2021-2022 NCAA Women’s 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 our comments section.

Michael Hamann contributed to this report.

Previous Ranks:

The change in rankings from October to November was negligible with teams racing in the odd dual meet here and there, but after the mid-season invites in late November/early December, we have now have a much firmer grasp on the NCAA landscape heading into 2022.

On the women’s side, the top four spots remain the same, but we’ve seen some major shakeups in the middle. Check out our December power rankings below:

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.

Honorable Mentions: Arizona Wildcats, Purdue Boilermakers, Virginia Tech H2okies, Florida State Seminoles

#25: Pennsylvania Quakers + (Previous Rank: Unranked)

As long as Lia Thomas competes at NCAAs, you can’t keep the Quakers off the rankings.

#24: Northwestern Wildcats -4 (Previous Rank: 19)

#23: Minnesota Golden Gophers + (Previous Rank: Unranked)

Diving is a big part of Minnesota’s move into the top 25, and they’ve also had some strong showings from underclasswomen in the pool recently.

#22: Auburn Tigers +3 (Previous Rank: 25)

#21: Texas A&M Aggies -1 (Previous Rank: 20)

#20: Arkansas Razorbacks + (Previous Rank: Unranked)

#19: North Carolina Tar Heels -3 (Previous Rank: 16)

#18: Florida Gators -5 (Previous Rank: 13)

Talia Bates is great and the Zavaros twins return from Canada. Do the Gators have the speed to compete in the all-important relays?

#17: Missouri Tigers +1 (Previous Rank: 18)

#16: Arizona State Sun Devils +8 (Previous Rank: 24)

Emma Nordin remains one of the top distance swimmers in the nation and teaming up with Molly Batchelor and Erica Laning, should provide some solid free relays.

#15: Indiana Hoosiers -1 (Previous Rank: 14)

#14: Wisconsin Badgers +3 (Previous Rank: 17)

Phoebe Bacon was sizzling at the Minnesota invite, while Iowa transfer Mallory Jump should give their medley relays a boost. Paige McKenna also is primed to score big points in the distance frees.

#13: Kentucky Wildcats -1 (Previous Rank: 12)

#12: Georgia Bulldogs -3 (Previous Rank: 9)

The Dawgs held their cards close to the vest at the GT invite, but Hartman and Fa’Amausili can show up in March. This team’s ceiling will be determined by its talented freshman class.

#11: Ohio State Buckeyes -1 (Previous Rank: 10)

#10: Louisville Cardinals +1 (Previous Rank: 11)

The Cardinals were hit hard with illness around invite season so it’s tough to get a read on where they are compared to the rest of the NCAA.

#9: USC Trojans +6 (Previous Rank: 15)

We know Dobler is great and Calypso Sheridan has scored major NCAA points in the past. Lea Maurer also has the chops to steer this team amid some turmoil with the head coach, while freshman Marlene Kahler is another huge factor in their success.

#8: Michigan Wolverines -2 (Previous Rank: 6)

MacNeil and Carter remain favorites for individual titles, but how the freshmen stack up against the country’s best is still TBD.

#7: Alabama Crimson Tide +1 (Previous Rank: 8)

Alabama impressed in Margo Geer’s first major meet as head coach and gets a big jump up the rankings, but I’m waiting until SECs to change my ‘Bama stock rating to “strong buy.”

#6: Tennessee Volunteers +1 (Previous Rank: 7)

This might be the deepest team that Kredich has had in Knoxville. They don’t have the Erika Brown-esque “ringer,” but there’s a slew of potential NCAA scorers all across this roster.

#5: Cal Golden Bears – (Previous Rank: 5)

Maybe haven’t performed up to the this ranking thus far, but the Bears have enough talent and experience (especially on relays) to keep them in the top five.

#4: Texas Longhorns – (Previous Rank: 4)

#3: NC State Wolfpack – (Previous Rank: 3)

#2: Stanford Cardinal – (Previous Rank: 2)

Meehan’s teams historically swim much faster in March than November, but a big question looms: Who swims breaststroke? With Bartel’s retirement and Raab barely racing mid-season, that’s the glaring hole in an otherwise strong roster.

#1: Virginia Cavaliers – (Previous Rank: 1)

Still the clear favorites at NCAAs against Stanford. In our Week 1 invite “mashup,” scoring out a hypothetical NCAA championship meet with all teams that were competing, the Cavs outscored the Cardinal despite the absence of Gretchen Walsh.

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Every point counts
1 year ago

Lia Thomas/Penn will definitely be an unfair disruption to teams that have their best scoring opportunities in the events she swims.

Reply to  Every point counts
1 year ago

Explain to me how misgendering someone is at all productive to the conversation. Please.

1 year ago

Cal should be higher

Samuel Huntington
1 year ago

Still doubting the Michigan freshmen…They are legit.

Reply to  Samuel Huntington
1 year ago

Sim is legit AL prospect

Circle swim
1 year ago

1. Virginia
2. NC State
3. Stanford
4. Texas
5. Tennessee

Reply to  Circle swim
1 year ago

Put Cal at 5, Bama at 6, and UT at 7 and you’re good

1 year ago

NC State women should be wayyyy higher. I ran the numbers on it

Inside Smoke
Reply to  Dressel_42.8
1 year ago

Theres not enough spots for them to move “wayyyy” up unless they keep going and end in the men’s rankings

1 year ago

Any word on what’s happening with G. Walsh?

1 year ago

i think unless stanford fills that breaststroke hole, it is game over for them as ncaa champs. that is 2 indivudual events they may not score high in, as well as 2 relays which factor into scoring even more. doesnt matter if stanford has high class legs everywhere else; if your breaststroke leg is a second slower than the rest of the field, it doesnt look good for you. and i am not seeing any caeleb dressel type domination from any stanford legs either to pad that second gap

Ledecky will go 3:55 in Paris
1 year ago

“ As long as Lia Thomas competes at NCAAs, you can’t keep the Quakers off the rankings.” at this point y’all are fishing for controversy

Reply to  Ledecky will go 3:55 in Paris
1 year ago

i mean are they wrong? with what we know, Thomas will compete at NCAAs and is a triple contender.

Reply to  Pez
1 year ago

60 points would likely be close to top 20 finish in team standings

Reply to  PhillyMark
1 year ago

And that’s not taking into account the relay(s) she’ll likely drag into scoring position(s).

Coach Chackett
Reply to  HJones
1 year ago

Did you use ‘drag’ on purpose?

Frustrated Swimmer
Reply to  Ledecky will go 3:55 in Paris
1 year ago

How is Penn supposed to be brought into this list without controversy? The controversy exists.

Women’s bodies are amazing. We should not be forced to measure ourselves against bodies built with male physiology and built with testosterone in order to justify our representation and excellence. This is not social or societal respect and acceptance; this is physical and the disparities are obvious. Enough.

The transgender community is not the only one that faces obstacles and oppression. Women’s sports and women’s rights are young. Do not take our voices and representation away in another space to show us how much “better” it is to be built with qualities only men are born with. It is not equality, it is… Read more »

Reply to  Frustrated Swimmer
1 year ago

I’m a man and I stand with you. This is wrong but unfortunately I think the only thing that will stop it is a lawsuit by one of the women who gets left out of ncaas because of this.

Swim mom
Reply to  Swimfan
1 year ago

The lawsuit needs to happen before their conference. I’m 🙏🏾 that will happen!

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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