Analyzing the Longest Active Streaks of Top-25 Finishes at NCAA Championships

A few months ago, Minnesota swimming and diving coach Kelly Kremer tweeted about his Gopher men’s 19th-place showing at the 2022 NCAA Championships, which extended their streak of top-25 finishes to 31 seasons in a row. Naturally, it sent us down a rabbit hole in the hopes of contextualizing the feat. 

Minnesota’s longevity is only dwarfed by a handful of dynasties. Only six other men’s programs — Stanford (56), Texas (47), Cal (47), Arizona (45), Tennessee (39), and Michigan (33) — have posted more top-25 results in a row than the Gophers’ 31. The Minnesota women have also placed inside the top 25 for the past 16 seasons, good for the 10th-longest streak. The school is one of just seven along with Stanford, Texas, Cal, Georgia, Arizona, and Tennessee to have both its men’s and women’s teams rank among the 10 longest active top-25 streaks. 

Stanford secured the top spot on both lists. There was a three-way tie on the women’s side, with Stanford, Texas, and USC each tallying top-25 finishes for the past 40 seasons. The Cardinal women’s worst finish over the past 40 years was just 9th place, compared to 15th for Texas and 25th for USC. 

Because of the structure of the NCAA Swimming & Diving Championships, and the top-heavy nature of collegiate swimming & diving, one great swimmer or diver can be enough to keep a team in the top 25 at NCAAs — but only if that one is really good. 

While past Gopher teams have earned their rankings with depth, relays, and big squads of qualifiers, more recently the Gophers have been reliant on just a few stars to carry their load for their rankings. Last year, for example, Max McHugh scored 37 of the team’s 44 NCAA Championship points. Freshman distance swimmer Bar Soloveychik (4 points) and junior diver Jake Butler (3 points) chipped in a few to lift the team into the top 20.

On the women’s side, diver Sarah Bacon scored 37 of the team’s 43 points, with IM’er Megan van Berkom adding 6 more points to give the team a 21st-place finish.

Regardless of how it’s done, this is a feat to be proud of and shows a history of consistently turning out All-American swimmers. Check the lists below to see which other teams can boast streaks of top 25 finishes. Because this includes the 2022 championships, there can only be 25 teams on the active list per gender as any other streaks would have ended in March.

Active Streaks of Top-25 Finishes at NCAAs

Men

  1. Stanford, 56
  2. Texas, 47
  3. Cal, 47
  4. Arizona, 45
  5. Tennessee, 39
  6. Michigan, 33
  7. Minnesota, 31
  8. Georgia, 29
  9. Florida, 23
  10. Louisville, 12
  11. Indiana, 11
  12. Missouri, 11
  13. NC State, 9
  14. Miami (FL), 8
  15. Alabama, 8
  16. Texas A&M, 6
  17. Purdue, 5
  18. Georgia Tech, 3
  19. Ohio St., 3
  20. Virginia, 3
  21. Virginia Tech, 2
  22. LSU, 2
  23. Arizona St., 1
  24. Harvard, 1*
  25. Columbia, 1

*Harvard didn’t compete during the 2020-21 season, but the program’s streak would stand at three top-25 finishes in a row if you don’t count the Crimson sitting out last year.

Women

  1. Stanford, 40 (lowest finish was 9th)
  2. Texas, 40 (lowest finish was 15th)
  3. USC, 40 (lowest finish was 25th)
  4. Georgia, 39
  5. Arizona, 36
  6. Cal, 26
  7. Wisconsin, 26
  8. Indiana, 23
  9. Tennessee, 17
  10. Minnesota, 16
  11. Virginia, 14
  12. Louisville, 10
  13. NC State, 8
  14. Kentucky, 8
  15. Michigan, 7
  16. Missouri, 7
  17. Ohio St., 6
  18. Florida, 3
  19. North Carolina, 2
  20. Northwestern, 2
  21. Alabama, 2
  22. Miami (FL), 2
  23. Virginia Tech, 2
  24. Duke, 1
  25. Penn, 1

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Hereforthecrazyshow
1 month ago

Isn’t it a bit redundant to mention that the USC women’s lowest finish is 25th? It is a list of active top 25 finishes.

96Swim
Reply to  Hereforthecrazyshow
1 month ago

They are tied at 40 years with Stanford and TX. The lowest finish in that span provides context.

Admin
Reply to  Hereforthecrazyshow
1 month ago

Not every team on this list has a lowest finish in their run of 25th. That’s presented as a ‘tie breaker’ of sorts to separate the three programs who have basically been in ever top 25 the NCAA has offered in women’s swimming.

D3
1 month ago

Should include division three to see some crazy long streaks !

Last edited 1 month ago by D3
Admin
Reply to  D3
1 month ago

Stanford’s men’s streak actually predates the existence of NCAA Division III.

Austinpoolboy
1 month ago

It would be interesting to see which teams had a long runs no longer active: UCLA, Michigan State? I bet Michigan had an earlier long run too

Last edited 1 month ago by Austinpoolboy
maximum mchuge
Reply to  Austinpoolboy
1 month ago

I mean U of M had an insane NCAA run and big ten run so probably. If you count unofficial titles, they won mens titles 1934-1941.

NB1
1 month ago

based on Minnesota’s A and B final finishes a week go at the Nationals, it’s going to get better

JimSwim22
1 month ago

Women’s NCAA swimming is 40 years old right? How about including it’s precursor?

BearlyBreathing
Reply to  JimSwim22
1 month ago

Seconded. How many of the NCAAs greats were also AIAW greats?
I wonder how many reading this site today even remember the AIAW? There’s been a lot of talk about Title IX lately and the AIAW was from the same early era.

Anonymous
1 month ago

Wisconsin women right up there with some huge, legacy teams. They are really a growing team

2Fat4Speed
1 month ago

Cal women about to fall off that list.

BearlyBreathing
Reply to  2Fat4Speed
1 month ago

With at least Isabelle Stadden staying I think they can keep the streak alive.

About Riley Overend

Riley is an associate editor interested in the stories taking place outside of the pool just as much as the drama between the lane lines. A 2019 graduate of Boston College, he arrived at SwimSwam in April of 2022 after three years as a sports reporter and sports editor at newspapers …

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