2024 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 2020 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 2020 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.


HM=Honorable mention

1 Bella Sims Florida 56 56
2 Campbell Stoll Texas 14 14
3 Kiley Wilhelm Harvard 0 redshirt
4 Cavan Gormsen Virginia 14 14
5 Tess Howley Virginia 15 15
6 Lucy Thomas Stanford 0 0
7 Erin Gemmell Texas 7 7
8 Camille Spink Tennessee 7 7
9 Jillian Cox Texas 0 redshirt
10 Hannah Bellard Michigan 6 6
11 Caroline Bricker Stanford 22 22
12 Michaela Mattes Florida 0
13 Miriam Sheehan NC State 0 0
14 Asia Kozan UC San Diego 0 no invite
15 Berit Berglund Texas 9 9
16 Julia Podkoscielny Florida 0 0
17 JoJo Ramey Florida 6 6
18 Hailey Tierney Wisconsin 0 0
19 Grace Rainey Florida 0 no invite
20 Maddie Waggoner Wisconsin 3 3
HM Kathryn Hazle Cal 0 0
HM Eleanor Sun Princeton 0 0
HM Sophie Brison Tennessee 0 no invite
HM Emma Kern Texas 2 2
HM Lainy Kruger Florida 0 0
HM Macky Hodges USC 0 0

The Hits:

  • Bella Sims was a no-brainer at #1 and performed incredibly in her freshman season, winning the 200 free and 500 free and coming 3rd in a tightly-contested 200 back. She also provided crucial relay splits for Florida, including leading the Gators to their first 800 free relay title since 1989.
  • Ranked 11th last year, Caroline Bricker‘s emergence was a big story throughout the season at Stanford, and she performed when the stakes were highest with a 4th-place finish and a new best time in the 400 IM at NCAAs. Bricker also placed 10th in the 200 IM.
  • Behind Sims, our next three ranked recruits scored 14 or 15 points, not including #3 Kiley Wilhelm who took an Olympic redshirt season. Texas’ Campbell Stoll made a pair of consolation finals, setting lifetime bests in both the 200 fly and 400 IM final, while the Virginia duo of Cavan Gormsen and Tess Howley both had one big result, as Gormsen placed 5th in the 500 free and Howley was 4th in the 200 fly.
  • Freestylers Erin Gemmell and Camille Spink managed to put up points in competitive events loaded with upperclassmen, and Spink missed out on at least 11 additional points in the 200 free after being disqualified for a false start in the ‘A’ final. Spink touched 6th before the DQ, which would’ve earned 13 points.
  • Backstrokers Berit Berglund and JoJo Ramey were the top scorers among swimmers ranked behind Bricker, with Berglund topping the 100 back consolation final and Ramey touching 3rd in the ‘B’ final of the 200 back.

The Misses:

With three more seasons of eligibility, there are no real misses, but we’re simply looking at swimmers who may have not performed as expected as freshmen.

  • The top-ranked recruit who didn’t score was Stanford’s Lucy Thomas, who had a so-so season by her standards and didn’t take down any of her key best times. Thomas only made one ‘A’ final at Pac-12s and her highest NCAA finish was 29th, both coming in the 100 breast.
  • Asia Kozan and Grace Rainey were the only ranked recruits who didn’t earn invites, both falling short of lowering their best times during the season.
  • Among the non-scorers, Kathryn Hazle deserves mention after coming close in the 400 IM, placing 17th and missing a second swim (or swim-off) by 12 one-hundredths.
  • Top 20 swimmers Miriam Sheehan and Julia Podkoscielny had strong seasons but didn’t hit their tapers right on at NCAAs, while Hailey Tierney didn’t score but was solid in her national championship debut with a 21st-place finish in the 50 free with a season-best and a new PB in the 100 fly.


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


Catie Choate Florida 11 11
Angie Coe Texas 4 4
Ali Pfaff Duke 1 1
  • Florida’s Catie Choate had a breakout swim in the 200 back at the Georgia Fall Invitational, and essentially matched that time in the NCAA prelims to lock in a berth in the ‘A’ final. Coming into the season with a PB of 1:54.9, she’s now been sub-1:52 multiple times.
  • Texas’ Angie Coe had a monstrous drop in the 400 IM at the Sterkel Classic in February, bringing her best time down some sevens seconds in 4:07.45. After making the ‘B’ final, she reset her PB down to 4:06.32 to place 13th in her NCAA debut.
  • Duke’s Ali Pfaff was on fire at NCAAs, setting best times in all three of her events. That included qualifying for the consols of the 200 back in 13th, touching in 1:52.41 after hitting a PB of 1:53.48 in November at the NC State Invite.
  • Choate, Coe and Pfaff were all featured in the “Best of the Rest” section in our class of 2023 re-rank.


Miranda Grana Texas A&M 24 24
Emelie Fast Tennessee 21 21
Minna Abraham USC 16 16
Stephanie Balduccini Michigan 15 15
  • Miranda Grana swam faster at SECs than she did at NCAAs for Texas A&M, but still performed incredibly well for a freshman with a 6th-place finish in the 200 back and an 8th-place showing in the 100 back. At SECs, the Mexican native was 3rd in the 100 back, 200 back and 100 fly.
  • A Swedish Olympian, Emelie Fast came in and proved to be a key contributor for Tennessee and a future replacement for Mona McSharry, as she made the podium (top three) of both breaststroke events at SECs and then followed up by going faster at NCAAs, placing 7th in the 200 breast and 9th in the 100 breast. Fast also scored in the 200 IM at SECs, placing 11th.
  • Minna Abraham was a big early-season story with her 200 free swims for USC, and the Hungarian kept the ball rolling through the postseason. She set a PB of 1:41.38 in the 200 free at the Texas Invite, and then swept the 100 and 200 free at Pac-12s coming off competing at the 2024 World Championships. In her first NCAA Championships, Abraham was back under 1:42 in the 200 free final for 3rd, and although she was off in the heats of the 100 free, she delivered a pair of 46-point relay splits for the Trojans.
  • One of the top freestyle sprinters in Brazil, Stephanie Balduccini was a driving force behind Michigan’s performance this season, particularly in the relays. Individually, she finished in the top five of the 100 free, 200 free and 200 IM at Big Tens, and followed up by placing 9th in the 100 free and 11th in the 200 free at NCAAs, setting new best times in both.


Elna Widerstrom Minnesota 13 13
Camyla Monroy Florida 12 12
Emilia Nilsson Garip Utah 9 9
Lauren Hallaselka UCLA 7 7
Shiyun Lai Kansas 6 6
  • Sweden’s Elna Widerstrom was one of three athletes to score for Minnesota, putting up 13 points with a 6th-place finish on 1-meter, helping place the Golden Gophers 20th in the team standings.
  • Widerstrom finished one spot ahead of Florida’s Camyla Monroy in the 1-meter event, as Monroy tallied 12 points for the Gators.
  • Juniors and seniors were fairly dominant in the diving events this season, but three more first-years managed to score: Sweden’s Emilia Nilsson Garip on 1-meter, Finland’s Lauren Hallaselka on 3-meter, and China’s Shiyun Lai in both springboard events.


Class of 2023
Class of 2022 After Sophomore Year
Class of 2021 After Junior Year After Sophomore Year
Class of 2020 After Senior Year After Junior Year After Sophomore Year
Class of 2019 After Senior Year 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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Ranger Coach
1 month ago

Bricker killed it towards the end of the season. I watched the highlights of the PAC12 meet (sad to see that conference go). She, and the entire Stanford team, are going to be fun (and weird) to watch at ACCs next year.

1 month ago

NC State needs to be studied. Always in the mix with top recruits yet perpetually mid

Reply to  Andrew
1 month ago

Obsess much?

Sherry Smit
1 month ago

What happened to Mattes? 4:39/16:00 and only raced a few times.

1 month ago

I still think you need to factor in 1/4 points for relays and add it to individual points for a true ranking.

Reply to  wolfensf
1 month ago

i think its too gray.
Its pretty different if you were Bella and the best leg on a relay (that wins or even gets DQed unrelated to her) while someone who barely makes is the 6th best but slots into a relay due to prioritize other relays and gets a top 5.
Of course its amazing for a freshmen to even make it into consideration, but the numbers would quickly skew on how good the team was/wasnt.
I think it should be a column or something noting Relays a member of and the placing, but the math would be neat to see, yet completely meaningless.

Reply to  SwimmerGuy
1 month ago

Maybe just list how many relays they swam on. That gives an indication of value. Otherwise you’d have to really get into the weeds and do something like comparing their split to an average split of a scoring relay and come up with a stat akin to WAR in baseball. Something that shows how much more valuable their contribution would be over the average swimmer on a scoring relay. If you take how their team did into account you aren’t really giving an accurate representation of how valuable a leg they swim. Like Bella here or an even better example when Dean Farris had best split in the field but Harvard came in something like 8th because the rest of… Read more »

1 month ago

Dang, nice job SwimSwam.

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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