Open Season on College Recruiting; Top 10 Recruits for Women

July 1st, 2012 was the opening of the 2012-2013 college recruiting season where NCAA coaches were first able to legally call incoming seniors who they hope will attend their institutions.

Coaches are now allowed to make one phone call a week, and send an unlimited amount of mail and email, to seniors who will be graduating in the spring (or, in some cases, at the end of the fall semester).

And in Olympic years, the feeding-frenzy is even bigger. The recruiting period opens while in Omaha, and don’t think that coaches don’t take advantage. Every high school senior at that meet can expect a new watching-partner for a race or two, because if a high school senior is good enough to qualify for Trials, there’s a coach there who is going to try and recruit them.

Here’s our top10 recruits for the class of 2013, for the women. We’ll focus on Americans, because it’s never a certainty what international swimmers will end up doing. If you would like to announce a verbal committment to SwimSwam, please email us at [email protected]


1. Missy Franklin, Colorado – What more really needs to be said about the world’s best teenage swimmer (if not female swimmer, period) Missy Franklin. As a freshman, she would be a near-lock to place top three in the 50/100/200 free, 100/200 back, and probably quite a few other events that she just hasn’t raced often enough to know (100 fly/200 fly, 500 free, 200/400 IM). Keep in mind that her yards swims are done largely in Colorado altitude, as well. School’s that she’s said she’ll take visits to are Stanford, Georgia, and Cal.

  • 200 y back (1:51.07/freshman)
  • 100 y back (52.30/sophomore)
  • 200 y free (1:43.15)
  • 100 y free (47.94/freshman)
  • 50 free (22.25/sophomore)

2. Lia Neal, New York – Lia Neal is the other “Olympian” in this class aside from Franklin, having placed 4th at the Olympic Trials in the 100 free and earned herself a relay spot for London. She is right along Vredeveld as the best 1-2 sprint combination we’ve ever seen coming out of high school. Her experience at the Olympics is going to be invaluable, and she still has mega-potential to improve. The only knock against her is that she’s going to be good enough to go pro before finishing her college career (and hasn’t been as adamant about finishing all four years of eligibility as Franklin has been – though she probably hasn’t been asked as much until now either).

  • 100 y free (48.13/sophomore)
  • 200 y free (1:45.99/sophomore)
  • 50 y free (22.56/sophomore)
  • 100 y fly (54.50/sophomore)
  • 200 y IM (2:03.19/sophomore)

3. Emily Cameron, Pennsylvania – In another year, Cameron might be closer to the number 4 or 5 recruit in the country. But in this year, where the breaststroke class is so thin, she carries enormous value for teams that are in need (like the Cal women). Only one other junior last year was within a second of her 1:00.54 in the 100, but she’s really demonstrated amazing versatility in the last year to rocket her stock up. She broke the Pennsylvania 50 free State Record with a 22.75, has a 49.4 in the 100 free, and a 1:57 in the 200 IM as well. She’s a 5-relay swimmer as a freshman for many programs.

  • 100 y breast (1:00.54)
  • 50 y free (22.75)
  • 100 y free (49.45/sophomore)
  • 200 y breast (2:13.60)
  • 200 y free (1:49.02/mid-season)
  • 200 y IM (1:57.7/sophomore

4. Kristen Vredeveld, Tennessee – Out of the famed Baylor program, Vredeveld gets high-honors as being the top yards-sprinter in the class, to date. Given the history of Baylor School athletes to stay in the Eastern half of the country, for teams in the SEC and ACC, this signing is likely going to be a primary objective. Her older brother Nathan is a senior at Virginia, and this program has sent some elite swimmers to both Georgia and Tennessee the last few years. She’s already got multiple state titles and NCSA Junior National titles under her belt, and she still seems to still have some room for improvement (she’s got a frame that could handle a little more musculature still). If she can even make small improvements next year, she’ll be in the conversation with the likes of Maddy Schaeffer, Kara Lynn Joyce, and Amanda Weir for the best high school sprinters in the last decade.

  • 50 y free (22.17/sophomore)
  • 100 y free (48.32/sophomore)
  • 200 y free (1:45.63/sophomore)
  • 100 y back (54.52/sophomore)
  • 200 y IM (2:02.20)

5. Olivia Smoliga, Illinois – Smoliga doesn’t quite have the versatility as a swimmer like Missy Franklin, but it can’t be overlooked that she also broke a minute long course in the 100 back at the Olympic Trials. Aside from her backstrokes (she probably has a top-8 200 as well in yards, but hasn’t swum it much in the last year), she’s a good enough sprinter to take either bookend of the medley relay in most programs. For teams who need premier backstrokers, Smoliga will be a huge consolation prize if they can’t land Franklin.

  • 100 y free (48.92)
  • 50 y free (22.55)
  • 200 y back (1:56.81/sophomore)

Next 5 Best:

  • Chelsea Chenault stalled a little bit in long course, but her yads swims have still soared as a junior. She was an Olympic Trials finalist in the 200 free.
  • Celina Li (California)– an Olympic Trials finalist in the 400 IM. Also the top butterfly recruit in the class.
  • Rachel Zilinskas & Leah Smith (Pennsylvania) – A pair of outstanding distance swimmers from the Pittsburgh area.
  • Kaitlyn Jones, out of Delaware, demonstrates her impressive versatility with a 1:58.4 in the 200 yard IM. She has juniors cut in 9 events

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9 years ago

I wonder if Camille Adams or Breeja would have made your top 5 or 10 a couple years ago?

Craig H
Reply to  joeb
9 years ago

That’s a silly question. Wasn’t Breeja like a 1:02 100 breast and 23-mid 50 free coming out of high school? Those are solid times, but there are dozens of other girls going similar times across the country. I don’t think anyone (aside from those who knew her) could have predicted how well she’d soar once she got to college

Reply to  Craig H
9 years ago

I don’t know if it’d work for or against her, but wasn’t that only after a relatively short HS swimming career? I’d assume it’d help, but ya never know.

The Grand Inquisitor
Reply to  joeb
9 years ago

Probably not, but Sarah Henry probably would have been.

9 years ago

Missy potentially going to Stanford kinda scares me. DANGER, DANGER DAVID NOLAN <a href=""MEEP MORP.

Reply to  junker23
9 years ago

Goddamn >. Well now that just looks silly.

joel lin
Reply to  junker23
9 years ago

Amen. Stanford is a great place for school. But if you want to cover faster, go to Cal.

9 years ago

Long course times are relevant too. agreed not as relevant – Neal and Franklin for instance are much better long course swimmers but have lots of upside in short course

9 years ago

KLJoyce isn’t part of conversation for best HS sprinters? 48 mid in the 100 and current 50 free record holder? (one of the oldest and one that withstood the suits era.)

9 years ago

Kristen Vredeveld is the diamond in the rough in this group. I would put my money on her for 2016 over anyone else (aside from Missy). And it looks like from a SCY perspective, she is faster than Lia.

bobo gigi
Reply to  Lea
9 years ago

Totally agree with you about Kristen Vredeveld. I’m just disappointed by her performances in LC. But in SCY she has already shown her giant talent. Two years ago I had said Lia Neal, Simone Manuel and Kristen Vredeveld were the future sprint specialists in USA. We’ll see who will have the best career in college and most important at the international level.

s gomez
9 years ago

“(if not female swimmer, period)” is this a menstration joke? i had to reread this to be sure. just pointing that out, otherwise a good read and discussion starter

Reply to  s gomez
9 years ago


Coming from less far out of left field, are you Selena Gomez?

9 years ago

Are we forgetting Liv Jensen (22.3/48.6) out of high school? Last I checked, she was a two-time NCAA Champ in the 50 on nearly every US Open and American Record relay in yards and helped the Bears to 3 titles in her 4 years in Berkeley.

Craig H
Reply to  Coach
9 years ago

Why are people harping about this? That one sentence is clearly not the focus of the article.
That said, Maddy Schaefer swam in the exact same section as Jensen and broke all of her records, so it’s fair to hold her at a slightly higher level.

bobo gigi
9 years ago

Yes if Missy wants to ruin her career she must go to Stanford. It’s clear she’ll go to Cal or to Georgia. I’m not a specialist of NCAA but she has many friends in both. If she wants to work her backstroke she’ll join Cal and she wants to work her freestyle she’ll join Georgia. Just 2 questions. Is there a risk for Missy to quit her great coach Todd Schmitz? Is there a risk for Missy to quit Colorado and her training at high altitude?

Reply to  bobo gigi
9 years ago

Why all the Stanford-bashing (note: I am not a Stanford Alum)? What parent or coach would not be thrilled to have a child or swimmer accepted into and choose to attend Stanford? I love fast swimming as much as anyone, but let’s get a grip, folks! Swimming is just one of the factors – and, as a parent, I would not want it to be near the top of the priority list for my child – that a swimmer considers when selecting schools.

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder of He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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