NCAA 5th Year Index: Nearly All Power 5 Programs Have 5th Year Swimmers/Divers

by Spencer Penland 28

October 26th, 2021 College, News

The 2021-2022 NCAA season brings a new element into the fold with the introduction of a 5th year of eligibility for athletes due to the complications resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. This rule change means that swimmers and divers whose seasons were disrupted by the pandemic have the option to take advantage of an extra (5th) season of NCAA eligibility.

Naturally, the addition of 5th year swimmers and divers makes a significant impact on this season. It presents the possibility for teams to hang on to star swimmers/divers for an extra year, while simultaneously bringing in high-impact freshmen.

Many of the NCAAs top swimmers and divers from last year elected to use their 5th year of eligibility. There were some high-profile 2020-21 seniors that rejected the opportunity to come back. UVA’s Paige Madden, who won the 200, 500, and 1650 free at last year’s NCAA Championships, and was a member of Virginia’s winning 800 free relay, declined to come back to the NCAA for a 5th year. It’s possible part of Madden’s decision may have come from a desire to shift into a more meters-focused phase of her career. She’s coming off an incredible summer, where she qualified for the U.S. Olympic Team in the women’s 400 free, and was a member of the U.S. 4×200 free relay, winning a Silver medal. Madden is also now competing in the ISL.

Similarly, Cal’s Ryan Hoffer, who won the men’s 50 free, 100 free, and 100 fly at last year’s NCAAs, has concluded his NCAA career and is now in the ISL. Some other swimmers who declined their 5th year eligibility and are now in the ISL include Georgia’s Camden Murphy and Javier Acevedo. Ohio State’s Paul DeLakis didn’t use his 5th year of eligibility, and announced his retirement from swimming.

Here is our list of the 5th year swimmers and divers in the NCAA this season (2021-2022). The list includes Power 5 programs and mid-major teams that scored at NCAAs last year. It’s sorted alphabetically by school. If we missed an athlete, feel free to let us know down below.



Notably, nearly all Power 5 programs (ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12, SEC) have at least one 5th year athlete on their roster. Interestingly, one of the teams that doesn’t have any 5th years this season is the defending women’s NCAA champions Virginia. The Cavaliers had seniors Paige Madden, Kyla Valls, Jocelyn Porter, and Caroline Gmelich on their NCAAs roster last year, and none will be back this season.

This is an example of how the introduction of 5th years changes the dynamics of NCAA swimming & diving. UVA won last year’s title by a huge margin, so graduating a few swimmers normally wouldn’t necessarily be a huge deal. On the other hand, NC State and Texas both return key 5th years, and Stanford returns Brooke Forde, finally gets Taylor Ruck back, and brings in a show-stopper of a freshmen class.

In This Story

Leave a Reply

Notify of
newest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Mr. Sir
1 month ago

Jaycee Yehger is a grad transfer from Harvard on UVA women’s team.

Lisa Schaffer
1 month ago

You missed Alex Liang taking a 5th year at Stanford. Join his Official Fan Club to stay up to date!

1 month ago

Uva has 5th year Jaycee Yehger, a transfer from harvard. Although this would be her 4th year of eligibility.

Last edited 1 month ago by DoubleCheck
Reply to  DoubleCheck
1 month ago

This list is focused on those athletes using the 5th year of eligibility.

1 month ago
Last edited 1 month ago by SwimFan49
Reply to  SwimFan49
1 month ago

Cameron is technically not a 5th year. He’s a graduate transfer in terms of his academics, but because he didn’t swim last season, this is only his 4th year of eligibility. But, he won’t get that bonus year, also because he didn’t swim last season.

1 month ago

I think Robin Neumann is using her 5th year of eligibility at Cal.

1 month ago

You missed Gabe Castano and Will Roberson from penn state. 2 Ncaa qualifiers

Working swim mom
Reply to  PsuFan
1 month ago

And I think they have at least one from the women’s team who is taking a 5th year as well… Not sure Castano is, however.

Reply to  Working swim mom
1 month ago

Yes, maddie cooke is taking fifth yr

1 month ago

Missing Gil Kiesler and Tyler Sesvold from Alabama.

NC Fan
Reply to  Swimm
1 month ago

With Gil being a transfer from NC State

James Beam
1 month ago

Question….how does this work from a scholarship perspective? Does it count towards the current allotment or does a school use money for 5th years and get less money to give out in future years?

Reply to  James Beam
1 month ago

For this year only, it doesn’t count against the cap, but schools still have to pay for it. Except if they transfer, then this year counts against the cap.

In future years, the scholarship will count against the cap.