2021-22 NCAA Women’s Power Rankings: Final Edition

Throughout the season, SwimSwam’s Power Rankings have ranged somewhere between the CSCAA-style dual meet rankings and a pure prediction of NCAA finish order. However, as these are the final rankings for the 2021-22 campaign prior to the NCAA Championships, the predictions are our final selections for how the team race will shake out this week in Atlanta.

Braden Keith, Robert Gibbs and Michael Hamann contributed to this report.

Previous Ranks:

The University of Virginia women have been the #1 team with a bullet all season long and really drove that home with some blistering ACC performances. The Cavaliers hold steady at the top, while we’ve moved some teams around inside the top 10 after seeing what happened at the conference championships.

The biggest mover overall was Minnesota, while Florida and Mizzou notably dropped a few spots in our power ranks.

These are our final predictions for NCAAs, so let us know which you picks you agree with and which ones you don’t in the comments below.

Also Receiving Votes: Auburn, LSU

#25: Florida State Seminoles + (Previous Rank: Unranked)

Neal Studd knows how to put together great sprint relays, and that’s starting to take hold with the Florida State women. Those relays are where most of their points will come from, though the Seminoles don’t have the diving they used to in order to support that. -BK

#24: Florida Gators -7 (Previous Rank: 17)

Florida had some big mid-season additions that I still don’t think we’ve seen peak yet. Ekaterina Nikonova, who has been 1:54.83 in the 200 free in short course meters, for example, should be a scorer, but is currently not seeded for any points. -BK

#23: Texas A&M Aggies – (Previous Rank: 23)

A&M’s Chloe Stepanek had a huge 1:42.40 personal best in the 200 free on the leadoff leg of A&M’s 800 free relay at SECs, but she couldn’t really get close to that again in the individual. My read is that this means she still has some time left to taper off. A&M doesn’t have the same diving as they did last year, but Aimee Wilson could pick up some points on 1 meter. -BK

#22: Virginia Tech H20kies -1 (Previous Rank: 21)

Emma Atkinson made school history last year and will be called upon to be a centerpiece on relays and contribute individually for the H20kies. -JS

#21: Arizona State Sun Devils -1 (Previous Rank: 20)

ASU could place quite a bit higher with a big performance from Emma Nordin, but she was off at Pac-12s, a meet she’s historically been lights out at. Of course this could be by design in an effort to peak for NCAAs, so we’ll have to wait and see. -JS

#20: Missouri Tigers -4 (Previous Rank: 16)

Sarah Thompson performed extremely well at NCAAs last year and will be relied upon heavily again this season as the only Mizzou swimmer seeded to score individually. She was third in the 50 free and 10th in the 100 back in 2021, and this season she’ll drop the 100 free for the 100 back/100 fly double. If she can second swims in all three events it will go a long way for the Tigers. Meredith Rees is on the cusp of scoring as well. -JS

#19: Pennsylvania Quakers +3 (Previous Rank: 22)

Lia Thomas‘ performances will determine where Penn ends up in the standings. She’s currently seeded for 43 points. -JS

#18: Minnesota Golden Gophers +6 (Previous Rank: 24)

Minnesota has Sarah Bacon, who is a good bet for 40 individual diving points after sweeping the springboards last year. Their relays have proven better-than-anticipated later in the year too. If Megan van Berkom performs well, Top 16 is realistic for the Gophers. -BK

#17: Northwestern Wildcats +2 (Previous Rank: 19)

Lola Mull dropped nearly 13 seconds in the mile at Big Tens, and that swim currently accounts for nearly a third of Northwestern’s projected individual points (via Swimulator). But they’ve still got six swimmers seeded to score, which puts them in a better position than some teams surrounding them who are more reliant on two or three athletes. -JS

#16: North Carolina Tar Heels +2 (Previous Rank: 18)

I think I can speak for most of us when I say that UNC’s 12th place finish at NCAAs last year was a surprise after COVID cost them half their roster for ACCs. This year, they have much more control over their training going into nationals, and they still have one of the best divers in the country in Aranza Vazquez. UNC should finish higher than their seeded 16th place, but if they really catch fire a top 10 finish doesn’t seem out of reach. -BK

#15: Indiana Hoosiers – (Previous Rank: 15)

The loss of Emily Weiss to a mid-season medical retirement really hurts Indiana’s well-roundedness, and that showed at Big Tens, especially in the medley relays. They still have some depth, though, with 5 or 6 individual swimmers who could score. -BK

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

Kentucky has finished worse-than-seed at each of the last three NCAA Championship meets. With Georgia and Louisville, two teams that I expect to outperform seed this year, nipping at their heels, a Wildcat slide seems inevitable. How far is up for debate. -BK

#13: Wisconsin Badgers +1 (Previous Rank: 14)

Paige McKenna was a revelation at Big Tens, and a similar showing would go a long way in solidifying Wisconsin’s placing at NCAAs. Phoebe Bacon is reliable to score, but her best events have gotten incredibly competitive at the top. -JS

#12: USC Trojans -1 (Previous Rank: 11)

Kaitlyn Dobler is in the hunt for some big breaststroke points, and the Trojans as a whole have continued to swim well throughout the season. Caroline Pennington has been a nice addition on distance free, and Calypso Sheridan has the capability of exceeding her current projections (seven points). -JS

#11: Georgia Bulldogs +1 (Previous Rank: 12)

The Georgia women are only seeded to score 14 relay points. They scored 82 relay points last year and didn’t lose that many legs to graduation. Expect the ‘Dawgs to vault up the rankings from 14th in seed scoring. -BK

#10: Louisville Cardinals -1 (Previous Rank: 9)

Louisville has improved at NCAAs more consistently than any team in recent memory. Jumping USC and Kentucky almost seems like a given. It will take something special, even by Louisville’s standards, to make up the gap on the likes of Cal, Michigan, or Ohio State, though. There’s a big gap between #9 and #10 in the standings. -BK

#9: Ohio State Buckeyes +1 (Previous Rank: 10)

A bunch of Ohio State’s swimmers stepped up and hit best times at Big Tens as the Buckeyes won the conference championship title last month. Amy Fulmer is riding high after some huge freestyle swims, while it will be the last go around for the veteran core led by Kristen Romano. Relays will play a huge factor in where they end up in the standings. -JS

#8: TENNESSEE VOLUNTEERS -1 (PREVIOUS RANK: 7)

Tennessee had a phenomenal showing en route to winning the title at SECs, but like OSU, that begs the question of how much they left in the tank for NCAAs. Freshman performance will be critical. -JS

#7: MICHIGAN WOLVERINES -2 (PREVIOUS RANK: 5)

Michigan has Maggie MacNeil, and she’s rightfully going to take most of the attention. But at NCAAs, the country is going to learn about the freshmen (Letitia Sim and Lindsay Flynn) who have dramatically improved the Wolverine relays. Olivia Carter faces a tough battle to repeat as champion in the 200 fly against the likes of Regan Smith and Alex Walsh-BK

#6: CAL GOLDEN BEARS +2 (PREVIOUS RANK: 8)

Cal returns their entire NCAA roster, save for one non-scoring diver, and yet are seeded to score less than half as many points as they were seeded to score last season. Cal just hasn’t looked right all year. So that either means they’re going to shock the heck out of us all and battle for a top 3 spot (they were 4th last year), or settle somewhere in the next grouping. I think they’ve gotta be better than their 9th seeding though. -BK

#5: ALABAMA CRIMSON TIDE +1 (PREVIOUS RANK: 6)

Alabama has the pieces to compete with Texas and NC State for 3rd place, but they missed their peak for NCAAs last year. In a tight battle, they can’t afford to do that this year. -BK

#4: NC STATE WOLFPACK -1 (PREVIOUS RANK: 3)

I think NC State has the better “puncher’s chance” of sneaking up and passing Stanford if the Cardinal don’t swim well, but I’ve picked them behind Texas because of Texas’ divers – diving tends to be more stable than swimming. The 3-4 order could really go either way though. -BK

#3: TEXAS LONGHORNS +1 (PREVIOUS RANK: 4)

The Texas men’s diving isn’t as good as it has been in past years, but the Texas women are as good as ever. The Longhorns’ finish is dependent on some big season bests among their distance group. -BK

#2: STANFORD CARDINAL – (PREVIOUS RANK: 2)

While Stanford is one superstar short of being able to compete with Virginia this year, they usually take care of business at NCAAs. There’s a pretty clear gap between them and the teams competing for 3rd, so the Cardinal should be safe for 2nd place. -BK

#1: VIRGINIA CAVALIERS – (PREVIOUS RANK: 1)

Aside from a COVID catastrophe or an early relay DQ, I don’t really see a pathway for anybody to pick off the Cavaliers. They’ve got a shot at maybe half the NCAA Records, though, so that should be a fun watch anyway. -BK

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Swammer12345
8 months ago

Would be interested in hearing the logic behind ranking ASU 20th when they came in behind UCLA and University of Arizona at Pac 12’s. In addition they lost to University of Arizona in a dual just before Pac 12’s. Yet none of those teams are even ranked at all according to your rankings.

Last edited 8 months ago by Swammer12345
Admin
Reply to  Swammer12345
8 months ago

We’re not picking dual meets or conference meets. We’re picking the NCAA Championship meet, which has a very different scoring system than either of those kinds of meets.

Emma Nordin is projected to easily outscore both UCLA and Arizona by herself at NCAAs. A single swimmer can be a huge bump at the NCAA Championships (see: Max McHugh at Minnesota).

Here are the CSCAA final dual meet rankings, which I think might be more aligned with what you’re looking for: https://swimswam.com/virginia-women-texas-men-hold-1-ranks-in-final-cscaa-dual-meet-poll/

Swammer12345
Reply to  Braden Keith
8 months ago

Makes sense. Thanks for the clarification.

Melanie
8 months ago

Ohio has Claire Pophal (former JR team member).

Miranda N.
Reply to  Melanie
8 months ago

I remember watching her at the 2018 OW JR Nationals. She is so poised with regard to her strategy. She held off that amazing field and did so well, getting 2nd. Such an amazing talent, she will be here for years to come.

Last edited 8 months ago by Miranda N.
swimmer
8 months ago

Texas at 3 sounds a little too high

Admin
Reply to  swimmer
8 months ago

I think Texas’ distance group can go +20 and they’ve got 60 points worth of divers.

Their diving impact is probably the equivalent of adding like a Brooke Forde to your roster. Texas + Brooke Forde feels very much like a 3-4 team to me. So Texas + great divers feels like a 3-4 team to me.

matt
8 months ago

virginia this year reminds me of 2017 texas men

Noah
8 months ago

Alabama ahead of Tennessee after Lady Vols killed everyone at SECs? Is there a big difference in their NCAA points ability v SEC points ability ?

Hannah
Reply to  Noah
8 months ago

Yes there is. NCAA needs only a couple stars, while SEC requires depth. Alabama has the former, Tennessee has the latter. Relays also matter more at NCAA and Alabama’s relays are more competitive nationally.

cynthia curran
Reply to  Hannah
8 months ago
I had to read the list aaian because i thought it unlranked Alabama, bu
cynthia curran
Reply to  cynthia curran
8 months ago

I mean unranked Alabama but it did include Alabama.

Admin
Reply to  Noah
8 months ago

Alabama is a much better NCAA team than SEC team. Tennessee is seeded about 50 points ahead of Alabama based on psychs. Neither team has historically done that well at NCAAs versus seed, but Tennessee, in years they go big at SECs, particularly struggles to hold their seed.

Tennessee has a pretty good springboard diver Grace Cable, Alabama has a really good platform diver Tanesha Lucoe.

Suffice to say, the numbers point to it being very close between those two teams. Ellen Walshe’s 400 IM/100 back double being tougher at NCAAs than SECs might wind up being the difference maker.

kazoo
Reply to  Braden Keith
8 months ago

You mean 100 Fly for Walshe. Yes, it was a brilliant double win at the SEC but will be much tougher in the NCAA. But I guess you go with your strengths….

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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