It’s that time of the year again. SwimSwam will be previewing the top 12 men’s and women’s teams (and then some) from the 2023 NCAA Championships. Follow along with the College Swimming Preview Channel. Want to read even more? Check out the latest edition of the SwimSwam magazine.
#4 INDIANA HOOSIERS
Over the years, we’ve gone back and forth on how to project points, ranging from largely subjective rankings to more data-based grading criteria based on ‘projected returning points.’ We like being as objective as possible, but we’re going to stick with the approach we’ve adopted post-Covid. The “stars” will rely heavily on what swimmers actually did last year, but we’ll also give credit to returning swimmers or freshmen who have posted times that would have scored last year.
Since we only profile the top 12 teams in this format, our grades are designed with that range in mind. In the grand scheme of college swimming and compared to all other college programs, top 12 NCAA programs would pretty much all grade well across the board. But in the interest of making these previews informative, our grading scale is tough – designed to show the tiers between the good stroke groups, the great ones, and the 2015 Texas fly group types.
- 5 star (★★★★★) – a rare, elite NCAA group projected to score 25+ points per event
- 4 star (★★★★) – a very, very good NCAA group projected to score 15-24 points per event
- 3 star (★★★) – a good NCAA group projected to score 5-14 points per event
- 2 star (★★) – a solid NCAA group projected to score 1-4 points per event
- 1 star (★) – an NCAA group that is projected to score no points per event, though that doesn’t mean it’s without potential scorers – they’ll just need to leapfrog some swimmers ahead of them to do it
We’ll grade each event discipline: sprint free (which we define to include all the relay-distance freestyle events, so 50, 100 and 200), distance free, IM, breaststroke, backstroke, butterfly and diving. Use these grades as a jumping-off point for discussion, rather than a reason to be angry.
Also, keep in mind that we are publishing many of these previews before teams have posted finalized rosters. We’re making our assessments based on the best information we have available at the time of publication, but we reserve the right to make changes after publication based on any new information that may emerge regarding rosters. If that does happen, we’ll make certain to note the change.
The Hoosiers are coming off a great 2022-2023 season in which they finished 4th at NCAAs, just five points short of 3rd-place Texas. Last year’s Indiana squad was well-rounded, seeing eight athletes score individually at NCAAs, six of which scored 30+ points.
Fifth-year diver Andrew Capobianco was once again a leader for Indiana, notching 37 points at NCAAs and winning the 3-meter title. He also came 2nd on 1-meter at NCAAs. Meanwhile, fellow fifth-year Van Mathias was critical for the Hoosiers in the pool, earning 35 points for the team. He came in 2nd in the 100 breast and 7th in the 100 free, also finishing 11th in the 50 free.
Leading last year’s team in points at NCAAs was senior Brendan Burns, who racked up 46 points. Burns won the 100 back title, while also taking 2nd in the 200 fly and winning the ‘B’ final of the 100 fly (9th overall).
IU also won the men’s Big Ten team title handily last year. The Hoosiers won a ton of individual conference titles this past year, including four of the five relays.
SPRINT FREE: ★★★
The Hoosiers lose their top sprinter from last year in Van Mathias, but this sprint group is still in good enough shape to score points in all three events at NCAAs. Mathias was great last season, swimming an 18.89 in the 50 free and 41.33 in the 100 free. He was also Indiana’s only swimmer to score in the 50 and 100 at NCAAs last season, taking 7th in the 100 free and 11th in the 50.
Despite the loss of Mathias, Indiana returns the rest of their sprint group. Gavin Wight was the #2 50 freestyler on the team last season, swimming 19.26, while Finn Brooks was 3rd at 19.36. Additionally, Rafael Miroslaw clocked 19.44 for 4th last season. They made up many of IU’s top 100 freestylers as well. Miroslaw was the 2nd-fastest 100 freestyler last season in 42.38, while Wight was 3rd in 42.75, and Brooks came in at 5th at 43.07. Tomer Frankel was #4 in 42.93.
While the returns are good for IU, the strength of its sprint group lies in two of its new additions. Firstly, Billy Cruz has transferred to Indiana to use his fifth year of NCAA eligibility granted due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Cruz was an NJCAA champion prior to competing for USC more recently. He boasts a personal best of 19.10 in the 50 free, which is just off the 19.04 it took to qualify for the ‘B’ final at NCAAs last season. Cruz isn’t quite as fast in the 100, where he has a personal best of 43.33, but there’s always the possibility he has a breakout in the event during his year of training with IU.
On top of Cruz, Indiana also picked up freshman sprinter in Mikkel Lee from Singapore. A SEA Games gold medalist, Lee has been as fast as 22.36 in the LCM 50 free. While it’s hard to project what LCM times will mean for someone who hasn’t raced yards before, it seems very much within the realm of possibility that Lee is in scoring range in the 50 free this season. Lee is also a fantastic 100 freestyler, having been as fast as 49.10 in the LCM 100 free.
Outside of the 50 and 100 free, Indiana also returns their top three 200 freestylers from last season. Miroslaw was the top Hoosier in the event last season, topping out at 1:32.10. He also went on to qualify for the ‘B’ final at NCAAs, finishing 13th. Frankel was the #2 200 freestyler at 1:34.24, while Kai Van Westering clocked 1:35.78 for the 3rd-fastest time on the team.
Indiana brings in some potentially great 200 freestylers with this freshmen class. Elliot Weisel has already been 1:36.99 in his career, a very quick time for an incoming freshman. Fellow freshman Dylan Smiley isn’t too far behind, boasting a personal best of 1:37.58.
There’s also the possibility that Ahmed Hafnaoui turns out to be a great 200 freestyler. Hafnaoui is primarily a distance swimmer, however, we expect him to be in the mix of swimmers contending for the 500 free title, so it’s not impossible that he could end up putting up a very fast 200 free as well.
DISTANCE FREE: ★★★★
Indiana’s distance free group features arguably the most exciting addition to the roster this year. That, of course, comes in the form of Ahmed Hafnaoui, the 20-year-old Tunisian phenom who just might turn NCAA distance swimming on its head this season. Hafnaoui has been training at IU for a year now, but his collegiate career is just getting underway now.
An Olympic and world champion, Hafnaoui is coming off an exceptional summer of LCM racing. At the 2023 World Championships in Fukuoka, Hafnaoui posted lifetime bests in the LCM 400 free (3:40.70), 800 free (7:37.00), and 1500 free (14:31.54), winning gold in the 800 and 1500 and earning silver in the 400. Not only were those terrific swims for Hafnaoui on a personal level, but they were also among the fastest in history. Hafnaoui is now the #2 performer all-time in the 1500 free, #3 in the 800, and #5 in the 400.
All that is to say Hafnaoui should probably be viewed as the favorite in the 1650 free this NCAA season, and he’s certainly among the contenders in the 500.
Outside of Hafnaoui, Indiana has a growing distance group with a fair bit to be excited about. Rising senior Warren Briggs is IU’s fastest returner in both the 500 free and 1650. Last year, Briggs topped out at 4:17.77 in the 500, while he posted a new career best of 14:56.97 in the mile. Meanwhile, rising junior Mason Carlton is coming off a great season in which he clocked career bests in the 500 (4:20.25) and 1650 (15:06.53).
The Hoosiers are also bringing in a group of freshmen who could really provide some excellent depth to this distance group. Leading the way is Elliot Weisel, who comes to Bloomington with a personal best of 4:20.33 in the 500 and 15:26.71 in the 1650. The tricky thing about Weisel is he’s an extremely versatile freestyler, which means we can’t know for sure going in that he’ll race the distance events at championship meets.
Incoming freshman Honza Zika is more of a pure distance swimmer, coming in with a 4:29.54 in the 500 and a 15:24.03 in the 1650.
Backstroke is an interesting discipline for Indiana because if fifth-year Brendan Burns were to swim both backstroke events at NCAAs, IU’s back group would be a 4-star group. However, Burns has elected to race the 200 fly over the 200 back in each of his three NCAA Championship appearances. Given that, we’re going to operate under the assumption that Burns won’t be racing the 200 back at NCAAs this year either.
Regardless, Burns is the defending NCAA champion in the 100 back, having won the event last year in 43.61. He comes into his final season with the Hoosiers as a top contender in the event once again. Gavin Wight is there to provide depth in the 100 back this season. Wight was the #2 100 backstroker on the team last year, clocking a career-best of 45.79. That time comes in just off the 45.54 it took to qualify for the ‘B’ final of the 100 back at NCAAs last season.
IU also returns their #2 200 backstroker from last season in Kai Van Westering (1:42.30). Van Westering is still a ways off what it took to score at NCAAs last year (1:40.75).
Freshman Max Cahill enters the fold with a personal best of 47.65 in the 100 back and 1:48.88 in the 200.
As always, Indiana has a formidable breaststroke group. With the loss of Van Mathias, who was their fastest 100 breaststroker last season (50.57), the IU breast group is a little bit thin on the very top end, however, there’s a monster amount of depth in this group.
Leading the way in the Indiana breast group this season is rising junior Josh Matheny. The top 200 breaststroker on the team last season (1:50.12), Matheny is also IU’s fastest-returning 100 breaststroker (50.99). At NCAAs last season, Matheny notched a 4th-place finish in the 200 breast and 9th in the 100, totaling 24 points.
Matheny is primed to be a significant point contributor again this season, though he’s Indiana’s only returning scorer from last year. That’s not to say they weren’t close to having more swimmers score at NCAAs, because they surely were. Jassen Yep came 17th in the prelims of the 200 breast last season, making him the first swimmer out of finals. On top of that, Max Reich took 21st in the 200 breast, finishing less than a second off the time it took to advance to the ‘B’ final. They had a near miss in the 100 breast as well, where Yep took 21st in prelims.
With Yep and Reich returning, Indiana has the potential to move up into the 4-star range this season. They’re helped by the return of Luke Barr, who was 52.68 in the 100 breast last season and 1:54.28 in the 200.
Incoming freshman Toby Barnett enters the NCAA with some serious speed in the 200 breast. He’s been as fast as 1:55.86 in the 200 breast, which is a very fast time for an incoming freshman. Additionally, Barnett has a PB of 54.22 in the 100, though it seems much more likely he swims the 400 IM than the 100 breast on day 3 of championship meets.
Indiana’s fly group is probably the strongest aspect of their team this year in the pool. The Hoosiers return both Brendan Burns and Tomer Frankel from last season, which is critical because the duo combined to score 25 points in the 100 fly and 31 points in the 200 fly at NCAAs last year. That in itself is enough to boost this fly group into 5-star territory, but there’s more potential with the IU fly group.
Before we go further, as we covered in the backstroke section, we need to take into account that there’s some chance Burns would opt to swim the 200 back over the 200 fly. For the purposes of this preview, we’re operating on the assumption Burns will stick with his event lineup from last season (especially considering he was the 2022 NCAA champion in the 200 fly).
Also returning to the roster for IU is rising junior Finn Brooks. Brooks was the 3rd-fastest Hoosier in the 100 fly last season, clocking a 45.40 at Big Tens. He would go on to race the event at NCAAs, where he finished 22nd in prelims with a 45.45. That puts Brooks just outside of what it took to score in the event last year.
It comes as no surprise that with the massive influx of new swimmers this season, Indiana is adding in some more depth for the fly group as well. Freshman Dylan Smiley brings a 1:46.25 200 fly to the table, which is a very solid starting point for an incoming freshman. It’s not a given that Smiley will race the 200 fly, however, as it’s also possible the 100 free ends up being his Day 4 event.
Another incoming freshman, Max Cahill, boasts personal bests of 47.65 in the 100 fly and 1:46.06 in the 200 fly. Ryder Androsky is joining the team with a career-best of 48.58 in the 100 fly, adding to the depth as well.
Then, there’s Mikkel Lee, the incoming freshman from Singapore. Lee is a very fast LCM 50 flyer, boasting a personal best of 23.42. Interestingly, Lee doesn’t seem to race the 100 fly very often, however, I think we can expect that to change quickly now that he’s at Indiana. With that much fly speed at his disposal, Lee could quickly turn into a star 100 flyer in the NCAA.
Though the IM is probably the weakest discipline in terms of NCAA scoring on this Indiana team, they have a lot of depth. Last season, Luke Barr led the team in the 200 IM at 1:43.14, while Mikey Calvillo was the top 400 IMer, coming in at 3:44.25. Barr is entering his junior year with IU, while Calvillo was a fifth-year last season and has since graduated.
With Calvillo out of the picture, Max Reich (3:46.80) is the top returner in the 400 IM from last season. Two other Hoosiers who were under 3:50 return to the roster this season in Lucas Piunti (3:47.41) and Tristan DeWitt (3:48.21). Meanwhile, in addition to Barr, two other swimmers who were under 1:45 in the 200 IM last season return as well. Tomer Frankel was the #2 Hoosier last year with a 1:44.57, while Jassen Yep was 3rd with a 1:44.99.
IU is adding quite a bit of depth to their IM group with this incoming freshmen class. Toby Barnett, SwimSwam’s #17 recruit in the class, comes to Bloomington with a lifetime best of 1:46.21 in the 200 IM and a sizzling 3:43.28 in the 400 IM. Not only does that mean Barnett would have led Indiana in the 400 IM last season, but he’s coming in with a time close to the 3:41.67 it took to make the ‘B’ final at NCAAs last year.
Additionally, Dylan Smiley, another incoming freshman, has been 1:47.53 in the 200 IM.
Though Andrew Capobianco was unquestionably one of the best divers in the NCAA last year and throughout his entire collegiate career, this Indiana diving squad is still in excellent shape despite his loss. The Hoosiers return Quinn Henninger and Carson Tyler, who combined for 67 points at NCAAs last season.
Henninger came in 3rd in both 3-meter and platform diving last year, while Tyler won platform. Additionally, Tyler came in 4th on 3-meter last year, also finishing just outside of advancing on 1-meter, where he was 20th in prelims.
On top of Henninger and Tyler representing two of the top 3-meter and platform divers in the NCAA currently, rising sophomore Max Weinrich showed a lot of promise last season as a freshman. Weinrich didn’t score at NCAAs last season, however, he did perform extremely well at Big Tens, earning a 5th-place finish on platform, 7th on 3-meter, and 9th on 1-meter. Keep in mind, three of the four divers who beat Weinrich on platform were Tyler, Henninger, and Capobianco. Weinrich did qualify for NCAAs last year, placing 24th on 1-meter, 27th on 3-meter, and 31st on platform.
Given how well Indiana has developed their divers under head diving coach Drew Johansen, it’s fair to say this Indiana diving group is very well positioned to be one of the best diving squads in the NCAA.
Off the bat, this could very well be a 5-star relay team. We’re erring on the more conservative side projection-wise, only because we need to see how the new swimmers on the team perform as Hoosiers before being able to definitively say the IU relays will be as good as last year.
Indiana was great on relays last season, taking 2nd in the 400 medley, 4th in the 800 free, 5th in the 200 medley, 6th in the 400 free, and 9th in the 200 free relays at the 2023 NCAA Championships. The loss of Van Mathias is really the only hurdle that needs to be cleared for IU this season. Mathias was on all but the 400 medley relay at NCAAs, providing legs that were critical to Indiana’s success.
It’s likely going to fall to Mikkel Lee and Billy Cruz to take up the mantle on the sprint free legs that Mathias was occupying. If they can approximate Mathias’ splits, Indiana’s relays should be just as good as last year’s.
In particular, the 400 medley looks to be in great shape right now. It’s the only relay that returns all four of the legs from last year. The 400 medley was also IU’s highest-scoring relay at NCAAs last season with 34 points. While IU returns all four of its legs from last year, defending 400 medley champion Florida loses their breaststroke leg. That opens up the door just a little bit for Indiana to potentially move up and take the title in that relay.
All things considered, Indiana is poised to potentially post top 8 finishes in all five relays this season.
Total Stars: 28/40
Although they lost two heavy hitters in Andrew Capobianco and Van Mathias, the Indiana men’s team is looking to be in great shape heading into the 2023-2024 season, thanks in large part to the 15 newcomers to the roster. Capobianco won the NCAA title in 3-meter last year, but the Hoosiers still have excellent depth in diving and will surely be one of the best diving squads in the country this season once again. Quinn Henninger and Carson Tyler both have the ability to score in all 3 diving events at NCAAs. Of course, Tyler is the defending NCAA champion in platform diving as well.
In the pool, Van Mathias represented Indiana’s top sprint freestyler and breaststroker last season. Though his shoes are tough to fill, it looks like Indiana should be able to do it. The addition of Mikkel Lee and Fifth Year transfer Billy Cruz should go a long way to replace Mathias in the sprint free events. While they don’t have anyone to replace Mathias in the 100 breast, Josh Matheny is more than capable of leading the Hoosier breaststroke squad to success this season.
Then, there’s the addition of Ahmed Hafnaoui, who is quite possibly the best distance freestyler in the world right now. He should be viewed as the favorite to win NCAAs in the 1650 free this season and should be competing for the title in the 500 as well.
Mikkel Lee also presents one of the most interesting freshmen to follow in the NCAA this season. Already having experienced success in high levels of LCM competition, Lee could quickly become a star sprinter in the NCAA.
Toby Barnett could also make a huge impact as a freshman this season. Most notably, Barnett joins the team with a personal best of 3:43.28 in the 400 IM, which signals that he could be an NCAA scorer in the event as early as this season.
Given all that, Indiana is arguably in even better shape this season than last, and another top-four finish should be in the books for the Hoosiers.
MEN’S PREVIEW INDEX:
|TEAM||SPRINT FREE||DISTANCE FREE||BACKSTROKE||BREASTSTROKE||BUTTERFLY||IM||DIVING||RELAYS||TOTAL STARS|
|# 4 Indiana Hoosiers||★★★||★★★★||★★★||★★★||★★★★★||★||★★★★★||★★★★||28/40|
|#5 NC State Wolfpack||★★★||★★★★||★★★½||★★||★★★★★||★★★||★||★★★★||25.5/40|
|#6 Florida Gators||★★★★||★★★||★★||★★★||★★★★||★★||★||★★★★★||24/40|
|#7 Tennessee Volunteers||★★★★||★||★★||★½||★★★||★★||★★★||★★★½||20/40|
|#8 Stanford Cardinal||★★||★★★||★★★||★★||★★★||★★★||★★★||★★★||22/40|
|#9 Virginia Tech Hokies||★★★||★||★★½||★★★||★★★||★★★||★||★★★½||20/40|
|#10 Auburn Tigers||★||★★||★★★½||★||★★||★||★||★★★½||15/40|
|#11 Ohio State Buckeyes||★★★||★★★||★||★||★||★||★★★★||★||15/40|
|#12 Georgia Bulldogs||★★||★★★★||★★★★||★||★||★★★||★||★★★||19/40|