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.
#7 INDIANA HOOSIERS
Returning Fifth Years: Ashley Turak (7 NCAA points)
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.
Indiana posted a 2nd place finish at the 2023 Women’s Big Ten Championships, then went on to take 7th at NCAAs. It was overall a very good season for the Hoosiers, as we saw them address some holes in their roster that had existed for a few seasons, namely in the sprint free events. Fifth-year seniors Mac Looze and Noelle Peplowski were instrumental in the team’s success last year, combining for 156 points at Big Tens and 23 at NCAAs. Of note, Looze has since retired from the sport, while Peplowski is now on the Indiana coaching staff.
Some highlights of the season included sophomore Anna Peplowski winning Big Ten Swimmer of the Meet, thanks to her titles in the 200 free and 200 back, along with a 2nd-place finish in the 100 back. On top of that, junior Anne Fowler won Diver of the Meet honors at Big Tens after winning 1-meter and 3-meter, as well as posting a 7th-place finish on platform. In addition to the two conference titles Peplowski and Fowler each won, the Hoosiers claimed victory in the 200 breast (Noelle Peplowski) and 800 free relay (Anna Peplowski, Ching Hwee Gan, Mac Looze, Kristina Paegle) at Big Tens.
At NCAAs, the Hoosiers were highlighted by a 2nd-place finish from Fowler in 3-meter diving, as well as a 2nd-place finish from Ching Hwee Gan in the 1650 free.
SPRINT FREE: ★★★
The core of this sprint free group, which was much improved last season, remains intact, thanks in large part to Ashley Turak opting to use her fifth year of eligibility. Turak had the best season of her college career last year, earning 7 points at NCAAs thanks to a 10th-place finish in the 50 free.
Turak makes a great duo with Kristina Paegle, who was a freshman last season. Paegle, a local product, made an immediate impact for the Hoosiers. She led the team in the 100 free last season, posting a personal best of 47.99. She scored 9 points at NCAAs last season, qualifying for the ‘B’ final of the 50 free and 100 free.
Outside of Turak and Paegle in the 50 and 100, IU will also see the return of Big Ten Swimmer of the Meet Anna Peplowski for her junior year. Peplowski won the 200 free at Big Tens last year, going on to take 6th in the event at NCAAs. Peplowski is also coming off a summer in which she earned a silver medal at the 2023 World Championships after competing on the preliminary 800 free relay for the U.S. women.
Indiana has a chance to have more depth in the 200 free this season than last as well. Ella Ristic was their 2nd-fastest 200 freestyler last season, clocking a season best of 1:45.45. Ristic has been as fast as 1:44.77 in the event, which is just off what it would take to score at NCAAs. Additionally, Paegle went 1:46.20 last season as a freshman. It’s possible we see more improvement from Paegle in her sophomore season.
DISTANCE FREE: ★★★★
While Indiana is historically viewed as a great breaststroke and IM program, coming into this season it’s very possible that distance free is their strongest swimming discipline. As stated above, the Hoosiers had two All-Americans in the 1650 free last season, seeing Ching Hwee Gan take 2nd at NCAAs, while Mariah Denigan came in 7th. On top of the great NCAA finishes, both women swam lifetime bests in the event last season.
While IU doesn’t add any milers to the group, Gan and Denigan represent one of the most formidable pairs of milers in the NCAA right now.
While Indiana is slightly weaker in the 500 free, they’re still in a good place overall. Gan came in 7th in the 500 at NCAAs last season, giving the Hoosiers a returning All-American. Denigan went 4:40.52 last season, while sophomore Elyse Heiser swam 4:41.48 and Ristic clocked a 4:44.44. Ristic in particular is one to watch for after she swam a lifetime best of 4:16.38 in the LCM 400 free over the summer.
Backstroke is certainly a weak spot for Indiana right now, especially in terms of depth. The only scoring backstroke swim they had at NCAAs last season was Anna Peplowski in the 200 back. Peplowski swam a career-best of 1:51.32 at NCAAs, which put her 9th in prelims before she touched 1st for 9th overall in the consols.
Freshman Mya DeWitt was the 2nd-fastest 200 backstroker on the team last year at 1:54.64. That time was good to earn her a spot in the ‘A’ final at Big Tens. As she enters her sophomore season, it’s totally possible more improvement is on the horizon for DeWitt, however, it took a 1:52.76 to qualify for the ‘B’ final in the event at NCAAs last season, so she’ll need to improve quite a bit to score there.
Kacey McKenna was the 2nd-fastest Hoosier in the 100 back last season, posting a season best of 52.82. That being said, McKenna was a bit off last season, as her career-best 100 back is a 51.93, which she swam at the 2022 Big Ten Champs when she was a freshman. McKenna swam lifetime bests in the LCM 50, 100, and 200 back over the summer, which is an encouraging sign for her heading into her junior season.
This Indiana breaststroke group is an interesting one. While the loss of Noelle Peplowski and Mac Looze is significant, especially in the 200 breast, this Indiana recruiting class is as classically IU as it could possibly be. It’s a small class, featuring only five swimmers. That being said, four out of the five are breaststrokers.
Brearna Crawford is IU’s fastest-returning breaststroker from last season. As a sophomore in the 2022-23 season, Crawford was IU’s #2 100 breaststroker, clocking a season best of 59.86, while she was 3rd in the 200 breast at 2:09.36. Of note, Crawford experienced a slight dip in her times last season, as she clocked her career bests in both breast events during her freshman season (2021-22). Crawford has been as fast as 59.32 in the 100 breast and 2:06.86 in the 200 breast.
Crawford represents the scoring potential of the Indiana breaststroke group as things stand right now. There’s quite a bit of potential in the freshmen class as well. Reese Tiltmann is a 1:02.92/2:13.75 breaststroker, Caroline Foltz is 1:01.83/2:14.54, and Olivia Roumph is 1:02.82/2:16.24.
The Hoosiers gained some solid depth in fly events last season, which marked a step in the right direction for their fly group. While last year’s fly group had some decent depth to it, Indiana still lacks the top-end speed they’ll need to score at NCAAs and have truly elite medley relays.
Indiana had six swimmers go 53-point in the 100 fly last season. They were led by junior Elizabeth Broshears, who swam a 53.36 at Big Tens. Behind Broshears were freshmen Sze Yeo (53.44) and Lily Hann (53.64). Another freshman, Katie Forrester, clocked the top time on the team in the 200 fly, swimming a 1:56.87 at Big Tens. Hann was 2nd in that event with a 1:57.91.
IU will be hoping that trio of freshmen will continue to improve, which could yield some NCAA qualifying times if it pans out. On top of that, incoming freshman Ava Whitaker gives them plenty of optimism that they can have their best fly performances in recent years.
Whitaker owns best times of 52.36 in the 100 fly and 1:57.04 in the 200 fly, with her 100 time within two-tenths of the 2023 NCAA cutline and the 200 just over a second shy.
The Indiana medley group has some promise heading into the 2023-24 season. We’ve given them a single star, however, this group could easily end up being scoring, though that’s largely dependent on the freshman class.
The Hoosiers will be rebuilding in this discipline after losing their two fastest 200 IMers from last season in Noelle Peplowski (1:55.37) and Mac Looze (1:56.32). IU retains Brearna Crawford, who was #3 on the team with a 1:58.97 last year, however, that time is still a few seconds off what it will take to score at NCAAs.
Looze was also the fastest 400 IMer on the team, having swum a season-best of 4:09.33. She was the only Hoosier under 4:10 in the event last season.
Reese Tiltmann joins the squad as one of the premier IMers in her high school class, owning a PB of 1:58.67 in the 200 IM, a very good time for an incoming freshman. She’s also been 4:11.11 in the 400 IM, just a second and a half outside of NCAA scoring range.
Indiana remains one of the premier diving programs in the NCAA. While their results from last season would probably put them in the 4-star category, Indiana should benefit in a huge way from the return of Tarrin Gilliland. Gilliland didn’t compete last season, and even without her, IU’s diving squad performed very well.
Gilliland was the NCAA champion in platform diving in her freshman and sophomore seasons. In her sophomore season, she was one of two divers in the NCAA to qualify for the ‘A’ final in all three diving events at NCAAs. In addition to her win in platform, Gilliland took 3rd in 3-meter and 8th in 1-meter.
Gilliland is a force by herself, however, she’s rejoining the likes of Anne Fowler and Skyler Liu, both of whom were ‘A’ finalists in an event at NCAAs last season. Fowler, the Big Ten Diver of the Meet last year, came in 2nd on 3-meter, while Liu took 4th on platform.
Of course, with this being an Olympic year, it’s possible there are Olympic redshirts we don’t yet know about, but given how things stand now, IU will have one of the best diving squads in the NCAA this season.
IU’s relays look to be in very good shape heading into this season. The Hoosiers posted top 8 finishes in all three free relays at NCAAs last season, as well as a 12th-place finish in the 200 medley relay. That’s relevant because IU is only losing three of the 20 relay legs from last season. Noelle Peplowski was the breaststroker on both medley relays and Mac Looze swam on the 800 free relay. Outside of that, every other leg from last year’s relays return.
Let’s start with the free relays, because 11/12 legs will return from last year. In terms of replacing Mac Looze on the 800 free relay, it shouldn’t be too tough for the Hoosiers. Looze split 1:45.23 on the anchor at NCAAs last season. Coming into this season, the obvious choice would be to put Ella Ristic, who swam a 1:45.45 flat-start last season and has a lifetime best of 1:44.77, on the relay. Given that, there’s reason to believe IU’s 800 free relay could be a little faster this season, which is highly encouraging since they finished 7th in the event last year.
Moving backward down the distances, Indiana took 6th in the 400 free relay at NCAAs last year. Anna Peplowski (48.46), Ella Ristic (48.79), Ashley Turak (47.94), and Kristina Paegle (47.20) swam a 3:12.39. All 4 legs return, which means we can expect Indiana’s 400 free relay to be right around where they were last year.
The 200 free relay saw Peplowski (22.13), Turak (21.43), Paegle (21.65) and Broshears (22.27) team up to swim a 1:27.48 for 8th at NCAAs. Once again, that whole relay returns, which means we can expect something similar this season.
The Indiana medley relays are much more interesting as we head into this season. We know they have strong lead-off and anchor legs, as either Anna Peplowski or Kacey McKenna will swim backstroke, and either Kristina Paegle or Ashely Turak will swim free. The loss of Noelle Peplowski on the breaststroke leg is a bit of a hit, however, Brearna Crawford should be able to pick up that torch. Peplowski was 26.96 on the 200 medley relay and 58.97 on the 400 at NCAAs last season. Given Crawford’s personal bests, they should be able to match, maybe even beat, those splits.
All of that being said, Indiana’s medley relays are in position to be improved from last year. The reason is that they should have much-improved fly legs. Last year at NCAAs, Broshears split 23.15 on the fly leg of the 200 medley relay and 52.58 on the 400 medley relay. Those were both great swims for Broshears, however, even so, Ava Whitaker joins the team this year with times that indicate they should be able to be even faster,
As things stand now, it’s very realistic that Indiana could post top-eight finishes in all five relays at NCAAs this season.
Total Stars: 22/40
Though Indiana lost two of their leaders from last year in Mac Looze and Noelle Peplowski, the Hoosiers are primed to be a little bit better this season than last. The presumed return of Tarrin Gilliland cannot be overstated, as she’s one of (if not the) best women’s divers in the NCAA currently. Her return will provide a huge boost to IU both at Big Tens and NCAAs.
In terms of returners, Big Ten Swimmer of the Year Anna Peplowski should be a leader in the pool once again for Indiana. An ‘A’ finalist in the 200 free and ‘B’ final winner in the 200 back at NCAAs last season, Peplowski is huge for IU both in her individual events and on relays.
Ching Hwee Gan was IU’s top scorer in the pool last year at NCAAs, having taken 2nd in the 1650 free and 7th in the 500. Coming off a great summer of LCM racing, Gan is primed for another great season.
Perhaps one of the biggest things Indiana has going for it this year is that they return nearly all of their legs from their relays at NCAAs last season. Between that and the possibility of improved medley relays, Indiana is in great shape relay-wise.
Given all of that, Indiana should once again compete for the Big Ten title this season, and they should be right there on the edge of a top-five finish at NCAAs after taking 7th this season.
WOMEN’S 2023-24 COLLEGE PREVIEW INDEX
|TEAM||SPRINT FREE||DISTANCE||BACKSTROKE||BREASTSTROKE||BUTTERFLY||IM||DIVING||RELAYS||TOTAL STARS|
|#7 Indiana Hoosiers||★★★||★★★★||★★||★★||★||★||★★★★★||★★★★||22/40|
|#8 Tennessee Volunteers||★★★||★★★★||★★★||★★★★||★★||★★||★||★★★||22/40|
|#9 Florida Gators||★★★||★★★★||★★||★★||★★||★★★★★||★||★★★★||23/40|
|#10 UNC Tar Heels||★||★||★★||★★||★★||★||★★★★||★★||15/40|
|#11 Cal Bears||★★||★★||★★★★||★||★★½||★★★½||★||★★★||19/40|
|#12 USC Trojans||★½||★★||★||★★★½||★★||★★||★★★||★★★||18/40|