records, and they weren’t specific about what the “health reasons” were. “Health reasons” can mean a wide range of things.

Reply to  yahoos
1 year ago

In a lot of ways, in the last ten years, Austin has become California.

Mr. Pack
Reply to  yahoos
1 year ago

QOL being better in California than Texas is purely subjective. Cost of living, however, is purely objective.

Canadian Swammer
Reply to  Mr. Pack
1 year ago

Agreed, and its not a political thing as yahoos said. As a Canadian I liked my time in San Antonio and Austin better than the Bay area. All cool towns tho.

Reply to  Braden Keith
1 year ago

Also, some divers don’t want to train outdoors, especially Northern California. I know Stanford has had success but many don’t want to be cold getting in and out.
Another reason, well known coaches want guaranteed scholarship amounts and is Durden willing to give up a share of their 9.9?!?! Elite divers want money just like swimmers!

1 year ago

no swims yet this year but don’t sleep on princeton men

Swimming Fan
1 year ago

I think with the assumption of Sates, and another great season for their underclass stars, UGA can easily be in the top 5.

1 year ago

Why they have the actual meet.

go noles
1 year ago

We may be a relay school but we’re the proudest relay school. Also we have the most fun in the ncaa

ur fav swim dad
1 year ago

texas is the epitome of mediocre swimming being carried by a dying sport…

Reply to  ur fav swim dad
1 year ago

Mediocre? Lol we understand they get help from diving but this is just about the dumbest thing I’ve seen here in a while and Hoosier Daddy and Yoznik exist

ur fav swim dad
Reply to  coachymccoachface
1 year ago

Hoosier Daddy is one of the brightest individuals ever created

Reply to  ur fav swim dad
1 year ago

dying opinion from a mediocre poster IMO

About James Sutherland

James Sutherland

James swam five years at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, specializing in the 200 free, back and IM. He finished up his collegiate swimming career in 2018, graduating with a bachelor's degree in economics. In 2019 he completed his graduate degree in sports journalism. Prior to going to Laurentian, James swam …

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