With signing day come and gone, it’s time to see how the incoming classes are shaping up for next season. Like most of our incoming class rankings, many things factor into how a class is ranked, such as, but not limited to:
- How many swimmers are in the class
- How many ranked swimmers are in the class
- Whether or not swimmers have SCY experience
- Whether or not swimmers’ strengths address team needs
- Whether or not swimmers have improved in the last season or two
- Ability to score in dual meets as freshmen
- (Sprint) freestyle is weighted heaviest, as that is most valuable in the NCAA system
- Abundance/scarcity– if the class has a million strong butterfliers, that will be accounted for, and same goes if the class has very few strong breaststrokers
Most importantly, no SwimSwam author has ever owned a functioning crystal ball, nor do we claim to be able to predict the future. This is a look at what talent is coming to the NCAA next season, and which teams are expected to get the most out of their freshman classes– if you disagree with rankings, feel free to respectfully voice your opinion in the comments. If you’re still reading this disclaimer– amazing! You’ve done better than a staggeringly large portion of our readers. Thanks for doing that.
HONORABLE MENTIONS (IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER)
- NC State
- Virginia Tech
- Notre Dame
#10 – INDIANA
Without a key de- and re-commitment, this class might not have made it into the top ten. In-state sprinter Jack Franzman had a change of heart four months after verbally committing to the NC State Wolfpack in May, deciding to stay close to home and committing to Indiana instead.
In doing so, Franzman could wind up being IU’s next big sprinter. With Coley Stickels and Mark Hill on the coaching staff now, the Hoosier sprint group has become formidable, and Franzman is a big get for the program. He’s been 19.81/43.44 in yards and went a PR 22.68 in long course at the 2016 Jr Pan Pac Champs to earn the silver medal. Sprinters Andrew Couchon (20.4/45.2) and Brandon Hamblin (20.5/45.6) flesh out the incoming class with some speed.
Michael Brinegar is a top 20 honorable mention, and for good reason. He’s been 4:19/8:56/14:53 in the 500/1000/1650, and had a great 2017, producing bests of 3:54/7:57/15:09 in the LCM versions of those races. He won silver in the 1500 and bronze in the 800 at this past summer’s World Jr Championships, and the best part for IU is, the distance power doesn’t stop there.
Also in the class are Mikey Calvillo, Michael Draves, and Ben McDade. Calvillo has been 4:28/9:11/15:15 in yards and 3:55/8:03.99/15:28.61 in long course, and he had a very strong 4:22.09 400m IM this summer, which ranked him #10 all-time in 15-16 U.S. history at that time. Draves and McDade are similar in speed, with Draves coming in at 4:30/9:23/15:50 and McDade at 4:28/9:14/15:41. The last member of the class is a sprint butterflier, Zach Cook, who has been 48.1 in the 100.
Oregon pickup Van Mathias adds more to this class– his butterfly times of 48.61/1:51.95 aren’t eye-popping, but he went impressive times of 53.87/2:00.31 in long course, and he could certainly develop significantly in SCY before he gets to IU. He’s also a 56.7/1:04 breaststroker and a 1:48 IMer.
#9 – FLORIDA STATE
At the core of this FSU class is pure sprint speed, a huge plus in the NCAA system.
Two Polish commits look to be at the head of the class in Karol Ostrowski and Kuba Ksiazek. Ostrowski has been quicker, boasting times of 22.72 and 49.87 in freestyle, though Ksiazek isn’t far back in 22.91/50.25. Ostrowski has also been 1:50.55 in the 200 LCM free, while Ksiazek has been 24.68 in the 50 fly.
California’s Zander Minano is the fastest yards newcomer, having been under 20 seconds already in the 50 free (19.87). It’s somewhat rare to have a sub-20 sprinter out of high school (though not really for this class, as evidenced by Texas and Florida in particular), but Minano is still an important pickup. Add in Cooper de Ryk, a 20.1/45.0 sprinter, and that could be a very solid 200 free relay without even factoring in returning swimmers for next year.
There’s more than just sprint free power here, with Bahamian national team-er Izaak Bastian joining up next fall. He’s been 28.77/1:03.71 in LCM breaststroke, something for Coach Neal Studd to work with.
#8 – TEXAS A&M
The Aggies are on the up-and-up as a men’s team, and this recruiting class absolutely reflects that trend. The in-state haul is significant and makes up all but one swimmer, headlined by SwimSwam’s #20 recruit in the class, Clayton Bobo. Another sub-20 sprinter, Bobo has been 19.90 in the 50, and he backs that up with a very strong 43.56 in the 100 free. Bobo has also been 1:38.13 in the 200 free and brings in a nice 48.13 100 fly, too.
After Bobo, the sprint dominos fall into place. Shaine Casas has been 20.1/44.3, Coco Bratanov 20.4/44.9, Alberto Gomez 45.1, and Mark Schippenkoetter 51.6 LCM. Schippenkoetter and Gomez both represented Mexico at the 2016 Jr Pan Pac Champs.
There’s a lot more to Casas and Gomez, in particular, than sprint free. Casas is a bit of a diamond in the rough in that he broke out this summer at Junior Nationals with best long course times in free (23.0/50.5/1:51.6), back (55.7/2:02.0), fly (53.2), and IM (2:03.0). Those times suggest he has more in the tank than his 47.6 fly and 48.4/1:47.3 back SCY times suggest, along with his sprint free yards bests. Gomez is also very versatile, with bests of 1:48.1/3:51.1 in IM, 48.7/1:48.0 back, and 1:38.1 free.
#7 – CAL
This is a very small class, but they crack the top 10 because of one name: #1 in the class, Reece Whitley. The best high school breaststroker to enter the NCAA system since Andrew Seliskar (who happens to go to Cal, too), Whitley gives Cal an immediate elite breaststroke option who is already fast enough to A final in both breaststrokes at NCAAs and who can solidify their medley relays as soon as he gets to campus.
For how fast he is at breaststroke, Whitley isn’t someone so specialized in his stroke that he can’t do anything else. He’s also 1:47.1 BK, 1:48.8 FL, 1:43.9/3:47.1 IM, and 45.1/1:38.1 FR, with his IM being the most impressive. Whitley also had a fantastic summer, giving way to long course bests of 27.7/1:00.0/2:10.8 in breaststroke, earning silvers in the 100 and 200 at the 2017 World Jr Champs. With the momentum Cal has, the addition of Whitley could turn the corner for them as they seek another national title.
Christopher Jhong is a great IM’er (1:47/3:50) with a 1:39.7 200 free, while Daniel O’Connell has been 20.7/45.2 FR and Kyle Millis has been 50.1/1:49.0 BK.
The class is tiny, but noting how large and powerful the current Cal freshman class is, the Golden Bears didn’t necessarily need another army of newcomers for next fall. Still, the lack of numbers here and sparse sprint free promise keeps the class from breaking into the top 5.
#6 – MICHIGAN
Michigan is looking to get back on top of things in the Big Ten, and landing someone like Patrick Callan is a great way to make that happen. The Oklahoma native is #6 in the 500 free and #10 in the 200 free in U.S. 17-18 history, and he’s the fastest U.S. 500 freestyler to enter the NCAA system since Grant Shoults and Townley Haas. Callan has been 44.5/1:34.0/4:14.6 in the 100/200/500, and Michigan has had a lot of success with mid-distance freestylers, most recently names like Felix Auboeck, Anders Nielsen, Michael Wynalda, Connor Jaeger, etc.
Callan also dropped a 1:47.33 leading off the USA’s 4×200 free relay at World Jr Champs– the only 17-18’s in U.S. history that have been faster than that are Maxime Rooney (1:47.10) and Michael Phelps (1:45.99). Callan’s lifetime bests are fresh, and out of all of the fantastic 200-500 freestylers incoming next fall, Callan could wind up ahead of them all under Mike Bottom.
Will Chan offers some nice breaststroke speed to join Jacob Montague & company– Chan has been 53.7/1:58.9 in yards, and given the smaller amount of elite breaststrokers incoming next fall, his value is upped a bit. Chan is joined by AJ Bornstein, who has been 55.9/1:58.6 in breast, as well as 56.0 breaststroker Mason Hunter. An intriguingly versatile commit, Chan has also been 1:48.9 IM and 20.1 free, and his sprint free could prove vital to Michigan as top sprinter Paul Powers is graduating after this season.
Distance specialist Andrew Babyak (4:26/15:26 in yards) and in-state talents Ian Miskelley, David Cleason, and Michael MacGillivray, along with MA’s Jared Daigle make up the rest of this Michigan class.
#5 – ARIZONA STATE
Picking up two top-20 recruits and a nice group of additional names, the ASU Sun Devils look to keep riding the wave upwards in the NCAA.
Cody Bybee will be part of a great sprint free group led by Cameron Craig and Grant House— he’s been 20.3/43.7/1:34.5 as well as 4:23.5 in the 500, already fast enough to help out on at least the 4×200 free relay. It doesn’t stop there for Bybee, though, a top sprinter out of Ohio following House’s footsteps, as he’s a 21.5/46.9/1:47 flyer as well. Khalil Fonder from the Virginia Gators is also a great butterflier, with PRs of 47.63 in the 100 and 1:47.13 in the 200.
#13 Noah Henry is the 2nd ranked commit in the class, a 44.8/1:37.9 freestyler whose focus is backstroke– Henry’s bests are 47.1/1:44.8 there. Missouri’s Liam Bresette, meanwhile, has been 1:37.1 in the 200 free as well as 1:48.8 in the 200 IM. Eddie Michael (21.0/45.3) and Ethan Luc (20.7/44.8/1:38.4) are additional sprint pickups, while 54.8 breaststroker Elijah Warren adds another angle to a class otherwise without breaststroke speed.
#4 – USC
It doesn’t hurt to have a former World Jr Record holder coming in next fall. Alexei Sancov, a Moldova native living in California, has been 49.0/1:47.0/3:53.4 FR as well as 53.2 FL in long course. Newer to yards, as he’s only been training and racing SCY since 2016, he’s still been 20.2/43.4/1:33.9/4:19.8 FR and 47.3/1:47.1 FL– along with a 1:47.2 IM. Sancov could take on many roles for USC, but he looks primed to be their next freestyle star.
On the other end of the spectrum is another European, Sweden’s Victor Johansson, a distance specialist. In long course, Johansson can take it down to the 200 (1:48.74), but his real strength is the 400 (3:48.96), 800 (7:52.66), and 1500 free (15:05.91). His times convert over to 1:35.0/4:16.5/8:49/14:48, and the Swedish national record holder should be an immediate scorer for the Trojans in his first year in the States.
In addition to ranked #3 Sanov, #15 Ariel Spektor out of Bolles gives USC another top 20 name. He has three very strong events: the 100 fly (47.39), 200 free (1:37.21), and 200 IM (1:46.57), and he’s also split a 21-low on relays swimming fly on several occasions.
The fourth and final member of the class is Sean Ward, a 55.5 breaststroker who placed 5th at the 2017 CIF State Championships.
#3 – STANFORD
The Stanford men capitalized on a scarce breaststroke market, picking up half of the four breaststrokers in our 20 top rankings. #14 Daniel Roy was crowned the World Jr Champion over the summer after beating Reece Whitley in the 200m breast (2:10.77), breaking Kevin Cordes’ 17-18 NAG record in the process. He’s been 54.10/1:54.77, and his 200 is far more potent than his 100. #18 Jonathan Cook is also better in the 200, with yards bests of 53.91/1:57.06, though he’s also been 1:48.36/3:54.75 in IM and 49.78 in fly.
Meanwhile, the rest of the class brings in a lot of sprint power, which will go a long way for the distance-oriented Stanford roster.
#11 Jack LeVant has been 20.1/43.9/1:35.4/4:18.2 in freestyle, very strong top to bottom there. LeVant is also 48.8 back and 47.6 fly, along with 1:45’s in both fly and back and 1:48 IM. The North Texas Nadadores standout had a big summer, too, putting up PRs of 1:48.70 in the 200m free and 1:58.64 in the 200m fly.
They might be opponents in high school, but Allegheny North’s Mason Gonzalez and Upper Dublin’s Alessandro Boratto are headed to the Farm together next fall. Gonzalez was built for speed (19.9/43.6/1:37.9), while Boratto is a great backstroker (48.4/1:46.4) who broke out in long course this summer with new bests of 55.5/2:00.8.
David Madej (20.4/44.1/1:37.2 FR, 48 BK/FL) will be another free relay option like Gonzalez, and considering the distance depth in Palo Alto next year (Sweetser/Shoults/Calloni/Hirschberger), the lack of distance power in this class isn’t all that important.
#2 – FLORIDA
Picking up 3 top ten recruits, an HM, and a top European sprinter, Florida is doing all it can to offset the graduation of Caeleb Dressel. There is no making amends for the loss of the fastest SCY sprinter ever, but this is definitely a class for Gator fans to get excited about.
Starting with #7 Robert Finke, UF has picked up one of the great distance freestylers of the class. Finke, who is staying in-state (and following sister Autumn, UF class of ’17), would’ve scored 9th at the 2017 NCAA Champs in the mile with his PR of 14:37.71. In fact, with a good chunk of mid-season invites already completed, Finke would have the best time in the NCAA right now. He’s also been 4:18.74 in the 500 free, 1:47.41/3:47.65 in IM, and is sub 1:49 in the 200 back and 200 fly.
Distance/IM specialist Kieran Smith and mid-distance freestyler Trey Freeman fit right in with Finke. Smith erupted in LCM this summer (1:59.5/4:17.6 IM), and he’s been 1:46.4/3:46.0 IM in SCY. At the USA v. College Challenge last month, Smith hit rare October PRs in the 200 free (1:36.0) and 200 back (1:43.9), and we’re likely to see him drop even more before getting to Florida. Freeman has the most speed out of the three (20.2/44.2), but his sharpest events are the 200 free (1:34.9) and 500 free (4:16.9), though he’s also been 14:59 in the SCY mile. Freeman had impressive showings at the World Jr Champs in the 200 (1:47.7) and 400 (3:50.1), claiming the bronze in the 400.
In-state pickup Miguel Cancel adds even more depth in mid-distance with bests of 44.5/1:37.9/4:24.3, and he’s been 1:46.7 BK and 1:48.0 IM.
Bolles twins Isaac and Will Davis bring sprint power, with Will having been 19.8/44.1 as well as 47.8 in fly and Isaac 19.9/45.7. Getting not one, but TWO sub-20 sprinters in the same class is big, especially considering the loss of Dressel.
Poland’s Kacper Stokowski, who holds SCM World Jr records in backstroke, has been 23.40/50.53/1:51.76 BK in SCM, which converts to times of 21.08/45.52/1:40.68. He’s also been 1:48.51 FR and 24.0/54.0 FL in LCM, translating to 1:34.8 and 21.0/47.4. Stokowski isn’t the first Pole in Gainesville (think Jan Switkowski and Marcin Ciezlak), and he makes this class all the more complete with backstroke salience.
The final piece here is Nick Hackett, a sprinter who’s been 21.1/45.7/1:39.0 FR and 48.6/1:48.9 FL. The one drawback to this monster class is the lack of breaststroke speed, so the Gators will continue to rely on Chandler Bray on medleys for the time being.
#1 – TEXAS
The Texas men haven’t looked sharp other than the Eddie Reese Invite this year, but never fear– the class of 2022 is absolutely loaded with sprint freestyle power, and the Longhorns might have finally secured a worthy breaststroker to lead the way.
#2 Drew Kibler was a dynamite get for Texas, boasting freestyle bests (19.6/42.9/1:33.3/4:15.6) that their Bay Area rivals would die for. He made some progression in the big pool in back (54.9) and fly (53.6) this summer, too, upping his versatility. #10 Daniel Krueger and #16 Matt Willenbring follow suit– Krueger and the gargantuan Willenbring (estimates are in the 6’8″-6’11” range) are impact sprinters as well, with Krueger in at 19.8/43.3/1:35.5 and Willenbring at 20.2/43.7/1:35.2.
Things hike up in yardage a bit with guys like Alex Zettle, a 4:19.2 500 freestyler who’s also 1:36.2 in the 200 and 15:20 in the mile, while Aitor Fungairino (1:34.8/4:25.7) specializes in mid-distance as well. Both of those times for Fungairino came at the FHSAA 3A Champs, with the 1:34 adding another potential 800 free relay candidate to go along with Kibler, Krueger, Zettle, and Willenbring.
Backstroker Jason Park is #17 on the top 20 list, with bests of 47.8/1:45.7, and Alex Margherio is 48.5 in the 100 back. Margherio is better at butterfly, having been 47.5 there, pairing well with Top 20 HM Andrew Koustik, whose best event is the 200 fly. Koustik went a PR 1:44.7 in that event earlier in November, and he was 1:58.1 in long course this summer.
Charlie Scheinfeld and Braden Vines are solid breaststrokers, with Scheinfeld at 54.6/1:59.0 and Vines at 56.0/2:00.6. Texas has been woefully unable to replace Will Licon on medley relays, and while Scheinfeld and Vines aren’t remotely at Licon’s level, they could certainly whittle down to usable medley times with another year of high school and a new training environment in Austin.