2024 NCAA Women’s Midseason Scoring Update: Virginia Leads, But It’s Close

The calendar has flipped and the 2024 NCAA Championships are less than three months away.

As swimming programs across the country are wrapping up a tough stretch of winter training, preparing for the run-up to conference championships and ultimately at NCAAs, it’s time for us to check in on where things stand regarding the team race at nationals.

Using the SwimSwam Swimulator, we can score out how an NCAA Championship meet would fare using times produced thus far in the 2023-24 season. See the results for the women’s meet below:

It’s important to note with all Swimulator results that diving is not included.

WOMEN’S NCAA SCORING – THROUGH MIDSEASON

Rank Team Score
1 Virginia, University of 423
2 Texas, University of 404.5
3 Florida, University of 337.5
4 University of Southern California 290.5
5 Ohio State University 216.5
6 Stanford University 214.5
7 Indiana University 207
8 North Carolina State University 191
9 Louisville, University of 153.5
10 Georgia, University of 151
11 Michigan, University of 133
12 California, University of, Berkeley 132
13 University of Tennessee 125
14 Wisconsin, University of, Madison 124.5
15 Arizona State University 71
16 Texas A&M University 60.5
17 Duke University 55.5
18 Auburn University 47
19 Arizona, University of 25
20 University of Minnesota 24
21 University of Alabama 23
22 University of Arkansas 17.5
23 Princeton University 17
24 University of Pennsylvania 14
25 Akron, University of 13
25 VA Tech 13
27 University of Miami (Florida) 11
27 Florida State University 11
29 University of California, Los Angeles 9
30 Pittsburgh, University of 8
31 Georgia Institute of Technology 7
32 Cincinnati, University of 6
32 Louisiana State University 6
34 Southern Illinois University-Carbondale (W) 5
34 San Diego State University 5
36 South Carolina, University of, Columbia 4.5
37 North Carolina, University of, Chapel Hill 4
38 Northwestern University 3.5
39 Miami University (Ohio) 3

As is no surprise, the reigning three-time champions from the University of Virginia come out on top in the scoring race with 423 points, but it’s a lot closer than we’ve seen in the last three seasons.

Across the 2021, 2022 and 2023 NCAA Championships, UVA won the women’s title by an average of 136.5 points, but at the midseason check-in, they’ve only got an 18.5-point buffer over the University of Texas.

And that’s just in swimming points. The Longhorns outscored the Cavaliers 49-0 in diving last season.

Is the Swimulator score a realistic outlook of how close the meet will be in March, or is it simply that Virginia hasn’t shown their full hand and will pull away from Texas and the rest of the field like they always do?

Looking back to this time last season, scoring projections had Texas leading the midseason scoring race, with Stanford 2.5 points back and Virginia a distant third, 60 points back of the Longhorns.

That comes with several caveats, such as Kate Douglass being projected to have two third-place finishes when in reality she swept her individual events, though that’s only an extra eight points.

The Cavaliers were also DQed in the 200 medley relay and didn’t race the 800 free relay at the 2022 Tennessee Invitational, so they were projected to get severely outpaced in the relays at NCAAs compared to Texas or Stanford, when in reality they went on to sweep all five when the chips were down.

(UVA also opted out of racing the 800 free relay at the 2023 Tennessee Invitational, so that’s another 40 points they could earn relative to the Swimulated score.)

Those are just two examples of why these numbers are merely a gauge of how teams have fared thus far in the season, and shouldn’t be used as a direct indicator of what they’ll do at NCAAs.

However, it does tell us what a team that has exceeded expectations thus far, such as USC, is capable of.

The Trojans were 12th at NCAAs last season, and they sit up in fourth in midseason scoring, with relays, on paper, keeping pace with Texas and outscoring Virginia and Florida. At the midpoint of last season, USC was 13th in Swimulated points.

For Virginia, the addition of transfer Jasmine Nocentini has helped offset the departure of Douglass, with Nocentini projected for 51 individual points, tied for second on the team with Alex Walsh.

Gretchen Walsh leads the way, of course, penciled in for 60 points on paper as the top-ranked swimmer in the 100 free, 100 back and 100 fly (also is #1 in the 50 free and 200 free).

The Cavaliers are also getting big contributions from Ella Nelson and Aimee Canny, but things drop off after that, and they may need some of the other swimmers to crack double-digits individually to secure a fourth straight title.

Texas is getting big Swimulator points from veterans Kelly PashEmma Sticklen and Olivia Bray, and freshmen Berit Berglund and Erin Gemmell are also in position to contribute in a big way.

We also can’t forget that Lydia Jacoby hasn’t raced yet collegiately, opting to redshirt the fall before joining the team for the postseason. The defending champion in the 100 breast, Jacoby scored 26 NCAA points last season for Texas.

Compared to last year’s NCAA results, Florida and USC represent the biggest jumps up the standings based on these projections, with the Gators having placed ninth in 2023 but currently ranking third. The addition of Bella Sims and Isabel Ivey gives them an elite duo at the top of their scoring rankings, not to mention providing a big boost to the relays.

USC has added grad senior Vasilissa Buinaia and freshman Minna Abraham to bolster their standing this season, coupled with the emergence of Justina Kozan who is having a strong season after a bounce-back summer.

Last season’s eighth-place team, Tennessee, ranks 13th at the midpoint, though they’re only eight points back of 11th-place Michigan.

The other team dropping from the top 10 in 2023 is UNC, which only has four points on the Swimulator scoreboard.

In terms of individual scorers, seven swimmers are projected for 50+ points: The Walsh sisters, Sims, Nocentini, Pash, Sticklen and NC State’s Katharine Berkoff. On the men’s side, we only saw four swimmers projected for 50 or more.

TOP INDIVIDUAL SCORERS – MIDSEASON

  1. Gretchen Walsh (Virginia), 60
  2. Bella Sims (Florida), 56
  3. Jasmine Nocentini (Virginia) / Alex Walsh (Virginia) / Kelly Pash (Texas), 51
  4. Emma Sticklen (Texas) / Katharine Berkoff (NC State), 50
  5. Ella Nelson (Virginia), 47
  6. Isabel Ivey (Florida), 43
  7. Gabi Albiero (Louisville) / Phoebe Bacon (Wisconsin), 41

In the relays, Texas and USC lead the way with Virginia and Florida not too far behind.

Perhaps more notably, Stanford is only projected for 48 relay points, the lowest among the top nine teams. The Cardinal have seven swimmers in position to score 10+ points individually, a mark only eclipsed by Texas (8) and matched by Florida and Ohio State.

TOP RELAY SCORING TEAMS – MIDSEASON

  1. Texas, 168
  2. USC, 166
  3. Virginia, 154
  4. Florida, 138
  5. Indiana, 113
  6. Ohio State, 112
  7. NC State, 98
  8. Cal, 80
  9. Louisville, 78
  10. Michigan, 72

You can find the full Swimulator results, along with a list of individual scorers for each team, here.

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Klorn8d
4 months ago

Does anyone who knows diving have any idea what Texas could expect from divers this year? Looks like all their scorers return but I feel like I remember seeing one of them transferred or redshirted or something? Did they get any good freshman?

JeahBrah
Reply to  Klorn8d
4 months ago

I believe they return all but Janie Boyle who was a platform specialist, had a bad NCAAs last year and didn’t score. Most importantly they return Hailey Hernandez who is a contender to win the springboards. They brought in 2 freshmen who may score a few points but are unlikely to make an A final.

swimgeek
4 months ago

We’ve seen this movie before… yes, Douglass is a huge loss (and Lexi Cuomo is an underrated loss too on both 4×50 relays). But getting 5th years out of Nelson and Donohoe was big — and then adding Nocentini sealed the deal, in my view. Just last season, Texas was actually AHEAD in the mid-season swimulator, and then UVA won the real meet by 125. Until proven otherwise, I think we’re looking at a pretty comfortable four-peat.

oxyswim
4 months ago

This headline is a little silly. This is once again factoring in UVA with no 800 FR relay time. If they get NCs with their stars healthy, they win.

Samuel Huntington
Reply to  oxyswim
4 months ago

And Texas does not have Jacoby or diving factored in. We know there are flaws to this but it’s a good starting point for analysis.

DII Coach
4 months ago

I like the article and it is interesting but I am interested in how the swimulator works. Would you mind writing a story about that? I ask because I ran a few of the filters and see several issues with times (incorrect or missing, which will happen occasionally) at first glance. If some of those incorrect times were removed or missing times added it would change things up a bit. Also, I would guess that some of the parameters (internal filters) are the same for each conference and division. Other things change the score a bit as well: number of scorers (conferences), the number of individual events in which an athlete can score, how relays are invited to NCAA’s, etc.

Editor
Reply to  DII Coach
4 months ago

Swimulator pulls it’s data from USA swimming’s database, which sometimes contains bad times and those then make it over to the Swimulator database. We try and scrub them out (or add in obvious ones USA Swimming is missing, like Florida’s relays), but sometimes some mistakes make it through. USA swimming’s data has really degraded in quality since the site “upgrade” they did last year. There’s a lot of data out there. What we get in the Swimulator database is close.

Swimulator does attempt to give swimmer’s realistic event line ups. It only allows 3 events per individual and it puts swimmers in their top three rated events, but with conditions. It doesn’t allow swimmers to do individual events that are… Read more »

Sweet Sweet Peter Rosen
4 months ago

Gretchen Walsh is going to carry UVA relays. Not sure how they lose with her

Coach
Reply to  Sweet Sweet Peter Rosen
4 months ago

Predicted average relay exchange times for UVA .25 If they are smart about it.

I miss the ISL
4 months ago

I wonder if Louisville at 9 instead of 3 or 4 like everyone has them finishing is an indication that they haven’t shown their true colors, they haven’t competed some relays, etc. I haven’t paid attention to them much this season. Can someone provide some insight? Also, Northern Colorado??

Admin
Reply to  I miss the ISL
4 months ago

Northern Colorado was an error in the USA Swimming database that we got removed.

Louisville ALWAYS drops at NCAAs. They’re better at peaking at NCAAs than just about anyone (save maybe Cal men, but even that’s a close competition).

That being said – as I watch the season go on, they *feel* maybe a swimmer short of having the right pieces in the right places for top 4. I obviously have been high on them to this point of the season, and still am, and they’re lucky that nobody is running roughshod to take that 4th spot from them, but it just seems like they’re missing 1 major contributor to put the points together to finish 4th, even on another… Read more »

Jimbo
4 months ago

So add a (winning?) 800 free relay for Virginia and then 4 or 5 divers and Lydia Jacoby for Texas. Should be a good one.

Swimgeek
Reply to  Jimbo
4 months ago

That’s what we said last year. It really wasn’t very competitive at the real meet.

Admin
Reply to  Jimbo
4 months ago

Yep, that’s the math!

Although, it was the same math last year and…

Rick Paine
4 months ago

way to go Northern Colorado. Congrats to Lisa, Mark and Jacob.

Wondering Willie
Reply to  Rick Paine
4 months ago

Who is scoring for Northern Colorado?

oxyswim
Reply to  Rick Paine
4 months ago

It’s a mistake. They don’t have any top 50 times this year, let alone top 16.

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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