Measuring Elite Programs By NCAA Relay Qualifying (Women)

There are many different metrics that one could use to rank the eliteness of NCAA swim programs. As pointed out last year in our analysis of NCAA relay qualification, other sports like college football or basketball have a more definitive way of measuring top teams (such as conference championships and NCAA tournament qualifying).

Ranking swim programs has less clarity, due to many different issues. For one, the amount of stock put into conference championships varies greatly team-by-team and year-by-year. Going by number of individuals qualified for NCAAs is also a good measure, though it’s not exactly clear where to draw the line from average to elite.

Of course, going strictly off NCAA standings is the most standard way of ranking teams, but even that can have problems such as disqualifications, an inflow of diving points, and the possibility of an illness striking a team.

Though no system is perfect, ranking teams based off of how many relays they have qualified for the big meet is a great display of a team’s depth, and it draws a clear line between teams and won’t be impacted by a disqualification (with the amount of meets throughout the year where there’s an opportunity to qualify, rather than pinning everything on just the NCAA meet itself).

After this year’s NCAA Championship meets, we’ll combine number of swimmers invited, number of relays qualified, and the actual NCAA standings, along with any others that we think are worthy, and come up with an overall final power rankings for the season. While the final NCAA championship scoring will be the one that goes into the record books, we hope that our final stat-based power ranking can help smooth-out the data to try and eliminate outlier data or anomalies to give a better view of the overall NCAA season.

BEST-OF-THE-BEST

Teams in this category qualified all 5 of their relays for the NCAA under the NCAA Automatic Qualifying Standard. These teams took no shortcuts on depth or provisional entries, and even without having to, were still good enough to earn automatic entries to NCAAs for all 5 relays.

11 teams fall into this category for the 2017 Women’s NCAA Championships:

ALL FIVE AUTO RELAY QUALIFICATIONS

Stanford University

University of California, Berkeley

University of Southern California

University of Virginia

University of Texas at Austin

North Carolina State University

Texas A&M University, College Station

University of Louisville

University of Arizona

University of Wisconsin, Madison

University of Georgia

GIVE THEM A LANE

There are eleven more teams who also qualified 5 NCAA relays, but didn’t qualify them all with automatic entry times. We feel that this is the one spot where it’s important to distinguish between the two, because while still challenging, NCAA provisional standards do provide more leeway. Still, these teams have a lane and a chance to score in all 5 relays, which is important.

Among these eleven teams, Michigan, Auburn, Tennessee and North Carolina needed to only use one provisional standard for NCAAs.

ALL FIVE RELAYS QUALIFIED, NOT ALL AUTO

University of Michigan

University of Minnesota, Twin Cities

Boise State University

University of Missouri, Columbia

Auburn University

University of California, Los Angeles

University of Tennessee, Knoxville

University of Notre Dame

Ohio State University

University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Arizona State University

4 RELAYS ENTERED

Only two teams qualified four relays for NCAAs. Kentucky had three of their four relays qualify with automatic times, while only one of Florida International’s was auto.

FOUR RELAYS QUALIFIED

University of Kentucky

Florida International University

3 RELAYS ENTERED

Four teams qualified three relays, including Indiana who managed an automatic standard in all three. Their weakness in sprint freestyle shows, failing to qualify in both the 200 free and 400 free relay. That’s a big hit for a team that will be battling in the points race with teams with five qualified relays, as Indiana was 7th overall year. As a point of reference, Alabama, the next highest placing team from last year who only qualified three relays, was 28th in 2016. Neither Duke or Florida State scored at all last year.

THREE RELAYS QUALIFIED

Indiana University, Bloomington

Duke University

Florida State University

University of Alabama

2 RELAYS ENTERED

Three teams come in with two relays entered. Both Akron and Virginia Tech stay put with the same number as last year, while Florida Gulf Coast sees a big improvement after qualifying zero relays in 2016.

TWO RELAYS QUALIFIED

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

University of Akron

Florida Gulf Coast University

1 RELAY ENTERED

At the bottom of the list we find one small program and one bigger one. Denver qualifies one relay just like last year, while Florida surprisingly dropped from four last year to just one this year. The Gators scored in two of those relays, totalling eight of their 63.5 total points at the end of the meet. It’s clear the loss of many seniors, especially freestyler Natalie Hinds, has hurt them this year.

ONE RELAY QUALIFIED

University of Florida

University of Denver

THE FULL RANKINGS

Below, see the team rankings based on number of relays eligible to swim at NCAAs, and then by number of relays with automatic times.

RANK

TEAM

RELAYS INVITED

QS

PS

1

University of Southern California

5

5

0

1

University of Georgia

5

5

0

1

University of California, Berkeley

5

5

0

1

University of Virginia

5

5

0

1

University of Texas at Austin

5

5

0

1

North Carolina State University

5

5

0

1

Stanford University

5

5

0

1

Texas A&M University, College Station

5

5

0

1

University of Louisville

5

5

0

1

University of Arizona

5

5

0

1

University of Wisconsin, Madison

5

5

0

12

University of Michigan

5

4

1

12

Auburn University

5

4

1

12

University of Tennessee, Knoxville

5

4

1

12

University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

5

4

1

16

University of Minnesota, Twin Cities

5

3

2

16

University of Missouri, Columbia

5

3

2

18

Boise State University

5

2

3

18

University of California, Los Angeles

5

2

3

18

University of Notre Dame

5

2

3

21

Ohio State University

5

1

4

21

Arizona State University

5

1

4

23

University of Kentucky

4

3

1

24

Florida International University

4

1

3

25

Indiana University, Bloomington

3

3

0

26

Duke University

3

2

1

26

Florida State University

3

2

1

28

University of Alabama

3

1

2

29

University of Akron

2

1

1

29

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

2

1

1

29

Florida Gulf Coast University

2

1

1

32

University of Florida

1

1

0

33

University of Denver

1

0

1

 

 

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Foreign Embassy

Wow Florida with 1?? That is a big surprise especially considering the men’s depth and talent coming in…

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About James Sutherland

James Sutherland

James is currently a university swimmer for the Laurentian Voyageurs in Sudbury, Ontario, Canada. He is studying economics. Along with swimming, he also loves hockey. He's in his 14th season as a competitive swimmer. Best Times (SCM): 50 FR - 24.70 100 FR - 53.88 200 FR - 1:56.12 1500 FR - 16:45.97 100 BK - …

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