Last winter, Eddie Reese told The Alcalde that this year’s freshmen class is “probably the best group of swimmers that have ever graduated in the same year.” That’s high praise from someone who has been around the top level of the sport as long as Reese has. So how has this group performed so far? Are they living up to those lofty standards?
To get an idea of the freshmen’s performance so far, I’ve grabbed some data from our Swimulator tool. Swimulator runs a projection of the national meet based on the top times so far this season (respecting event limits and rational event choices. No diving). Analysis of the general men’s Swimulator projection and the women’s projection.
In the current Swimulator projection of men’s nationals this year’s freshmen score 288 individual points (vs 454.5 for sophomores, 537.5 for juniors, and 736 for seniors). The low point total relative to the other classes isn’t cause for alarm. Men’s freshmen classes, no matter how good, always score less than the upperclassmen; however, this year’s freshmen are actually a little behind where last year’s freshmen were at this point. As of December 15th last year that class projected to 291.5 points. At nationals last year, freshmen scored 277.5 individual points in swimming events while the seniors scored 800.5.
A freshmen class’s quality isn’t judged by how they perform their freshmen year alone. Their entire NCAA careers matter. The recent standard for success by a class is the group of seniors that graduated last year. At nationals last year they scored 800.5 points. No other class in the past 5 years has scored more than that (I only checked 5 years, could be longer). They were an exceptionally strong group, but even they didn’t dominate the NCAA from the start. In 2015, when last year’s seniors were freshmen, they scored 325 points at nationals, more than 140 points fewer than that season’s sophomores (472 individual points), juniors (586), and seniors (630). Their 2014-15 mid season Swimulator projection was 324.5 points. They took big jumps the next two years and last year as seniors, that same group of swimmers scored 800.5 individual points, more than 2.5 times as many as the freshmen last year.
The current freshmen and last year’s freshmen point totals lag behind that group’s freshmen year total, but not by a ton (288 and 291.5 vs 324.5). This year’s group is only 36.5 points back, but to live up to the greatest ever recruiting class hype, they need to progress. Some level of progression is expected. Classes consistently improve their point total the next year at nearly every single opportunity sophomore, junior, and senior years. It’s more a question of how much will they improve.
This year’s sophomores have improved their projected point total this year, but look unlikely to ever replicate the strength of last year’s senior class. They currently project to 454.5 points, 163 more than they had at this point last season; however, the elite 2018 senior class projected to 621 points in the mid season projection their sophomore year, nearly doubling their total the previous year. This year’s sophomore’s point rise of 163 is more typical. The previous 4 years at mid season the sophomore classes added 263, 162, 296.5, and 197 points to their freshman mid season totals.
It’s too early to say whether this year’s freshmen will live up to the hype. We will likely have a better idea next year at this time. If they progress like a typical class, they’ll be very good. If they progress like last year’s seniors, they’ll be great.
For now, all we can say is that they appear to be an above average class. While they’re behind last season’s freshmen and the 2014-15 freshman class with 288 projected points, they’re well ahead of where the 2016-17 freshmen (141.4 points), the 2015-16 freshmen (154), and 2013-14 freshmen (197) were in December.
That’s the wide angle view. Let’s zoom in a bit. Texas has the most projected freshmen points by a country mile. They have turned their #1 recruiting class into 102 projected freshmen points, 68 points ahead of next best Stanford. 72 of Texas’s 102 points are coming from only 2 swimmers, 41 from Drew Kibler and 31 from freshman breakout star Charlie Scheinfeld. The scary thing for their competitors is that their lead could be much bigger if Daniel Krueger were in the mix. Krueger currently projects to 0 because he missed Texas’s mid season invite.
Florida who got the #2 ranked recruiting class project to only 7 points, but they are at least doing better than our 5th, 6th, and 7th ranked classes, Arizona St, USC, and Virginia Tech who project to 0 (I will note that part of the reason those teams recruiting classes were ranked so high was high profile transfers. Transfers aren’t freshmen, so they don’t score here. However, USC and Arizona St did have top 10 ranked freshmen recruits).
The only unranked recruiting class to project to any points is Notre Dame who currently get 17 points from Marci Barta. Barta has the #2 time in the 400 IM (3:41.67).
There is plenty of time for highly regarded classes to turn things around, but there’s no guarantee they will by the end of the season. 9 of last year’s top 20 recruits didn’t score at nationals and 5 failed to even secure an invite to the meet.
Swimulator does not include diving, so the nationals scores are swimming events only.
|Current Swimulator Projection||Last Year at This Point||Last Year at Nationals|
December Projections History
|Current Projection||2017-18 Season as of Dec. 15||2016-17 Season as of Dec. 15||2015-16 Season as of Dec. 15||2014-15 Season as of Dec. 15||2013-14 Season as of Dec. 15|
Men’s Freshmen Class Projections by Team
|Team||Projected Points||Pre Season Recruiting Class Rank|
One slightly unrelated note: If you’ve been following the Swimulator rankings posts and were hoping for a D2 post, I’m waiting to post until after the Tampa invite this weekend. It would be unwise to put out a post mid season invite ranking without Nova Southeastern’s mid season invite.