It’s that time of the year again. SwimSwam will be previewing the top 12 men’s and women’s teams (and then some) from the 2022 NCAA Championships. Follow along with the College Swimming Preview Channel. Want to read even more? Check out the latest edition of the SwimSwam magazine.
#11 Virginia Tech
Fifth years: Noah Zawadzki (NCAA qualifier, 69 ACC points) diver
Three years ago, we unveiled a new, more data-based grading criteria based on ‘projected returning points’, a stat of our own making that involved a lot of manual calculations involving departing seniors, redshirts, freshmen, etc. We liked the objectiveness of that stat, but given that there’s still a lot of uncertainty for this year, we’re adopting a hybrid approach this year. The “stars” will rely heavily on what swimmers actually did last year, but we’ll also give credit to returning swimmers or freshmen who have times that would have scored last year.
Since we only profile the top 12 teams in this format, our grades are designed with that range in mind. In the grand scheme of college swimming and compared to all other college programs, top 12 NCAA programs would pretty much all grade well across the board. But in the interest of making these previews informative, our grading scale is tough – designed to show the tiers between the good stroke groups, the great ones, and the 2015 Texas fly group types.
- 5 star (★★★★★) – a rare, elite NCAA group projected to score 25+ points per event
- 4 star (★★★★) – a very, very good NCAA group projected to score 15-24 points per event
- 3 star (★★★) – a good NCAA group projected to score 5-14 points per event
- 2 star (★★) – a solid NCAA group projected to score 1-4 points per event
- 1 star (★) – an NCAA group that is projected to score no points per event, though that doesn’t mean it’s without potential scorers – they’ll just need to leapfrog some swimmers ahead of them to do it
We’ll grade each event discipline: sprint free (which we define to include all the relay-distance freestyle events, so 50, 100 and 200), distance free, IM, breaststroke, backstroke, butterfly and diving. Use these grades as a jumping-off point for discussion, rather than a reason to be angry.
After finishing 11th at NCAAs during the shortened 2020-2021 COVID-19 year, the Hokie men proved in 2022 that they are one of the top teams finishing 11th once again. The Hokie men also finished third at ACCs this past season scoring 1054 points and only 13 points ahead of rival Virginia.
Leading the way for the Hokies were internationals Youssef Ramadan, Carles Coll Marti, and Antani Ivanov. The three were the Hokies highest scorers at NCAAs combining for 75 of the teams 143 points total. They also led the way at ACCs combining for 260 points. Also a big contributor was fifth year Sam Tornqvist as he scored 76 points at ACCs and four at NCAAs.
The team has a huge connection to Spain as head coach Sergio Lopez competed for Spain in the 1988 Olympics. The connection holds strong as most recently at the European Championships, both the men’s 4×100 freestyle and 4×100 medley relays from the country also compete for Virginia Tech.
The Hokie men once again set school records as they scored the most points ever at NCAAs (143) surpassing their total of 135 from a year ago. Their 11th place finish also ties their highest finish ever from a year ago.
Ramadan won ACC Championships Most Valuable Swimmer after winning the 100 fly, 100 free, and finishing third in the 50 free. He also went lifetime bests during the season with a 43.90 100 fly at NCAAs making it the first time he has been under the 44 second mark.
Sprint Free: ★★★
Youssef Ramadan led the team’s sprint freestyles last year and finished seventh in the 50 free (19.04) and 11th in the 100 free (41.72). Ramadan’s time of 18.79 from prelims would have been sixth in finals. The team had no other NCAA finalists in the 50 and 100 and had none altogether in the 200 free.
Rising sophomore Mario Molla Yanes was in his first season ever with the SCY format as he is originally from Spain and dropped down to 43.25 in the 100 and 1:33.45 in the 200. He was slightly off those at NCAAs where he went 43.65 and 1:39.28.
The group also has Carles Coll Marti who swam a 1:33.72 at NCAAs. Coll Marti was fourth in the 200 IM and 200 breast at NCAAs but swims the 200 free as his third event.
Arriving on campus this fall will be Will Hayon who already goes a 43.74 in the 100 and 20.16 in the 50. With a little improvement, Hayon could be a huge get for the sprint free relays.
Distance Free: ★
Senior Filippo Dal Maso swam the 500 free at NCAAs in March but was slightly less than three seconds off his seed time to finish 44th. He also ended up DFSing the 1650 free. The team had no other swimmers in the events at NCAAs.
In the group this past year was freshman Luis Dominguez who was in his first season under the SCY format. He was able to get down to a 4:17.61 in the 500 and a 15:26.06 in the 1650 free.
The team does not have any primarily distance freestylers coming in as freshmen so the points here will still probably be slim to come by. Notably, at ACCs this past season, the 1650 free was their lowest scoring event as they only scored four total points.
Webb swam in the 100 back at NCAAs finishing 16th with a 45.72. Webb swam a 45.36 in prelims at NCAAs which was a personal best time. He dropped over a second in the event in the last year, and if he continues his momentum, he could be a threat for the A final. He also swam the 200 back at NCAAs swimming a 1:41.43 for 29th.
Also in the backstroke group is Nicolas Garcia of Spain. Garcia made the A final in the 200 back at the Tokyo Olympics but just missed out on an NCAA invite this past season swimming a 1:41.00.
Joining Webb in the backstroke group will be incoming freshman Carl Bloebaum, Landon Gentry, Lee Naber, and Will Hayon. Bloebaum and Gentry have already been in the 47 second mark in the 100. Naber and Hayon both have best times of 48.0.
In addition, Bloebaum comes in with a solid 200 back time of 1:44.67. It took a 1:40.92 to earn an NCAA invite.
The breaststroke group is one that can be called small and mighty as out of the three swims in breaststroke events at NCAAs, they scored in all three.
The 100 breaststroke group is led by AJ Pouch who finished 15th in the 100 breast at NCAAs (51.87). In the 200 breast, both Pouch and Carles Coll Marti made finals. Coll Marti had a huge swim to finish fourth in 1:49.69 and Pouch was 11th in a 1:51.73.
Pouch has consistently been really good in the long course pool, but hasn’t had the short course success at the same level yet. If he is able to bring that success this season, that would be a huge boost.
Although a small group, the group will likely get bigger this fall with freshmen additions Aiken Do and Ethan Maloney. Maloney already has a best time of 53.74 in the 100, a time that is very rare coming out of high school. Do shows a little more range across both distances going 54.57 and 2:00.46.
In the butterfly events, one could say the rich just keep getting richer. As stated above, Ramadan had a huge season this last year dropping below the 44 second mark, finishing third at NCAAs for 16 points. Also highlighting the 100 fly is Mario Molla Yanes who got down to a 45.28 in his first season under the SCY format.
The 200 fly is where the incoming freshman will need to fill the big gap left by Antani Ivanov. Ivanov was ninth in the 200 fly at NCAAs going a 1:40.97. He also was 15th in the 100 fly, swimming a 45.64.
Most likely to make the biggest immediate impact is Bloebaum who has best times of 45.68 and 1:42.94, both of which he swam in the last year. Notably, both times are just off what it took to get an NCAA invite this past season as it took a 45.57 and a 1:42.42.
Also not far off Bloebaum with best times coming in is Gentry who has best times of 46.41 and 1:43.03. Hayon also comes in with a solid 100 fly time of 46.92.
Matthew will arrive from India with a best time of 55.57 and 2:02.71 LCM. His SCM best are 54.21 and 2:00.88. The team has already shown success transitioning great international butterfliers to great SCY butterfliers, so if Matthew is able to follow in the footsteps of names such as Ivanov and Ramadan, watch out for him.
The team is much stronger at the 200 IM than the 400 IM and is led by Carles Coll Marti who finished fourth at NCAAs in the 200 swimming a 1:39.63. Coll Marti had a huge season in the event as he had never been under the 1:43 mark before. If he continues his upward trend, he is almost guaranteed an A final swim in the event again.
The team’s only swimmer at NCAAs in the 400 IM was Filippo Dal Maso who has since graduated. Coll Marti swam the event for the first time at midseason but didn’t swim it again.
The team scored no diving points at NCAAs this past March. Noah Zawadzki qualified for NCAAs in all three diving events but did not score in any of them. Zawadzki was a senior at the time so if he returns for his COVID-19 fifth year that would be for the Hokie men especially as he scored more than 3x more points at ACCs and was the only diver to move on to NCAAs.
Update: SwimSwam has been informed Zawadzki is taking a fifth year which is a huge return for the team’s diving group.
The Virginia Tech men scored in all of the relays at NCAAs this past season except the 400 medley relay where they finished 17th. They lose the back and fly legs of their 200 medley relay, as well as one leg of the 800 free, 200 free, and 400 medley relays.
Their incoming class will most likely be able to fill the butterfly voids on the medleys, and rising senior Forest Webb can most likely slide into the backstroke leg on the 200 medley. As for the freestyle relays, the team has multiple options including using Webb, or developing rising sophomore Ben Eckerson into more of a back-sprint free combo as well. In addition freshman Will Hayon could develop too.
The Hokie men look set up for another great season although the loss of Antani Ivanov will hurt them at both the individual point and relay level. The team brings in a solid recruiting class especially with a lot of flyers and breaststrokers.
They were thin on the backstrokes and distance freestyle this past season, and it looks to be the same this upcoming year.
After a time dropping filled season this past year, Youssef Ramadan seems pretty set up for success again and will be joined by many freshmen in the fly group.
Carl Bloebaum has already been on a positive trajectory the last few years and if he continues on that could easily make huge waves and help fill the gaps of Ivanov in fly and Tornqvist in back. Gentry could also be a big boost. Both incoming freshmen are very versatile so the question may be where do they end up helping fill a gap rather than can they fill in a gap.
Although the team’s freshman class is solid, the gap of Ivanov may be too large to fill completely and finish 11th for the third year in a row. If the freshmen are able to step up big time, the Hokies could potentially move up though.
MEN’S PREVIEW INDEX
|Team||Sprint Free||Distance Free||Backstroke||Breaststroke||Butterfly||IM||Diving||Relays||Total Stars|
|#7 Stanford Cardinal||★★||★★★||★★★||★★||★★★||★★★||★||★★★★||21/40|
|#8 Georgia Bulldogs||★★★||★★★★||★★||★||★★★||★★★||★||★★★||20/40|
|#9 Ohio State Buckeyes||★★★||★★★||★||★★||★★||★★||★★★★||★★★||20/40|
|#10 Virginia Cavaliers||★★★★||★||★★★||★★||★||★||★||★★★★||17/40|
|#11 Virginia Tech Hokies||★★★||★||★★||★★★||★★★||★★★||★||★★||18/40|
|#12 Louisville Cardinals||★★★||★||★||★★||★||★||★||★★★||13/40|