Big Question #3: The Impact of Internationals at the Men’s NCAA Championship Meet

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There are few hotter subjects at any given point of time in college swimming than the impact of international athletes. Some teams swear them off ; some teams live-and-die by them; some teams will pick up a few when brought around, but don’t necessarily make any special effort to do so. Sometimes the opinions voiced publicly on the subject is driven by the fans and alumni, and sometimes it’s driven by the coaches. In the modern day of college swimming, every top program is impacted by international athletes.

While the appropriateness of international athletes in the NCAA is left up to each in their individual opinions, and something we’d dig into in a separate editorial, this report is intended simply to provide information. Or, as some might refer to it, ammunition for those who have strong opinions on the subject. The big question is: just how much of an impact do internationals have on the NCAA level?

Note: The official NCAA Championship results didn’t indicate international athletes or not, as they sometimes do, but we’ve done our best and run it in front of several sets of eyes to make sure we’ve gotten them all.

In total, 770 out of 2,015 individual swimming points at the 2013 Men’s NCAA Championship meet were scored by international swimmers, or roughly 38.2%.

That includes some of the meet’s top names, like Vlad Morozov, Marcelo Chierighini, Christian Quintero, Matias Koski, and Michigan’s Ortiz Brothers.

For the purposes of this analysis, if an athlete is choosing to represent another country internationally, then we’ve counted them as internationals. That means that many swimmers with dual citizenship, or who have grown up in the U.S., like Alabama’s BJ Hornikel (Germany) or Georgia’s Matias Koski (Finland) and Tom Kremer (Israel) are counted as “internationals.” Your perspective on this depends on whether your argument is based on a sense of National pride, a statement about whose tax dollars fund the universities, or an issue of American coaches training other countries’ Olympians. The latter of those arguments falls closest to within our scope, so that’s what we’ve chosen to focus on.

In total, exactly half (20 out of 40) of the scoring teams at the men’s NCAA Championships had individual points from an international swimmer, which is to speak nothing of relay contributors (we haven’t found the time to count those yet, but expect it to be similarly huge).

The top international scorers were none other than the University of Michigan, the eventual National Champions, with 155 individual points from internationals. That includes the aforementioned Ortiz Brothers (Japan, Brazil, Spain, etc.), Anders Nielsen (Denmark), Hassaan Abdel-Khalik (Canada), Dylan Bosch (South Africa), and Richard Funk (Canada).

USC and Florida were the only other programs with more than 100 points from internationals.

Interestingly enough, Cal, if all individual international points were removed, would have won this year’s NCAA Championship; they would be hard-pressed to complain, though, as my instinct is that a similar measure probably would’ve cost them a title in previous years. Outside of the Golden Bears, nobody else was close enough to Michigan for those international points to matter, at least if we’re looking at only individual scoring.

The only team among the top 15 without any international scorers individually was the University of Texas (no big surprise there). It wasn’t for lack of trying though: big-time Israeli breaststroker Imri Ganiel joined the team and trained with them this past season, but won’t compete until next year.

Here’s our full rankings for ‘most individual points scored by international swimmers.’ Sometime over the next few weeks, we’ll look at the impact on the women’s meet, perhaps a rundown of relay scorers, and finally which countries contributed the most points to NCAA’s (though, with multiple citizens like the Ortiz’s, that could get a bit dicey).The top 10 “international” swimmers in the men’s NCAA, based on individual scoring:

Rank in Int’l Rank Overall   TOTAL POINTS
1. (1) Michigan 155
2. (4) USC 125
3. (6) Florida 110.5
4. (8) Auburn 47.5
5. (10) Georgia 46
6. (7) Stanford 45
7. (11) Louisville 43
8. (9) Indiana 30
9. (2) Cal 28
10. (13) Wisconsin 27
11. (26) LSU 24
12. (28) Alabama 20
13. (3) Arizona 17
14. (12) Ohio State 12
15. (33) Dartmouth 11
16. (14) Missouri 10
17. (23) Florida St. 7
18. (15) NC State 6
19. (29) UNLV 5
20. (40) Wyoming 1

Also, check out the table below for the top 10 individual scoring athletes from the international contingent at the meet.

      Points Scored
Vlad Morozov Russia USC 54
Marcin Cieslak Poland Florida 51
Miguel Ortiz Japan/Brazil/Spain Michigan 45
Dylan Bosch South Africa Michigan 41
Matias Koski Finland Georgia 40
Joao de Lucca Brazil Louisville 40
Cristian Quintero Venezuela USC 34
Marcelo Chierighini Brazil Auburn 34
Tom Kremer Israel Stanford 32
Eric Ress France Indiana 30

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69 Comments on "Big Question #3: The Impact of Internationals at the Men’s NCAA Championship Meet"

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The only reason why our college system is protected from a massive influx of international swimmers is the fact that all of our meets are run in short course yards. Most swimmers that perform on the international level train in their home environments for long course meters as they want to succeed where swimming matters most, not the sub-par yards venues.

Good luck with that logic. Training for starts, turns, speedwork and walls are superior at the NCAAs than at a typical international LC environment. The formula for success is both LC and SC….. not just LC. In addition, the intense pressure of the NCAA Championships and strong team environment greatly prepares youths for international competition later in their career. There is no substitute for NCAA D1 swimming on the LC side of the sport. Its just too bad we don’t give more money to home grown talent than we currently do.


I agree that there are some aspects of the NCAA that can’t be found anywhere else in the world of swimming (great underwaters, exciting relays and an exceptional team atmosphere) but there is still limited strength in the collegiate system. Part of it is that the oldest male swimmers are 22 years of age when they are arguably peaking around 24-25 years of age. SCY and LCM are different sports and that is why some of the world’s best in yards (Nolan, McBroom and Cordes) aren’t even hitting FINA ‘A’ cuts in the course that matters


Not hitting ‘A’ cuts? McBroom has the A cut in the 1500. Cordes has the A cut in the 100 Breast. Nolan is the only one of those 3 who doesn’t have a Fina A cut.

A lot of LCM programs train and race SCM in the winter. Same number of turns as SCY. 25M is about 27Yds, so not a big difference based on number of strokes. Even training in a long course pool, you dont think a coach cant spend time down one end of the pond working turns and starts? I’ve also seen plenty of 50 metre pools with the bulk head pulled as close in as 15 metres at one end for starts and turns training as well. What is missing is the team environment and the regularity of competition. This can be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on the individual swimmer. Relay work is missing in a lot… Read more »

If you do the same analysis for the d2 meet the results are astounding. 1300 international points versus 800 american points. and exactly half the participants are international with a lot of teams being 100% internationally represented at the meet.

the main reason for this d2 statistic is because american kids would rather sit on the bench (train with the club team and rarely become relevant for the program) in a top 10 d1 college. On the other hand, foreigners would gladly accept the d2 scholarships and will end up having the full NCAA experience.

Hook ’em.


About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder of He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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