2021 Women’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 2017 did after four NCAA seasons. Now it’s time to look back at a more recent recruit ranking: the current year’s freshmen, the first class we officially scouted from their sophomore years through their senior seasons of high school:

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.

As always, our notes on this data:

  • The data included is only individual scoring at NCAAs. That’s not an exact measure of an athlete’s contribution to a program: many of these swimmers (and others not listed) were relay scorers at NCAAs, scored significant points at conference meets and provided great leadership and culture-building for their programs. This data isn’t a perfect analysis of the best recruits – it’s merely a quick look at the data we can compile.
  • A college swimming career includes four years of eligibility, and sometimes more. Revisiting scoring after one year is an incomplete analysis of a swimmer’s career – this is not the final word on any of these prospects, and we will revisit this data over the next three seasons to get a more complete evaluation.

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 2021 NCAA Points
1 Regan Smith Stanford 0 defer
2 Alex Walsh Virginia 48 48
3 Phoebe Bacon Wisconsin 51 51
4 Olivia Bray Texas 30 30
5 Isabelle Stadden Cal 30 30
6 Lillie Nordmann Stanford 0 defer
7 Kaitlyn Dobler USC 23 23
8 Abby Arens NC State 0 0
9 Emma Sticklen Texas 18 18
10 Anna Keating Virginia 0 0
11 Emma Weyant Virginia 0 defer
12 Tristen Ulett Louisville 0 0
13 Abby Harter Virginia 18 18
14 Gabi Albiero Louisville 5 5
15 Janelle Rudolph Stanford 0 0
16 Chase Travis Virginia Tech 0 0
17 Kathryn Ackerman Michigan 12 12
18 Samantha Pearson Stanford 0 defer
19 Katherine Zenick Ohio State 0 0
20 Maxine Parker Georgia 10 10
HM Paige Hetrick Louisville 0 0
HM Emma Atkinson Virginia Tech 21 21
HM Isabel Gormley Stanford 0 0
HM Megan Deuel Notre Dame 0 0
HM Nicole Oliva Cal 0 no invite
HM Ella Ristic Indiana 0 0
HM Chloe Stepanek Texas A&M 26 26

The hits:

  • This class was touted as one of the best to ever come through the NCAA recruiting ranks, and boy did they deliver. Even with four really key top 20 swimmers deferring their enrollment, this group scored a huge amount of points at NCAAs as complete rookies.
  • Three athletes in this class have already won individual NCAA titles (Phoebe Bacon of Wisconsin; Alex Walsh of Virginia; Tarrin Gilliland of Indiana). One more (Emily Gantriis of Cal) has won a relay title.
  • Factoring out deferrals, we had 23 ranked or honorable mention swimmers compete as freshmen. 22 earned individual NCAA invites and 12 scored individual points.
  • Our entire top 7 scored big. Bacon is currently the class leader with 51 individual points. Walsh is close behind at 48.
  • Further down, two honorable mentions had great rookie years: Emma Atkinson scored 21 for Virginia Tech and Chloe Stepanek 26 for Texas A&M.

The misses:

  • There really weren’t many in this class. It’s not easy to score at NCAAs as a freshman, and only two of our top 10 recruits didn’t score individually. Both were breaststrokers, for what that’s worth. Keating was close, placing 18th in the 100 breast and 21st in the 200 breast. Arens would have scored in the 200 breast had she held up her time from ACCs. Arens also chipped in an 800 free relay leg on day 1, which is pretty good versatility for a breaststroker.


And of course, we’ll include everyone’s favorite part: which unranked recruits earned NCAA invites and projected to score points this season – both domestic up-and-comers and international pickups.


Rank Name College Team 2021 NCAA Points
Early ’21 (#12) Reilly Tiltmann Virginia 23
BOTR Lola Mull Northwestern 11
Maya Geringer Ohio State 3
BOTR Amanda Ray Florida 3
Sophie Housey Michigan 2.5
Anna Havens Rice Kentucky 1
  • Tiltmann was the #12 recruit in the high school class of 2021, but graduated early and joined the NCAA, the way former #1 recruit Izzy Ivey did a few years back. Tiltmann scored 23 points even as an extra-young freshman.
  • Two of these athletes were in our “best of the rest” (BOTR) ranks as of their senior years. Northwestern’s Mull had a top-8 finish in the 1650 as a freshman.


Name College Team 2021 NCAA Points
Mona McSharry Tennessee 31
Anna Elendt Texas 14
Emily Gantriis Cal 10
Amalie Mortensen Arizona 2.5
Yara Hierath NC State 1
  • Perhaps the additions of Mona McSharry and Anna Elendt contributed to our two top-10 ranked breaststrokers missing scoring. Both McSharry and Elendt were high-level breaststroke scorers as rookies in a class that scored a lot of breaststroke points.


Name College Team 2021 NCAA Points
Aranza Vazquez Montano UNC 47
Tarrin Gilliland Indiana 31
Emma Gullstrand Miami 24
Anne Fowler Indiana 15
Montserrat Lavenant LSU 9
Anna Bradescu Georgia Tech 2

Archives: Revisiting Recruit Ranks

Analysis as of: Spring 2021 Spring 2020 Spring 2019 Spring 2018 Spring 2017
Class of 2020 After Freshman Year
Class of 2019 After Sophomore Year After Freshman Year
Class of 2018 After Junior Year After Sophomore Year After Freshman Year
Class of 2017 After Senior Year After Junior Year After Sophomore Year After Freshman Year
Class of 2016 After Senior Year After Junior Year
Class of 2015 After Senior Year
Class of 2014 After Senior Year
Class of 2013 After Senior Year

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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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