2022 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 2018 did after four NCAA seasons. Now it’s time to look back at a more recent recruit ranking: the current year’s freshmen:

Relevant links:

Naturally, this analysis has a far smaller sample size than the lookback of how the class of 2018 fared over their entire career, 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.

TOP 20 RANKED RECRUITS

HM=Honorable mention

Rank Name College Team Total NCAA Points
2022 NCAA Points
1 Torri Huske Stanford 43 43
2 Gretchen Walsh Virginia 54 54
3 Grace Sheble NC State 1 1
4 Letitia Sim Michigan 7 7
5 Samantha Tadder Stanford 0 no invite
6 Paige McKenna Wisconsin 33 33
7 Mariah Denigan Indiana 0 0
8 Ellie Waldrep Auburn 0 0
9 Josephine Fuller Tennessee 0 0
10 Rachel Stege Georgia 0 0
11 Annabel Crush NC State 0 0
12 Lindsay Flynn Michigan 6 6
13 Brooke Zettel Florida (VT) 0
transfer/did not compete
14 Ashley Strouse Northwestern 0 no invite
15 Mia Kragh Cal 0 0
16 Mackenzie McConagha Wisconsin 2 2
17 Ella Bathurst Virginia 0 0
18 Anna Shaw Stanford 0 0
19 Caroline Pennington Virginia (USC) 6 6
20 Amy Tang Stanford 0 no invite
HM Micayla Cronk Florida 0 no invite
HM Summer Smith Tennessee 0 0
HM Caroline Sheble NC State 0 no invite
HM Abby McCulloh Georgia 15 15
HM Madelyn Christman Notre Dame 0 no invite
HM Lexie Mulvihill Auburn 0 0
HM Mia Abruzzo Georgia 0 0
HM Malia Rausch Ohio State 0 no invite

The hits:

  • Gretchen Walsh had an unbelievable freshman year at UVA after falling from #1 to #2 in the re-rank. Walsh won an individual title in the 100 free, was second in both the 50 free and 100 back, and contributed on four winning relays as she scored 54 points to help the Cavaliers defend thier NCAA title.
  • Walsh’s total eclipses the highest freshman marks we saw last season, where Phoebe Bacon scored 51 points and Walsh’s sister Alex put up 48.
  • Torri Huske came into college riding a ton of momentum and followed through with a very impressive season for Stanford that included a pair of runner-up finishes in the 100 fly and 200 IM. After failing to advance to the ‘A’ final of the 100 free, Huske touched first in the consolation final in a time that would’ve been fourth in the big heat.
  • Paige McKenna joined Walsh in winning an NCAA title as a freshman this season, dropping six and a half seconds from her best time to win the 1650 free by … six and a half seconds in 15:40.84. Prior to going 15:47 to win the Big Ten title in February, McKenna hadn’t lowered her PB in the event since March of 2019, which was part of the reason we only slotted her sixth in the class re-rank. She also won the B1G title in the 500 free and then made the NCAA final, placing sixth.
  • Georgia’s Abby McCulloh lowered her best time on three separate occasions in the 1650 during the season, culminating with a 15:49.87 at NCAAs to finish fifth overall. McCulloh also cracked 4:40 for the first time in the 500 free at the mid-season Georgia Tech Invite before earning a second swim and placing 16th at NCAAs.
  • Letitia Sim was easily the classes’ top breaststroker coming out of high school and swam best times in both races at NCAAs, taking 10th in the 100 and 18th in the 200 breast. Her Michigan teammate Lindsay Flynn also had an impressive season for the Wolverines, including scoring six points in the ultra-competitive 100 free.

The misses:

  • #3 Grace Sheble shouldn’t necessarily be categorized in the misses category, as she did have a strong ACC Championship performance that included a third-place finish in the 400 IM and two more ‘A’ finals in the 200 fly and 200 IM. She managed to score at NCAAs in the 200 fly and had she matched her ACC time in the 400 IM, would’ve been ninth in prelims.
  • Stanford’s Samantha Tadder never seriously approached her best times all season for the Cardinal and didn’t earn an NCAA invite. Her highest finish was ninth (400 IM) at Pac-12s.
  • Recruits ranked seventh through 11th earned invites but didn’t score at NCAAs.
  • Besides Strouse, only two others* who ranked inside the top-20, Ashley Strouse and Amy Tang, didn’t earn NCAA invites. Strouse came into her first season at Northwestern with most of her primary best times having been set back in 2018, which resulted in a fall from #7 to #14 in the re-rank. She wasn’t able to reach those this season, with her highest Big Ten finish being a 13th in the 500 free. Tang swam on the Pac-12 winning 200 free relay with Stanford in February, but narrowly missed getting under the time required to qualify for NCAAs in the 50 and 100 free.
  • *The above does not include Brooke Zettel, who only swam two meets for Florida before announcing she was transferring to Virginia Tech next season.

UNRANKED RECRUITS

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

DOMESTIC:

Rank Name College Team 2022 NCAA Points
Anna Peplowski Indiana 7
Aurora Roghair Stanford 2
Early ’22 (#10) Rye Ulett Louisville 1
  • Anna Peplowski wan an absolute stud for Indiana, earning a pair of runner-up finishes individually at Big Tens in the 200 free and 200 back. She essentially matched her 200 free best to then take 10th in the 200 free at NCAAs.
  • Stanford’s Aurora Roghair hit lifetime bests in the 200, 500 and 1650 free at Pac-12s, and followed up by snagging 15th in the mile to score at NCAAs.
  • Rye Ulett was ranked 10th in our high school class of 2022 rankings, but joined Louisville early, the way Reilly Tiltmann did last season.

INTERNATIONAL:

Name College Team
2022 NCAA Points
Ellen Walshe Tennessee 23
Julia Mrozinski Tennessee 9
Leah Polonsky Cal 9
Dune Coetzee Georgia 8
Ching Hwee Gan Indiana 7
Christie Chue FIU 3
  • Ellen Walshe‘s NCAA point total doesn’t do justice to how incredible of a season she had for Tennessee, proving to be an all-around threat. This was highlighted by the Irish native winning back-to-back SEC titles in the 400 IM and 100 fly during the same session (following up by making the championship final at NCAAs in both races). While she wasn’t quite on the same form at nationals as she was at the conference championships (like her whole team), she’s a legitimate NCAA title threat in the future.
  • Another standout for Tennessee this year was Germany’s Julia Mrozinski, who, at 22, was quite a few years older than those coming straight out of high school (like many international recruits). Like Walshe, her best times of the season came at SECs, including winning the 500 free, and although she ended up adding at NCAAs, she still placed ninth in the 500. Her SEC time (4:35.95) would’ve been .03 outside of third.
  • Israeli native Leah Polonsky scored in both IMs for Cal, South Africa’s Dune Coetzee put up some freestyle points for UGA, and Singapore natives Ching Hwee Gan (1650 free) and Christie Chue (200 breast) put points up for Indiana and FIU, respectively.

DIVING:

Name College Team
2022 NCAA Points
Hailey Hernandez Texas 26
Margo O’Meara Duke 14
  • U.S. Olympian Hailey Hernandez proved to be an invaluable asset for the Texas Longhorns, scoring 26 points to help the team edge out Stanford by 6.5 points and finish second in the team race.

OTHER FRESHMAN SCORERS

There were a few other swimmers officially classified as freshmen this season who didn’t come from this high school class.

Stanford’s Regan SmithLillie Nordmann and Virginia’s Emma Weyant all deferred enrollment last season, so they were competing as freshmen but come from the high school class of 2020. The same goes for Canadian native Avery Wiseman, who swam for Alabama.

UVA’s Reilly Tiltmann was in this high school class but joined the Cavaliers a semester early and competed at the 2021 NCAAs. The results list her as a freshman, but she’s burned two years of eligibility.

Texas’ Erica Sullivan was a freshman this season but came out of the high school class of 2018, where she was ranked fifth and committed to swim for USC. Sullivan deferred a few years, won an Olympic medal, and then joined Texas and scored 33 points. (Despite only swimming in one NCAA meet, that point total still ranked Sullivan fifth among the class of 2018 over the last four seasons.)

ARCHIVES: REVISITING RECRUIT RANKS

ANALYSIS AS OF: SPRING 2022 SPRING 2021 SPRING 2020 SPRING 2019 SPRING 2018 SPRING 2017
Class of 2021
After Freshman Year
Class of 2020 After Sophomore Year
Class of 2019 After Junior Year After Sophomore Year
Class of 2018 After Senior Year After Junior Year After Sophomore Year
Class of 2017 After Senior Year After Junior Year After Sophomore Year
Class of 2016 After Senior Year
Class of 2015
Class of 2014
Class of 2013

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Coachy
2 months ago

club coaches > college coaches

SwimMomx2
2 months ago

It might be time to retire these articles, since SwimSwam can’t seem to just put out an article without having people who have nothing better to do than bash swimmers who didn’t “live up to expectations.”

This was the fastest NCAA meet ever! Just earning a spot at NCAAs is a true win for any freshman. For others, just getting through freshman year is a win.

It is possible that outside factors play into pool performance. Freshman year is a learning year for most. While most of the scorers on this list already had a relationship to the school (sibling on the team), team (former teammates on the team or within extreme close proximity to home) or coaching… Read more »

Swammer
Reply to  SwimMomx2
2 months ago

Swimmomx2 – stop trying to make swimming interesting and treat it like a real sport!
Also Siwmmomx2 – WHY ISN’T ESPN SHOWING SWIMMING EVERY NIGHT IN PRIMETIME!??!!

I would’ve killed for this kind of breakdown while I was swimming. We swam in anonymity.

Meeeee
2 months ago

For all of you digging on Michigan for transfers, etc…..as far as i can tell they are the only team in this list with 2 of their recruits scoring other than Virginia. Pretty good.

PK Doesn't Like His Long Name
2 months ago

Gonna keep harping on this because it was insane to me at the time and remains completely baffling-Michigan received the 5th most points from their freshman class after it was ranked 16th, and you could argue they underachieved. I still think acquiring 2 perfect relay pieces to fit in with the rest of your studs should be ranked a lot higher than a class of 8 honorable mention and lower swimmers.

Edit: 6th if you include the internationals, 7th if you include Sullivan, which I think both were included.

Last edited 2 months ago by PK Doesn't Like His Long Name
Nonrevhoofan
2 months ago

Every young woman will be included in her HS graduating classes’ summary accept Reilly Tiltmann. She plans to take 3 more years – count her as a Freshman (or just stick to your guns).

Dan
Reply to  Nonrevhoofan
2 months ago

She qualifies for a 5th year?

swimmerTX
Reply to  Nonrevhoofan
2 months ago

Izzy Ivey wasn’t included in hers either because she graduated early, and the same applies to Rye Ulett.

Dan
2 months ago

What was the reasoning for using the last ranking and not any of the first 2 rankings?

PancakeLover
Reply to  Dan
2 months ago

Because the last ranking is the ranking that is closest before they went off to school. Why compare rankings to their sophmore/junior year vs their senior year?

WestCoastRefugee
2 months ago

So Stanford recruits a swimmer (Tadder) that would have received an invite in 5-6 events based upon H.S. times but fails to get 1? Her best time in the 400IM would have made the B-final. Not to mention not even close to a best time the whole season, and didn’t even swim the mile, which she has a Senior Nats cut in. I’m sorry, but unless she is dealing with injury, or swimming has taken a back burner to academics (totally possible) that is not acceptable. If they are planning to win NCAA’s again, they need to glean way more production from a recruit like that.

Crank
Reply to  WestCoastRefugee
2 months ago

She had a major health issue so just stop already commenting on things you know nothing about.

Taa
Reply to  WestCoastRefugee
2 months ago

My theory is that Stanford tends to attract swimmers who have “High School Overachiever Syndrome”. They push themselves so hard in high school that swimming wise they don’t have anything more to give once they arrive on campus.

MCH
Reply to  Taa
2 months ago

That or the goal was to get into Stanford. Swimming was just the vehicle. See it all the time with the Ivy League.

LJaf
Reply to  Taa
2 months ago

Or maybe Stanford students are more than one-dimensional and attend the university to get more out of it than following a black line at the bottom of a hole filled with water. They attend to learn from some of the top professors in the world. To meet, learn from and work with future tech, political and social leaders such as Larry Page, Sergy Brin and Peter Thiel. They are immersed within the general population from day one and realize there is a big and exciting world out there outside of a swimming pool. Some of you on here may want to try that.

Taa
Reply to  LJaf
2 months ago

Nah I’m good I like to stare at my computer screen all day reading Swimswam and occasionally go swim an hour after work. I’ll let the millennials solve global warming

Marklewis
Reply to  WestCoastRefugee
2 months ago

Tadder wrote how her dream was to attend and swim at Stanford.

She didn’t come close to her HS times. She was improving every year, then she went to Stanford and she swam much much slower.

Sometimes the change in coaches and not being the star swimmer on the team leads to that result.

How do coaches handle the dilemma of the freshman disappointing season?

sam
Reply to  Marklewis
2 months ago

you understand how big change is it go from high school to university? or maybe she has some issues we will never know about? or maybe those times were achieved training her to ground and there is nothing left… who knows….. usually the coaches are the smallest problem in swimmer underperforming….

Sam Tadder
Reply to  WestCoastRefugee
2 months ago

Yea that isn’t what happened at all. A heart procedure and two months out of the water is the reason for that. I wasn’t allowed to exercise at all during most of the time. Please don’t bring Stanford into this it has nothing to do with them.

swimapologist
Reply to  Sam Tadder
2 months ago

Thanks Sam for sharing. This kind of context is always helpful and interesting to us swim fans. Best of luck in your recovery, and hope to see you in the pool again!

Mark Tadder
Reply to  WestCoastRefugee
2 months ago

I am Samantha’s father. She did have a significant medical issue and was unable to swim for an extended period of time. She had to have a 5 hour surgery on her first day of classes and in hindsight should have taken a medical redshirt. (Also was positive for covid in January and had to isolate off campus) I can assure you her love of the sport has not diminished and her drive to do well in her three remaining years at Stanford is intense. Samantha and I attended NCAAs and was so proud of how she handled herself cheering on her teammates. Also, the support she received from Greg, Tracey and her teammates was off the charts and as… Read more »

Cali4nia
Reply to  Mark Tadder
2 months ago

You sound like an amazing swim parent! A great example for the rest of us.

1st class lineman
2 months ago

Covid year athletes will have an impact on the scoring for this class for their entire NCAA career.

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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