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, Michael Hamann, Robert Gibbs and Andrew Mering contributed to this report.
The NCAA season is heating up as we enter a jam-packed two weeks of conference championship action.
The top of our women’s power rankings have essentially remained the same throughout the season, with Virginia, Stanford, NC State and Texas continuing to lead the way.
Over the last two months, Michigan has made a big move and vaults into the top-five, while Cal has notably fallen a few spots. Meanwhile, there have been a few shakeups beyond the top 10, with things destined to change once again when we reconvene prior to NCAAs.
Without further ado, here are our pre-conference Women’s NCAA Power Rankings.
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, Miami Hurricanes, LSU Tigers, Arkansas Razorbacks
#25: Auburn Tigers -3 (Previous Rank: 22)
The Auburn women looked very fast at their end-of-season invite. Meghan Lee is poised for a breakout season after not qualifying for NCAAs last year. The Tigers went season and lifetime bests, even before SECs. -BK
#24: Minnesota Golden Gophers -1 (Previous Rank: 23)
Sarah Bacon should be enough to get the Gophers into the top 25 again. -AM
#23: Texas A&M Aggies -2 (Previous Rank: 21)
The Aggies don’t appear to have shown their full hand yet. Chloe Stepanek is currently 17th in the NCAA in the 200 free with a 1:45.01. She’s been 1:42.89. The Aggies aren’t as good in diving as they’ve been in prior years, though Aimee Wilson should still be good for a few springboard points. -BK
#22: Pennsylvania Quakers +3 (Previous Rank: 25)
The NCAA’s latest recommendation indicates that Lia Thomas will swim at the NCAA Championships. If she’s there, she is projected to score big points. -BK
#21: Virginia Tech H20kies + (Previous Rank: Unranked)
#20: Arizona State Sun Devils -4 (Previous Rank: 16)
Despite a shocking dual meet loss to Arizona, ASU still has a dynamic freestyle duo of Emma Nordin and Erica Laning that should contribute both individually and in relays in March. –MH
#19: Northwestern Wildcats +5 (Previous Rank: 24)
Jasmine Nocentini’s 21.92 and Maddie Smith’s 22.06 flat start 50s last week is a huge boost for Northwestern and should give their relays scoring potential. -MH
#18: North Carolina Tar Heels +1 (Previous Rank: 19)
The North Carolina women locked up some NCAA bids in their meet against Duke. Remember that they’ve got a sophomore diver Aranza Vazeuz-Montano who will likely be the top scoring diver at NCAAs. -BK
#17: Florida Gators +1 (Previous Rank: 18)
The Gators have been pretty quiet this season, and frankly having them in the top 20 is purely a bet on Anthony Nesty being one of the best in the business and figuring it out during championship season. -MH
#16: Missouri Tigers +1 (Previous Rank: 17)
#15: Indiana Hoosiers – (Previous Rank: 15)
The loss of Emily Weiss to a medical retirement will hurt the Hoosiers at NCAAs, but they still have one of the best diving groups in the nation. Anne Fowler and Tarrin Gilliland should both pick up A-final points as sophomores, and senior Kristen Hayden had a big performance mid-season on 3-meter. -BK
#14: Wisconsin Badgers – (Previous Rank: 14)
Phoebe Bacon is an individual star and Paige McKenna should score individually, but the Badgers have some sneaky-good free relays that should contribute major points next month. -MH
#13: Kentucky Wildcats – (Previous Rank: 13)
#12: Georgia Bulldogs – (Previous Rank: 12)
The Dawgs swam Tennessee tough a couple of weeks ago, but outside of Hartmann don’t have the superstar to score 40+ individual points at NCAA’s needed to challenge for a top 6-7 finish. -MH
#11: USC Trojans -2 (Previous Rank: 9)
#10: Ohio State Buckeyes +1 (Previous Rank: 11)
#9: Louisville Cardinals +1 (Previous Rank: 10)
Coming into the season, I was thinking that Louisville was going to be sneaky-good. After invites, my confidence in them faltered a little, but with an energy boost from early enrollee Rye Ulett, who could score 40 or more points already, their stock is rising again. -BK
#8: Cal Golden Bears -3 (Previous Rank: 5)
California has a big-time 1-2 punch in Izzy Ivey and Isabelle Stadden, and a lot of depth that could step up – like senior Elise Garcia, who gives Cal much-needed relay depth on a breakout season. It feels wrong to have Cal this low, but it’s also not entirely clear where their big points will come from, unless Ivey rises to the challenge against very, very strong fields in her primary events against the likes of Torri Huske, Kate Douglass, the Walsh sisters, Regan Smith, and Maggie MacNeil. -BK
#7: Tennessee Volunteers -1 (Previous Rank: 6)
Thanks to transfers and 5th years, Tennessee is very deep. If Irish freshman Ellen Walshe can hold on to her mid-season form, the Tennessee women have an anchor to build around and scratch together points to go with her. -BK
Ellen Walshe continues to be a revelation for the Lady Vols and Julia Mrozinski has come on strong in the second semester. If Tennessee’s normally-strong diving program can deliver at NCAAs, the Lady Vols can contend for a trophy. -MH
#6: Alabama Crimson Tide +1 (Previous Rank: 7)
Rhyan White is the obvious star for the Crimson Tide, but it’s their unexpected depth that is buoying their rankings. Avery Wiseman is even better than advertised as a freshman in the breaststrokes, and the Tide have built legit relays. -BK
This team is deep and has a US Olympian in Ryhan White headlining the roster, but I’m hesitant to put a “buy” rating on Bama stock until we see how they perform at a championship meet under first-year head coach Margo Geer. -MH
#5: Michigan Wolverines +3 (Previous Rank: 8)
Maggie MacNeil’s speed at SC World’s should have every team on notice, but freshman breaststroker Letitia Sim hasn’t made much noise since going 59.0 in October. MacNeil’s supporting cast will determine how high the Wolverines finish. -MH
#4: TEXAS LONGHORNS – (PREVIOUS RANK: 4)
I’ve got Texas and NC State as a toss-up in swimming points right now, with Longhorn senior diver Paola Pineda as the tie-breaker. Both teams are deeper-than-expected, and they should have some good head-to-head showdowns at NCAAs – like in the women’s breaststrokes. -BK
#3: NC STATE WOLFPACK – (PREVIOUS RANK: 3)
Sophie Hansson was great at SC Worlds and Katherine Berkhoff is a star. The Wolfpack women are out to prove that last year’s runner-up finish was no fluke. -MH
#2: STANFORD CARDINAL – (PREVIOUS RANK: 2)
Stanford is starting to show some speed after beating Cal this weekend in their dual meet, and Allie Raab’s return should solidify the Cardinal medley relays behind Smith and Huske. -MH
#1: VIRGINIA CAVALIERS – (PREVIOUS RANK: 1)
Every time Virginia races, they seem more and more untouchable. Stanford has held their cards very close to their chests this year, but unless they’re really saving something special for NCAAs, I don’t see them catching the Cavaliers. -BK