How Does The Girls Class of 2025 Stack Up Against The Star-Studded 2015 Class?

It’s a bit jaw-dropping to look at the swimmers in the girls’ high school class of 2025 and internalize the fact that last season, there were several high school sophomores who could’ve made a significant impact at the 2023 Women’s NCAA Championships three years out from them being eligible.

But that’s the case with the talent-stacked class of 2025, with our Way Too Early recruiting ranks dropping on Monday morning.

The class already has two World Championship medalists in Alex Shackell and Claire Weinstein, plus National High School Record holder Teagan O’Dell and some other names who have made a national impact early on in their career, including 2022-23 U.S. Junior National Team members Lilla Bognar and Chloe Kim.

It’s still incredibly early, with these swimmers having two full seasons of racing before they’ll begin college in two years’ time, but the high-level ability at the pointy end of the class begs the question: Is it the best ever?

SwimSwam began ranking recruiting classes in 2012, starting off with ranks of the 2013 recruiting class when they were high school juniors, while the Way Too Early rankings during the athlete’s sophomore year didn’t start until 2018 (class of 2020).

So with the caveat that we don’t have sophomore ranks or times for some of the earlier classes, looking at the past 12 classes on the girls’ side, it’s clear that one stands out above the rest: The class of 2015.

Both 2013 (Missy Franklin, Lia Neal, Olivia Smoliga) and 2014 (Simone Manuel, Janet Hu, Ally Howe) had some standouts, but the class of 2015 really jumps off the page as the gold standard.

Leading off with arguably the greatest female swimmer of all-time is a good start, as Katie Ledecky headlined the class, and at the time of the rankings being published, she was already an individual Olympic champion, world record holder and multi-time world champion.

Four more swimmers in the class went on to win multiple individual NCAA titles, setting U.S. Open and American Records on the way: #2 Abbey Weitzeil, #3 Kathleen Baker, #6 Ella Eastin and #9 Lilly King. Weitzeil, Baker and King also won multiple Olympic medals during their careers (with Ledecky, Weitzeil and King still active).

The other two swimmers ranked inside the top six, #4 Katie McLaughlin and #5 Amy Bilquist, both finished as high as second individually at NCAAs and were a part of multiple title-winning relays.

Ledecky was already a bonafide star, but it’s fair to say that Weitzeil, Baker, McLaughlin, Eastin and King turned out as good or better than anyone could’ve hoped in college (not factoring in some of them turning pro early which hurt their total scoring).

Rank Class of 2015 Class of 2025
1 Katie Ledecky Alex Shackell
2 Abbey Weitzeil Teagan O’Dell
3 Kathleen Baker Claire Weinstein
4 Katie McLaughlin Madi Mintenko
5 Amy Bilquist Lilla Bognar
6 Ella Eastin Addie Robillard
7 Quinn Carrozza Annie Jia
8 Taylor Garcia Raya Mellott
9 Lilly King Lynsey Bowen
10 Nora McCullagh Chloe Kim

Comparing them to the class of 2025 is hypothetical, given that we don’t know how the current group will blossom in the future, but there are some interesting notes that tell us just how good the 2025 crop is.

Comparing Class Times

  • As a sophomore, Alex Shackell is already faster than Abbey Weitzeil was as a junior in the 50 and 100 free.
  • As a sophomore, Alex Shackell is already faster than Katie McLaughlin was as a junior in the 100 and 200 fly.
  • As a sophomore, Teagan O’Dell is already faster than Kathleen Baker was as a junior in the 100 and 200 back, and she’s faster than both Baker and Ella Eastin were in the 200 IM.
  • As a sophomore, Raya Mellott is already faster than Lilly King was as a junior in the 100 breast, while the class is full of swimmers faster than King was in the 200 breast as a junior (2:11.17), including Addie Robillard (2:08.40) being almost three seconds clear.
  • Eastin, who was a force in the 400 IM throughout her career, was only a quarter of a second faster as a junior (4:05.25) than Lilla Bognar is as a sophomore (4:05.50).
  • Katie Ledecky as a junior would be the fastest in this class in the 200, 500, 1000 and 1650 free, which is no surprise, though a margin of just over four seconds on Claire Weinstein in the 500 free is relatively close given Ledecky’s dominance.

All of these time comparisons come with the caveat that swimming has gotten faster as a whole over the last nine years, but we still can’t ignore the favorable comparisons that this class has to a group of Olympians and NCAA record holders despite having a one-year disadvantage.

The class of 2015 had arguably the best sprint freestyler (Weitzeil), distance freestyler (Ledecky), backstroker (Baker), breaststroker (King) and IMer (Eastin) of a generation of NCAA swimming, so comparing any group of athletes to them is somewhat unfair.

But do Shackell (sprint free/fly), Weinstein (distance free), O’Dell (back/IM) and Mellott/Robillard (breast) have the potential to reach that level down the line? It’s certainly possible. Will they? We won’t have a full dataset to revisit this discussion until 2029, but it’s up for debate.


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3 months ago

I believe this is an exhaustive list of all swimmers who have broken 1:44.0 in high school with 18 swimmers in total. Class of 2015, 2021, 2022, and 2024 have two each, none have three, and 2025 has four.

If only counting swimmers who did it before starting junior year, Katie Ledecky (1:42.96), Isabel Ivey (1:43.64), and the four ‘25 girls are the only 6 to have done it to my knowledge.

Dagny Knutson ‘10(?), 1:42.81
Missy Franklin ‘13, 1:41.81
Simone Manuel ‘14, 1:43.00
Katie Ledecky ‘15, 1:41.55
Kathleen Baker ‘15, 1:43.61
Isabel Ivey ‘19, 1:43.64
Regan Smith ‘20, 1:43.27
Torri Huske ‘21, 1:43.23
Gretchen Walsh ‘21, 1:43.75
Claire Curran… Read more »

3 months ago

Please bump Lilly King in Class of 2025 up.

Reply to  Bobthebuilderrocks
3 months ago

It was a joke since Lily King is in the class of 2025

Pacific Whirl
3 months ago

Class of 2020 and 2022 are more stellar than this class.

3 months ago

We have been spoiled with “generational talents” almost as an annual tradition in these rankings (Bella Sims, Katie Grimes, Claire Curzan, Torri Huske/Gretchen Walsh) but I’m not sure there is a trio that is as dominant as Shackell/O’Dell/Weinstein were for as young as they are. 2025 class for the women could go down in the books (although the 2025 men’s class is arguably more impressive—great group of swimmers we got for 2025).

Casual swim fan
3 months ago

If I’m not mistaken, Alex Shackell isn’t a gold medalist. She earned silver this summer on the relay but not gold

Reply to  Casual swim fan
3 months ago


3 months ago

It says here that the top recruit in the class is 2016 was Erika Brown but Brown was completely unranked, with PBS of 49.8 in the 100 free, 55.9 in the 100 fly, and 22.9 in the 50 free

Joel Lin
Reply to  jeff
3 months ago

Jumping over to the men’s side it was always notable to me that Justin Ress was a 46 mid SCY best time in the 100 free as a high schooler.

41 point at NCS. It’s about what you do to improve & compete.

Paul Silver
Reply to  Joel Lin
3 months ago

Ress did split 19.7 and 43.7 on relays in HS. Usually swam 200 Bk (1:44) and 200 IM (1:47) on last day of meets vs. 100 Free. Did pretty well as a college sprinter. Great relay swimmer always.

About James Sutherland

James Sutherland

James swam five years at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, specializing in the 200 free, back and IM. He finished up his collegiate swimming career in 2018, graduating with a bachelor's degree in economics. In 2019 he completed his graduate degree in sports journalism. Prior to going to Laurentian, James swam …

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