Which Conference is the Fastest? NCAA D1 Women Conference Rankings

by Andrew Mering 13

March 06th, 2017 College, News

With all the conference meets completed, it’s now time to examine which conferences have been the best so far. For women in division 1 the best conference is not totally clear. Depending on what you value, the answer is either the Pac 12 or the SEC. Either way it’s close. To rank conferences I used two different methodologies “Super Nationals” which slightly favored the SEC and “Ultimate Dual Meets” which slightly favored the Pac 12. Neither method includes diving.

Super Nationals

The first ranking method was an invite format where each conference got 16 entries in each event and the meet was scored thru 368th place (368=23 conferences*16 places). The exact procedure I followed was:

1) Grab the top 3 times by swimulator power points for the top 17 swimmers on each team in a conference.

2) Find the top 16 times in a conference among those times

3) Pool the top 16 times from all conferences and rank them

4) Score out the ranking 368 points for 1st, 367 for 2nd…1 point for 368th

The SEC came out on top in this ranking over the Pac 12 by a score of 69,866 to 69,579.5. The difference was about 300 points, but on a score total of over 69,000 that’s not a big margin. The main reason for the difference was the Pac 12’s inferior depth. The back half of nearly every top 16 favored the SEC by wide margins. The ACC narrowly edged out the Big 10 for 3rd. The Mountain West beat out the Ivy League as the top mid major conference. The Big 12, home to national power Texas ranked only 9th due to their lack of depth behind Texas and small number of teams.

This isn’t a perfect ranking system. In this methodology, for top conferences, having “slow” swimmers at the back end of the top 16 is punished more harshly than having extremely fast swimmers is rewarded. For example, Katie Ledecky could drop 10 seconds off her mile and her value in this ranking wouldn’t change. She would still be ranked first and score the same number of points. In contrast, if a swimmer at the bottom of the rankings adds a second, they can drop many places which would cost their conference points. This is a flaw, but it does mirror how actual swimming competitions are scored, so I’m not sure how big of a flaw it is.

Here are the full conference rankings by this methodology:

Conference Points
1 SEC 69,866
2 Pac 12 69,579.5
3 ACC 67,659
4 Big Ten 67,285
5 Mountain West 51,177.5
6 Ivy League 50,670.5
7 MAC 46,206
8 AAC 43,839
9 Big 12 40,675
10 C-USA 38,718.5
11 Mountain Pacific 36,766.5
12 Atlantic 10 33,714.5
13 The Patriot League 32,562
14 CAA 32,504.5
15 CCSA 31,162
16 WAC 30,747.5
17 Missouri Valley 26,740
18 Horizon League 25,523
19 Big East 22,832.5
20 The Summit League 22,282
21 America East 17,084
22 Northeast Conf 16,871
23 Metro 5,946.5

Ultimate Dual Meets

The second ranking method was a head to head format where each conference got 16 entries in each event and was pitted against other conferences head to head in meets scored to 32nd place. The exact procedure I followed was:

1) Grab the top 3 times by swimulator power points for the top 17 swimmers on each team in a conference

2) Find the top 16 times in a conference among those times

3) Pool the top 16 times from every pair of conferences

4) Score out the ranking 31 points for 1st, 30 for 2nd…1 point for 31st, 0 for 32nd

5)Rank conferences by head to head W-L record

In this method the Pac 12 beat the SEC by as score of 3,246.5-3,199.5. The only closer meet was the CCSA vs the WAC which the CCSA won by 14 points. In a credit to the robustness of both methods, the ranking of only 2 other conferences changed. The America East and Northeast Conferences traded the 21st and 22nd rankings they held in the Super Nationals method.

The ACC beat the Big 10 3,320.5-3,127.5 to take 3rd place. The Mountain West beat the Ivy League 3,255.5-3,192.5 for 5th.

In this methodology, having slower swimmers at the end of a conference’s ranking is probably under punished. If for example, a conference has the last 5 swimmers in a match in the 100 freestyle, it doesn’t matter if their times are 52.0 of 1:00.0, it’s scored the same. Similarly for lower ranked conferences, extremely fast swimmers are arguably undervalued. An overall conference quality ranking should be able to account for time quality across every swimmer. The other method does to some extent. However, given the similarity of results between the two methods, perhaps these flaws are mostly hypothetical

Rankings by win loss record:
Conference Wins Losses
1 Pac 12 22 0
2 SEC 21 1
3 ACC 20 2
4 Big Ten 19 3
5 Mountain West 18 4
6 Ivy League 17 5
7 MAC 16 6
8 AAC 15 7
9 Big 12 14 8
10 C-USA 13 9
11 Mountain Pacific 12 10
12 Atlantic 10 11 11
13 The Patriot League 10 12
14 CAA 9 13
15 CCSA 8 14
16 WAC 7 15
17 Missouri Valley 6 16
18 Horizon League 5 17
19 Big East 4 18
20 The Summit League 3 19
21 Northeast Conf 2 20
22 America East 1 21
23 Metro 0 22

Here’s the conference vs conference scores. It was too wide to fit in one table so half the columns are in this table and there’s a second table below with the second half of the data. The first score is the conference in the row, the second is the conference in the column.

ACC America East AAC Atlantic 10 Big 12 Big East Big Ten CCSA CAA C-USA Horizon League
ACC 4846-1592 4682-1756 4863-1585 4518-1867 4842.5-1574.5 3320.5-3127.5 4859-1582 4846.5-1601.5 4785-1659 4874-1531
America East 1592-4846 1923-4485 2150-4288 2205-4120 2792.5-3576.5 1602.5-4835.5 2346-4073 2195.5-4242.5 2142.5-4278.5 2575.5-3775.5
AAC 1756-4682 4485-1923 3880-2558 3289.5-3058.5 4250.5-2121.5 1735.5-4702.5 3901.5-2524.5 3968.5-2469.5 3470.5-2963.5 4149.5-2200.5
Atlantic 10 1585-4863 4288-2150 2558-3880 2734.5-3650.5 3856-2561 1602-4846 3449.5-2991.5 3279-3169 2879-3565 3754-2651
Big 12 1867-4518 4120-2205 3058.5-3289.5 3650.5-2734.5 3910.5-2358.5 1866.5-4518.5 3626-2711 3692-2693 3263-3088 3856-2405
Big East 1574.5-4842.5 3576.5-2792.5 2121.5-4250.5 2561-3856 2358.5-3910.5 1570.5-4846.5 2625.5-3757.5 2573-3844 2359-4044 2954-3337
Big Ten 3127.5-3320.5 4835.5-1602.5 4702.5-1735.5 4846-1602 4518.5-1866.5 4846.5-1570.5 4814.5-1626.5 4833-1615 4752-1692 4855-1550
CCSA 1582-4859 4073-2346 2524.5-3901.5 2991.5-3449.5 2711-3626 3757.5-2625.5 1626.5-4814.5 3105.5-3335.5 2756.5-3672.5 3589-2784
CAA 1601.5-4846.5 4242.5-2195.5 2469.5-3968.5 3169-3279 2693-3692 3844-2573 1615-4833 3335.5-3105.5 2808-3636 3638.5-2766.5
C-USA 1659-4785 4278.5-2142.5 2963.5-3470.5 3565-2879 3088-3263 4044-2359 1692-4752 3672.5-2756.5 3636-2808 3899.5-2493.5
Horizon League 1531-4874 3775.5-2575.5 2200.5-4149.5 2651-3754 2405-3856 3337-2954 1550-4855 2784-3589 2766.5-3638.5 2493.5-3899.5
Ivy League 1737-4711 4705-1733 3636-2802 4306.5-2141.5 3635-2750 4572-1845 1724.5-4723.5 4348-2093 4428.5-2019.5 3915.5-2528.5 4522-1883
Metro 1557-4888 2255.5-4173.5 1666-4769 1626-4819 1957-4398 2061.5-4337.5 1557-4888 1747-4679 1608-4837 1714-4721 1902-4488
MAC 1715-4732 4577-1856 3340.5-3091.5 3992.5-2454.5 3412.5-2966.5 4413.5-1995.5 1755.5-4691.5 4136.5-2301.5 4076-2371 3638-2805 4367.5-2027.5
Missouri Valley 1564.5-4874.5 3883-2524 2299-4110 2755-3684 2513.5-3815.5 3452.5-2912.5 1559-4880 2963-3453 2814.5-3624.5 2589-3840 3275.5-3072.5
Mountain Pacific 1617.5-4813.5 4312-2083 2703-3688 3439-2992 2889-3440 3979.5-2373.5 1651.5-4779.5 3560-2853 3531.5-2899.5 3049-3376 3847-2483
Mountain West 1791.5-4656.5 4696-1742 3658.5-2779.5 4325.5-2122.5 3662.5-2722.5 4567-1850 1798.5-4649.5 4375.5-2065.5 4422.5-2025.5 3933-2511 4542-1863
Northeast Conf 1564-4878 3305-3111 1878-4534 2132.5-4309.5 2226.5-4132.5 2826-3557 1565-4877 2334-4097 2153.5-4288.5 2129-4309 2614.5-3748.5
Pac 12 3564.5-2882.5 4855.5-1581.5 4743-1694 4875-1572 4609-1775 4880-1536 3548.5-2898.5 4868-1572 4874-1573 4827.5-1615.5 4880-1524
SEC 3590.5-2856.5 4855-1582 4772.5-1664.5 4884-1563 4593-1791 4883-1533 3630-2817 4866-1574 4878.5-1568.5 4825-1618 4891-1513
The Patriot League 1604-4843 4174.5-2262.5 2495-3942 3186-3261 2759.5-3629.5 3827.5-2589.5 1583.5-4863.5 3308-3132 3271-3176 2833.5-3609.5 3623.5-2780.5
The Summit League 1667-4775 3433-2983 2204.5-4207.5 2479.5-3962.5 2477.5-3881.5 3097.5-3285.5 1666.5-4775.5 2614-3818 2496-3946 2388-4050 2866-3497
WAC 1568-4864 4119-2279 2373.5-4018.5 3032-3400 2622-3717 3701.5-2657.5 1569.5-4862.5 3202-3216 3121-3311 2718-3710 3525-2810
Ivy League Metro MAC Missouri Valley Mountain Pacific Mountain West Northeast Conf Pac 12 SEC The Patriot League The Summit League WAC
ACC 4711-1737 4888-1557 4732-1715 4874.5-1564.5 4813.5-1617.5 4656.5-1791.5 4878-1564 2882.5-3564.5 2856.5-3590.5 4843-1604 4775-1667 4864-1568
America East 1733-4705 4173.5-2255.5 1856-4577 2524-3883 2083-4312 1742-4696 3111-3305 1581.5-4855.5 1582-4855 2262.5-4174.5 2983-3433 2279-4119
AAC 2802-3636 4769-1666 3091.5-3340.5 4110-2299 3688-2703 2779.5-3658.5 4534-1878 1694-4743 1664.5-4772.5 3942-2495 4207.5-2204.5 4018.5-2373.5
Atlantic 10 2141.5-4306.5 4819-1626 2454.5-3992.5 3684-2755 2992-3439 2122.5-4325.5 4309.5-2132.5 1572-4875 1563-4884 3261-3186 3962.5-2479.5 3400-3032
Big 12 2750-3635 4398-1957 2966.5-3412.5 3815.5-2513.5 3440-2889 2722.5-3662.5 4132.5-2226.5 1775-4609 1791-4593 3629.5-2759.5 3881.5-2477.5 3717-2622
Big East 1845-4572 4337.5-2061.5 1995.5-4413.5 2912.5-3452.5 2373.5-3979.5 1850-4567 3557-2826 1536-4880 1533-4883 2589.5-3827.5 3285.5-3097.5 2657.5-3701.5
Big Ten 4723.5-1724.5 4888-1557 4691.5-1755.5 4880-1559 4779.5-1651.5 4649.5-1798.5 4877-1565 2898.5-3548.5 2817-3630 4863.5-1583.5 4775.5-1666.5 4862.5-1569.5
CCSA 2093-4348 4679-1747 2301.5-4136.5 3453-2963 2853-3560 2065.5-4375.5 4097-2334 1572-4868 1574-4866 3132-3308 3818-2614 3216-3202
CAA 2019.5-4428.5 4837-1608 2371-4076 3624.5-2814.5 2899.5-3531.5 2025.5-4422.5 4288.5-2153.5 1573-4874 1568.5-4878.5 3176-3271 3946-2496 3311-3121
C-USA 2528.5-3915.5 4721-1714 2805-3638 3840-2589 3376-3049 2511-3933 4309-2129 1615.5-4827.5 1618-4825 3609.5-2833.5 4050-2388 3710-2718
Horizon League 1883-4522 4488-1902 2027.5-4367.5 3072.5-3275.5 2483-3847 1863-4542 3748.5-2614.5 1524-4880 1513-4891 2780.5-3623.5 3497-2866 2810-3525
Ivy League 4883-1562 3549-2898 4504-1935 4142-2289 3192.5-3255.5 4779-1663 1672.5-4774.5 1637-4810 4399-2048 4476.5-1965.5 4458-1974
Metro 1562-4883 1588-4856 1799-4628 1677-4748 1559-4886 2083-4356 1541-4903 1541-4903 1662-4782 2082.5-4356.5 1693-4736
MAC 2898-3549 4856-1588 4300.5-2133.5 3818.5-2604.5 2851-3596 4683.5-1753.5 1666-4780 1643-4803 4071-2375 4356.5-2081.5 4168.5-2255.5
Missouri Valley 1935-4504 4628-1799 2133.5-4300.5 2537.5-3857.5 1882-4557 3874-2543 1548.5-4889.5 1539.5-4898.5 2850-3588 3621-2796 2892.5-3506.5
Mountain Pacific 2289-4142 4748-1677 2604.5-3818.5 3857.5-2537.5 2254.5-4176.5 4380-2021 1606.5-4823.5 1584-4846 3456.5-2973.5 3990.5-2411.5 3616.5-2761.5
Mountain West 3255.5-3192.5 4886-1559 3596-2851 4557-1882 4176.5-2254.5 4781.5-1660.5 1733-4714 1685.5-4761.5 4375.5-2071.5 4476-1966 4434.5-1997.5
Northeast Conf 1663-4779 4356-2083 1753.5-4683.5 2543-3874 2021-4380 1660.5-4781.5 1553-4888 1549-4892 2239-4202 3026-3394 2209-4193
Pac 12 4774.5-1672.5 4903-1541 4780-1666 4889.5-1548.5 4823.5-1606.5 4714-1733 4888-1553 3246.5-3199.5 4880.5-1565.5 4816.5-1624.5 4868.5-1562.5
SEC 4810-1637 4903-1541 4803-1643 4898.5-1539.5 4846-1584 4761.5-1685.5 4892-1549 3199.5-3246.5 4893-1553 4836-1605 4885-1546
The Patriot League 2048-4399 4782-1662 2375-4071 3588-2850 2973.5-3456.5 2071.5-4375.5 4202-2239 1565.5-4880.5 1553-4893 3912.5-2528.5 3355-3076
The Summit League 1965.5-4476.5 4356.5-2082.5 2081.5-4356.5 2796-3621 2411.5-3990.5 1966-4476 3394-3026 1624.5-4816.5 1605-4836 2528.5-3912.5 2594.5-3808.5
WAC 1974-4458 4736-1693 2255.5-4168.5 3506.5-2892.5 2761.5-3616.5 1997.5-4434.5 4193-2209 1562.5-4868.5 1546-4885 3076-3355 3808.5-2594.5

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PKWater

Cool analysis. It’s crazy how even this makes the Pac 12 and the SEC. SEC is better if every team is accounted for but PAC 12 beats SEC head on. It appears as if this value the depth (goes all the way to the bottom 16) of a conference as opposed to how many points a conference would get at at a championship meet. I was wondering if relays were also counted, if so a conference with 9 teams (Pac 12) would have a disadvantage to a team that has 12 (SEC).

PKWater

I’m a huge numbers guy so this was great! Very fun read

Thank you

I can’t thank swim swam enough for revolutionizing swimming media. These are the types of fantastic articles that never used to exist before swim swam became what it is today. Thank you so much for taking the time to do these types of analyses!

Appreciate the kind words. We got away from these sorts of articles a little bit in 2014 and 2015, but thanks to Andrew, Kevin, and Barry joining the team, we’re happy to have revived this part of our content scheme.

Jim C

What would you get if you just added power points?

Depends on whose power points you use.

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