Who Got Faster? Improvement at D1 Women’s Conference Meets

by Andrew Mering 28

February 26th, 2018 College, News

All the D1 women’s conference meets have been completed. We know who won the meets. We know who lost. But many swimmers and programs don’t measure success by how their team placed at the meet or if they gained 50 points over last year. Many people just want to go faster. Maybe their top swimmer is injured. Maybe their recruiting class was down this year. Even for top teams, simply dropping time and performing well is enough to make a meet a success.

Methodology

So how do we measure who dropped the most time? It’s a more complicated question than it seems. First the methodology I used.

  1. Grab every conference and nationals time from the last 4 years
  2. Find a swimmer’s previous best time in an event at a conference or national meet
  3. For times at conference meets this year, compare to a swimmer’s previous best conference/nationals time. If there is no previous best time move on

There are pros and cons to this method. By limiting previous best times to conference and nationals, we can be pretty sure that the swimmers baseline time was a rested swim that they were focused on. (There are always a few swimmers  who enter the 50 and completely sandbag it. The most egregious tanking was tossed as outliers). This means we’re not giving credit to swimmers who pick up a new event for getting way faster when the main explanation for the improvement was a change of focus. (for example, I switched from the 500 to the 200 IM my senior year in college. My 200 IM at conference was a 5.5 second PR, but most of that improvement was because I’d never swum it rested before. My team’s improvement percentage shouldn’t benefit from this. If I had tapered it before, the improvement would have been much smaller. Therefore, this time isn’t included). This method has the downside of leaving out best times achieved at mid season meets, but that’s a small price to pay for relatively clean data.

Another flaw is that freshman performing extremely well makes a team do worse in this metric. Fast freshman times mean that swimmer’s baseline times are better, so it’s harder to drop time from them. Also because high school and club times aren’t included, team’s don’t get credit for freshman PR’s. Similarly, slow freshman times followed by fast times later will make a team look good. This isn’t a fatal flaw but it is worth keeping in mind while reviewing this data. Until there’s a single unified database for all swim times, I’m not sure there’s an easy fix to this issue.

Results

On average, swimmers added .02% to their conference/nationals PR’s at conference meets this year (standard deviation 1.81%, median -.09%). There were 6710 data points. 3511 performances or 52% were faster than their old PR. The data followed a pretty symmetric normal distribution (if anything there’s a slight skew to the right. positive is slower, negative is faster):

The top performing teams were mostly smaller teams from small conferences. Some, like Indiana State (dropped an average of 2.04%), are new programs. The top performing major conference team was Penn State. Their swimmers dropped an average of .95% from their times. SEC champs Texas A&M also performed well. Their swimmers dropped an average of .89% from their times and 76% of their swims were an improvement. The fact that nationals may be a bigger target meet for A&M than SEC’s makes this performance more impressive. Other teams who are definitely focused on nationals are Stanford and California. Stanford managed to drop time on average (.27%), but only 59% of their swims were faster. Cal added a bit of time (.12%) and dropped in only 49% of their swims. Both team’s numbers should improve once the get a chance to swim again at nationals.

A lot has been made of the improvement by Virginia swimmers under their new coach this year, and the numbers back that up. They were great. Virginia swimmers dropped an average of .7% from their times and 79% of their swims were faster. However, they were still out dropped by their conference rival NC State who dropped an average of .88% from their times. NC State’s underwhelming performance at their conference meet was mostly down to injuries to key swimmers. The swimmers that were able to make it to the meet actually performed extremely well.

Data

Negative is faster, positive is slower.

School Average Change Number of Times How Many Dropped Time Conference
Virginia MI -3.07% 14 93% CCSA
Fairfield -2.17% 35 83% MAAC
Indiana State -2.04% 32 94% Missouri Valley
American -1.62% 8 88% The Patriot League
Saint Peters -1.41% 13 62% MAAC
CSUB -1.19% 29 79% WAC
Bryant U W -1.02% 31 77% Northeast Conf
Towson -1.01% 36 81% Colonial Athletic Assoc
San Jose St -1.00% 33 70% Mountain West
Penn St -0.95% 21 67% Big Ten
Monmouth -0.94% 19 74% MAAC
St. Bonaventure -0.91% 28 71% Atlantic 10
Texas A&M -0.89% 29 76% SEC
George Mason -0.89% 24 67% Atlantic 10
NC State -0.88% 22 82% ACC
Seattle U W -0.75% 33 70% WAC
GWU -0.74% 38 74% Atlantic 10
UCSB -0.72% 64 75% Mountain Pacific Sports
Colorado St. -0.71% 22 73% Mountain West
Fresno State -0.71% 47 70% Mountain West
Air Force W -0.70% 39 72% Mountain West
Georgia Tech -0.70% 36 72% ACC
Virginia -0.70% 29 79% ACC
Ohio St -0.69% 41 76% Big Ten
Pittsburgh -0.63% 30 73% ACC
Indiana -0.63% 46 67% Big Ten
Minnesota -0.62% 47 60% Big Ten
Kentucky -0.61% 38 76% SEC
Duke -0.59% 32 69% ACC
Tennessee -0.59% 25 64% SEC
Eastern Mich -0.52% 29 76% MAC
Arizona St -0.52% 27 70% Pacific 12
Loyola MD -0.48% 36 58% The Patriot League
Rhode Island -0.45% 31 68% Atlantic 10
Florida -0.44% 34 71% SEC
Delaware -0.44% 25 64% Colonial Athletic Assoc
Vanderbilt -0.43% 28 68% SEC
Fla Atlantic W -0.40% 33 64% Conference USA
Wisconsin -0.40% 39 62% Big Ten
Boston U -0.40% 24 58% The Patriot League
Cleveland St -0.39% 27 70% Horizon League
Missouri -0.39% 30 57% SEC
UNC -0.39% 27 56% ACC
U.S. Navy -0.38% 42 62% The Patriot League
La Salle -0.38% 33 55% Atlantic 10
Denver -0.37% 46 61% The Summit League
Liberty -0.37% 42 69% CCSA
UNLV W -0.37% 21 62% Mountain West
Louisville -0.36% 27 59% ACC
TCU -0.35% 45 58% Big 12
Boston College -0.35% 28 57% ACC
Wis.- Milwaukee -0.34% 38 68% Horizon League
Florida Intl -0.34% 47 53% Conference USA
Michigan St -0.32% 35 57% Big Ten
Notre Dame -0.32% 31 61% ACC
Wright State -0.32% 20 50% Horizon League
St. Louis -0.31% 37 65% Atlantic 10
Colgate -0.30% 31 61% The Patriot League
Arizona -0.29% 42 57% Pacific 12
Wagner -0.29% 40 60% Northeast Conf
Southern Cali -0.27% 38 55% Pacific 12
Princeton -0.27% 27 67% Ivy League
Youngstown St -0.27% 21 71% Horizon League
Stanford -0.27% 37 59% Pacific 12
Lehigh -0.27% 33 70% The Patriot League
Northern Iowa -0.26% 45 56% Missouri Valley
St. Francis Pa. -0.25% 35 57% Northeast Conf
Pacific -0.24% 42 62% Mountain Pacific Sports
Army -0.24% 35 57% The Patriot League
Auburn -0.23% 31 61% SEC
Nebraska -0.23% 45 56% Big Ten
LSU -0.22% 29 55% SEC
Alabama -0.20% 36 53% SEC
Michigan -0.19% 43 53% Big Ten
Xavier -0.19% 44 61% Big East
North Florida -0.19% 31 61% CCSA
Cal Poly -0.19% 51 57% Mountain Pacific Sports
Virginia Tech -0.19% 30 63% ACC
Boise St -0.17% 37 62% Mountain West
Florida St -0.16% 30 63% ACC
Hawaii -0.15% 42 62% Mountain Pacific Sports
Akron -0.15% 38 61% MAC
Vermont -0.14% 58 57% America East
Illinois St -0.14% 45 62% Missouri Valley
Connecticut -0.13% 35 40% American Athletic Conf
Duquesne -0.13% 47 60% Atlantic 10
Canisius -0.12% 18 61% MAAC
Arkansas -0.12% 34 50% SEC
Villanova -0.11% 42 60% Big East
Buffalo -0.11% 43 56% MAC
Iona Coll -0.11% 34 53% MAAC
New Mexico -0.11% 29 52% Mountain West
Northwestern -0.09% 32 56% Big Ten
Holy Cross -0.08% 25 44% The Patriot League
Ark.-Little Rock -0.08% 55 56% Missouri Valley
Georgia -0.08% 32 63% SEC
Wyoming W -0.07% 34 56% Mountain West
Iowa -0.07% 50 60% Big Ten
Campbell -0.06% 47 60% CCSA
New Mexico St -0.06% 57 54% WAC
Florida Gulf -0.04% 40 60% CCSA
St. Francis -0.03% 21 52% Northeast Conf
Iowa State -0.03% 41 59% Big 12
Purdue -0.01% 44 48% Big Ten
Northeastern 0.00% 27 44% Colonial Athletic Assoc
Columbia 0.01% 26 31% Ivy League
Bucknell 0.01% 37 51% The Patriot League
South Carolina 0.02% 38 42% SEC
Davidson 0.03% 32 47% Atlantic 10
Brigham Young 0.05% 29 45% Mountain Pacific Sports
Siena 0.08% 38 58% MAAC
SIUC W 0.10% 56 48% Missouri Valley
California 0.12% 45 49% Pacific 12
Manhattan 0.13% 30 47% MAAC
Rice 0.14% 40 50% Conference USA
Dartmouth 0.14% 21 52% Ivy League
Fordham 0.14% 35 51% Atlantic 10
UNC Wilmington 0.15% 31 45% Colonial Athletic Assoc
Washington St. 0.17% 21 43% Pacific 12
Miami Ohio 0.18% 37 49% MAC
Wis.- Green Bay 0.20% 28 54% Horizon League
UCLA 0.21% 45 44% Pacific 12
East Carolina 0.21% 41 46% American Athletic Conf
Idaho 0.23% 42 48% WAC
Yale 0.24% 33 42% Ivy League
Providence 0.25% 43 49% Big East
San Diego St 0.26% 33 52% Mountain West
South Dakota St 0.28% 40 40% The Summit League
Lafayette 0.30% 25 40% The Patriot League
Cincinnati 0.30% 38 39% American Athletic Conf
UC Davis 0.30% 33 42% Mountain Pacific Sports
Marshall 0.30% 47 36% Conference USA
IUPUI 0.30% 34 50% Horizon League
Missouri St W 0.32% 37 43% Missouri Valley
Oregon St 0.33% 12 58% Pacific 12
Gardner-Webb 0.34% 60 40% CCSA
UN Omaha 0.34% 46 43% The Summit League
Seton Hall 0.35% 37 49% Big East
Northern Colo 0.36% 24 54% WAC
Miami FL 0.37% 20 35% ACC
Sacred Heart 0.37% 41 51% Northeast Conf
San Diego 0.38% 28 36% Mountain Pacific Sports
Butler 0.38% 35 46% Big East
Illinois-Chicago 0.38% 43 40% Horizon League
Pepperdine 0.38% 46 39% Independent
Rider 0.40% 32 50% MAAC
Harvard 0.43% 30 30% Ivy League
Northern Ariz 0.44% 37 38% WAC
Eastern Ill 0.45% 25 48% The Summit League
Oakland 0.46% 37 30% Horizon League
Utah 0.48% 41 34% Pacific 12
North Texas 0.49% 50 40% Conference USA
Loy. Marymount 0.50% 44 32% CAC
West Virginia 0.51% 43 53% Big 12
Illinois 0.52% 38 34% Big Ten
Cornell 0.54% 20 35% Ivy League
Texas 0.55% 36 42% Big 12
William & Mary 0.57% 37 38% Colonial Athletic Assoc
UMBC 0.58% 56 36% America East
Toledo 0.58% 35 37% MAC
James Madison 0.59% 32 38% Colonial Athletic Assoc
UNC Asheville 0.59% 58 47% CCSA
SMU 0.61% 39 33% American Athletic Conf
Drexel 0.61% 28 46% Colonial Athletic Assoc
New Hampshire 0.62% 31 35% America East
South Dakota 0.65% 31 16% The Summit League
Marist 0.68% 26 35% MAAC
Old Dominion W 0.69% 17 35% Conference USA
Maine 0.72% 59 46% America East
Mt St Marys 0.75% 35 46% Northeast Conf
Niagara 0.78% 25 56% MAAC
Richmond 0.80% 33 30% Atlantic 10
Brown 0.81% 37 38% Ivy League
Central Conn St 0.83% 28 18% Northeast Conf
Houston 0.84% 33 39% American Athletic Conf
Nevada 0.84% 18 22% Mountain West
Incarnate Word 0.88% 31 26% CCSA
Tulane 0.89% 37 24% American Athletic Conf
Massachusetts 0.89% 32 34% Atlantic 10
Grand Canyon 0.92% 28 32% WAC
Bowling Green 0.93% 23 43% MAC
Ball State 0.97% 40 20% MAC
Penn 0.98% 26 23% Ivy League
Howard 1.01% 14 29% CCSA
Binghamton 1.01% 52 29% America East
Georgetown 1.01% 51 43% Big East
Western Ill 1.02% 33 36% The Summit League
Evansville W 1.06% 39 26% Missouri Valley
Ohio 1.15% 46 28% MAC
Rutgers 1.22% 24 33% Big Ten
Kansas 1.27% 48 33% Big 12
GA Southern 1.57% 33 21% CCSA
LIU Brooklyn 3.52% 9 22% Northeast Conf

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Al Albertson

Didn’t Virginia rest/taper for dual meets in January? At some point all this rest will catch up with them. Smoke and mirrors.

A non-e mouse

This is my new favorite swimswam comment section meme

JimSwim

But Schooling is so great during warmup

Wahoo Fan

Al, you are just a bore. It’s your one note you love to play. They didn’t. You know it. Please some new keys to tickle.

Swimsquare

Looks like the magic is still with NC State!

FLwolfpack

Virginia is the “new” NC State, everyone claims they are resting in season. And everyone gets tired of hearing about them.

Major props to Guntoro and the rest of the NC State staff. A lot of pressure on his shoulders for the Pack sprinters to not have a down year, and he’s delivered! Sign of a strong program when you can handle key coaching turnover. Now he will have to maintain recruiting.

ACC FAN

Virginia Can’t be the new “nc state” when their entire program is just a cheap knock off NC States program. Kudos to DeSorbo for all his success (can’t deny it) but also take note that he didn’t recruit any of his superstars. This “DeSorbo effect” will be seen in 3-4 years when it’s actually his recruits and own training (and not nc States training lol). Congrats gonna state, they’ve overcome a lot this season with more injuiries than anyone, they’ll be back, and Guntoro is ready for big things! ND, FSU and Louisville will be contenders as well.

DravenOP

How much have you had to drink tonight?

Al Albertson

Absolutely agree on the cheap knockoff. What a farce. Let’s see if Va can actually recruit. I’m not sure they have the allure of other programs. It’s hard to build from the bottom. That will be the true test.

paloozas

maddie donohoe (2019) – arguably the best distance freestyler in the 2019 class
ella nelson (2019) – jr worlds medalist in the 200 breast
jack walker (2019) – 1:33 in 200 free as a hs junior
henry schutte & max edwards – both with huge improvement curves

plus, uva has the academics & facilities that nc state doesn’t quite have

i’d say that’s pretty good for his second year in recruiting

Wahoo Fan

Al,
You just make me laugh. Truly unreal.

Virginia Fan

ACC FAN, I remember when you used to love Todd…

Flwolfpack

I was referring to the resting claim. Having said that, Virginia’s Women has and will be the standard for a while now. They are and have been more dominant than the NC State men are right now in conference. And I wouldn’t knock DeSorbo’s recruiting. He has gotten some good ‘19 kids on the men’s and women’s side to commit to from NC. It will be war going forward on the recruiting well as state also recruits VA well. And while I do think his impact this year is overstated (he inherited a lot on both sides), i also think it would be foolish to discount what he is about to do. But great programs are built on great rivalries.… Read more »

dmswim

You can’t call Virginia women a cheap knockoff when they have 18 ACC team titles. NC State beat them once in the past decade at the ACC Championships. Win 9 in a row and then we’ll talk about who’s the knockoff.

Wahoo Fan

Yup. 18 to 1. UVA was it with Bernardino, Busch and now better than ever with DeSorbo.

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