Power Ranks Revisited: 2021 Men’s NCAA Swimming & Diving Championships


  • When: Wednesday, March 24 – Saturday, March 27, 2021
  • Where: Greensboro Aquatic Center / Greensboro, NC (Eastern Time Zone)
  • Short course yards (SCY) format
  • Championship Central
  • Final Meet Results

The 2021 Men’s NCAA Swimming & Diving Championships are in the books, and it’s time to look back at how well our Power Ranks predicted the finish order.

First, here’s a link to our Power Ranks (with explanations of each pick), plus some of the key data points we used in creating them:


  1. Texas Longhorns
  2. Cal Golden Bears
  3. Florida Gators
  4. Georgia Bulldogs
  5. Louisville Cardinals
  6. Ohio State Buckeyes
  7. Indiana Hoosiers
  8. Texas A&M Aggies
  9. NC State Wolfpack
  10. Michigan Wolverines
  11. Alabama Crimson Tide
  12. Virginia Tech H2Okies
  13. Virginia Cavaliers
  14. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
  15. Arizona Wildcats
  16. Stanford Cardinal
  17. Purdue Boilermakers
  18. Missouri Tigers
  19. LSU Tigers
  20. USC Trojans
  21. Miami Hurricanes
  22. Notre Dame Fighting Irish
  23. Minnesota Golden Gophers
  24. Tennessee Volunteers
  25. Pitt Panthers


Points are included, and change from our power ranks is noted in red, green, or black based on falls, rises, or holds:

  1. Texas: 595 (-)
  2. California: 568 (-)
  3. Florida: 367 (-)
  4. Georgia: 268 (-)
  5. Louisville: 211 (-)
  6. Indiana: 207 (+1)
  7. Ohio State: 180 (-1)
  8. NC State: 164 (+1)
  9. UVA: 152 (+4)
  10. Texas A&M: 151 (-2)
  11. VT: 135 (+1)
  12. Arizona: 106 (+3) / Michigan: 106 (-2)
  13. Stanford: 99 (+2)
  14. Alabama: 91 (-4)
  15. Missouri: 86 (+2)
  16. Purdue: 83 (-)
  17. LSU: 68 (+1)
  18. Miami: 54 (+2)
  19. Tennessee: 48 (+4)
  20. Minnesota: 40 (+2)
  21. Georgia Tech: 40 (-8)
  22. Florida St: 32.5 (+)
  23. UNC: 31 (+)
  24. Notre Dame: 29 (-3)


We had Ohio State beating Indiana. The big difference there was that Ohio State’s top three seeded scorers dropped sharply from their psych sheet points: Paul DeLakis from 44 to 23, Hunter Armstrong from 18.5 to 4 and Sem Andreis from 14 to 0. We probably should have relied a little more on our historical ‘change from seed’ data, in which Ohio State has generally fallen pretty steeply from seeded points at NCAAs.

Texas A&M fell two spots from where we had projected them, despite fan uproar that we were underrating them. (I guess it did indeed come out in the wash? Or it didn’t? I’m not sure how the expression logically concludes when they were wrong but we were also wrong). In all fairness, A&M was a single point out of 9th and only 13 points out of where we had projected them.

Michigan dropped a little, but that was somewhat due to Virginia and Virginia Tech rising.

The biggest droppers were Alabama and Georgia Tech. For the Crimson Tide, Matt King’s disqualification out of his best event (the 50 free) probably cost the team double-digit points – enough to put them in the hunt for 12th, at least. But all four of their projected individual scorers dropped from psych sheet scores. That comes after Alabama’s women outperformed our power ranks last week. We probably overreacted to the Alabama women mostly over-performing last week.

Individually, Georgia Tech pretty much performed as expected. (Caio Pumputis and Batur Unlu actually matched their psych sheet scores exactly). But 36 projected relay points withered away to nothing as the Yellow Jackets were 17th in both medley relays and didn’t score any relay points.


Virginia was the biggest surprise, nearly doubling their psych sheet points. Keefer Barnum was the main driver, going from 2 psych sheet points to a whopping 26 total points scored with A final appearances in both breaststrokes. But the relays were the biggest point gains. UVA was seeded to score 28 relay points. They’d surpassed that after just two NCAA events were in the books, and wound up scoring 94 points across all five relays.

It’s especially impressive for Virginia given how well their national champion women swam last week. It seems rare for a combined-gender program to swim really well in both the women’s and men’s meets, but UVA clearly pulled off the feat. The Cavalier men don’t have the flashy names of their women’s program, and we overlooked just how primed they were for NCAAs.

Virginia Tech also jumped a spot – and that wasn’t a case of a few points. They beat Michigan and Arizona by almost 30, and even overcame a really key DQ to flyer Youssef Ramadan. We were too low on the H2Okies.

Arizona had a nice meet and climbed three spots from our ranks. That area of the finish order was densely-packed with teams close enough that a single swim could have shaken up the order. But that 12-17 range also featured a lot of teams moving up from our power ranks: Stanford and Mizzou both made good jumps from where we had projected them.

Miami got pretty much the diving haul we’d projected – but that translated to a higher finishing spot than we expected. Same goes for Tennessee.

Despite the protests of our commenters from Wisconsin, the Minnesota Gophers did indeed hold up their top 25 ranking, even outperforming our projection of 23rd place. We were pretty clear all year that we were essentially ranking the Minnesota Max McHughs, but that’s just how the NCAA format works when you’ve got one of the greatest breaststrokers of all-time on your roster.

Close or Right-On

SwimSwam as a whole is currently on the injury report with arm fatigue – from patting ourselves on the back too hard over accurately projecting the entire top 5. Picking Texas over Cal was the toughest call there, and that race very clearly could have gone either way. But Texas really did show up for NCAAs better than we’ve seen in several years, and their diving group very much held up the lofty projections we’d made for them. (Internally, we threw around numbers between 70 and 90 as we tried to predict Texas’s diving output, and they ended up scoring 83).

After somehow becoming the SwimSwam Diving Guy, the author of this story is especially proud that we got Purdue right, given how much of their scoring came on the boards. Diving is notoriously hard to project, without the aid of hard-and-fast times to compare between different meets and different seasons. We roughly predicted the Boilermakers around 50 diving points, though those projections really heavily depended on a single event, platform, with a lot of volatility. But Purdue did indeed score 52 diving points, and that was enough to get them 17th.

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Former Swimmer
6 months ago

I believe you listed VT in the wrong section. The Hokies were #12 in your rankings and finished at #11 and were listed in under-performers.

Just Checking
6 months ago

Looks like VT moved up a spot, not down. The final power rankings had them 12th and they ended up 11th.

6 months ago

Wow, you guys nailed the top 5, and nearly nailed the top 8!! Great job.

On another note (don’t kill me) it’s a bit mean-spirited to call out specific commenters as part of your article. We’re all out here just trying to cheer for our favorite squads. I mean, I’m a Texas Longhorns stan but A&M actually had a nice meet. They were still top 10, and were the 3rd highest scorers in the SEC.

What happened to the GA Tech guys Barone and Ferraro?? No-shows on Sunday, two backups in their 400 free relay. Hope they are healthy.

Last edited 6 months ago by Anonymous
Reply to  Anonymous
6 months ago

Swimswam commenters: they can dish it, but they sure cant take it

Reply to  Derpyson
6 months ago

I like the back and forth us commenters have with the SwimSwam writers. Makes it feel like more of a community

6 months ago

A&M was missing two potential scoring divers due to Olympic hopeful goals

Last edited 6 months ago by DivingforLife
Texas A&M Swim Fan
Reply to  DivingforLife
6 months ago

Yep. Noted that in my comment. Don’t know if SwimSwam was counting them for points or not in their initial prediction.

Foreign Embassy
6 months ago

Was this the first year the USC men have not been in top 25?

Reply to  Foreign Embassy
6 months ago

Nope, but first time since 1959 when they did not score. Won the title in 1960. An impressive turnaround.

6 months ago

Should call it Purdue Diving and Swimming

6 months ago

why not rate the teams based upon overall “SWIMMING” performance?
Cal would have won several more NCAA titles if it were not for diving points!
Diving should hold its own championships…especially since divers only count as half a swimmer then
maybe the points should be half! If diving is to be equal, then each diver should have the same accountability as a swimmer. Texas took 4 divers = 2 swimmers and left 8 swimmers home!
If Texas took 4 divers that counted as full swimmers, then Eddie has more of a dilemma on his hands…
Eliminated the format or acknowledge that Cal “SWIMMING” is the best in the USA!
Changes should be made!

Reply to  BEARDOWN
6 months ago

Why not rate the teams based on “best overall team hair” or “best overall team cheers” or “tallest overall team.”

Sure they’d all be interesting. We could rate teams based on a million different criteria. But, like rating teams on “SWIMMING” performance, none of them are reflected in the reality of what points are awarded for in the competition, which is what these power rankings are intended to do.

James Beam
Reply to  Braden Keith
6 months ago

How about the best podium attire? I think the hockey jerseys that Georgia wore were the best of the meet…

Reply to  James Beam
6 months ago

Is Georgia doing hockey jerseys more or less cool than Minnesota doing hockey jerseys? Minnesota has a varsity hockey team, so it’s weird, but Georgia only has a club team, so that’s also weird.

James Beam
Reply to  Braden Keith
6 months ago

I think more cool. You don’t associate Georgia with hockey where it is a natural for Minnesota. You know what would be cool? Someone other than Texas (maybe Florida??!!) wearing cowboy hats.

Reply to  Braden Keith
6 months ago

Hair is the best metric. Good one.

Reply to  BEARDOWN
6 months ago

As someone who swam for a top D1 team that didn’t have a great diving program, give this narrative a rest. I can’t speak for the Cal guys, but at least for me and my teammates, we knew going into conference and NCAAs that we would be starting in a hole. Our attitude was something along the lines of, “we don’t have divers like other teams do, so we’ll just kill them in the pool,” and we were not throwing up 568 points like the Cal swimmers are now. I’d have to imagine the Cal swimmers feel the same way. Obviously, does it suck to finish a spot or two lower or lose a meet because of diving? Of course… Read more »

Last edited 6 months ago by RJC
Reply to  RJC
6 months ago

Believe Louser was out of Pacs for “covid protocol”, assuming a positive test or contact tracing. His inseason times are meh, but he tends to swims well with a bit of rest, so I definitely think he would have made some noise at Pacs.

Do agree with the rest of your comment and analysis! Proud of the Bears and the fight they put up. Losing these fantastic seniors will be rough, but our incoming freshmen are ready to contribute. Already looking forward to next year! Roll on, forever!

Last edited 6 months ago by swimmerTX
Reply to  BEARDOWN
6 months ago

I think scoring should be recalculated to eliminate all breaststroke points. IM and Medley Relay times would also be adjusted to account for this. I hate breaststroke. Diving is cool.

Reply to  TAK
6 months ago

I agree. How is it related to the other strokes? The only thing they have in common is that they take place in water. It’s a huge disadvantage for the teams that don’t have good breaststroke programs.

Reply to  BEARDOWN
6 months ago

We get it, you don’t respect diving.

If we separate diving from swimming it would probably cease to exist as a program for most schools.

Please include separating track from field in your argument when you go to RunRan

Tell Dave Durden to recruit more/better divers, since he plays by the same rules as Ray Looze and Eddie Reese

Oh yeah, Post less 🙂

Last edited 6 months ago by Horninco
Reply to  Horninco
6 months ago

While I don’t personally have a problem with swimming & diving being together, I don’t think the track & field analogy is perfect either.

Especially at the high school and college level, a lot of athletes do both track and field events. Additionally, there are 12 track events and 9 field events. One of those track events, the steeplechase, has a lot of field-like elements in it, and the decathlon is a multi-event field event.

So, diving is a much smaller portion of swimming & diving than field is of track & field.

But anyway, don’t mind me, just poking holes in the analogies.

tea rex
Reply to  Braden Keith
6 months ago

Plus a lot of good track sprinters do the long/triple jump.

Maybe we should force more crossover. Add 2 scoring events to the last day: a divers-only relay (we always did this on senior day), and a dive / belly-flop competition with swimmers only. Let’s see if any 6’5″ swimmers can do a double pike.

Reply to  Horninco
6 months ago

I think the track and field argument is slightly flawed when applied to swimming and diving. It’s a good starting point, but I don’t think it can be the sole justification for why swimming and diving go together.

First off, I don’t want to sound like I’m making excuses for Cal or complaining about swimming and diving being together (see my above comment- they know the rules just like everyone else), but saying “oh, track and field are together, swimming and diving should be as well” is no more valid than the false analogy of figure skating and hockey some fans tend to make. For one, track and field have been together for centuries- its always referred to that… Read more »

Reply to  BEARDOWN
6 months ago

But Diver’s get scholarships which count against the NCAA limits, to who’s to say that Texas would not have outscored Cal in swimming if the diving scholarships had been given to swimmers. Its all one championship – there is not a “Butterfly champion” or a backstroke champion either.

Reply to  BEARDOWN
6 months ago

Just a reminder.. diving is 3 events out of 21. THREE. The potential impact to overall scores isn’t that massive, really. It’s only super impactful when you have a diving program that’s phenomenal ADDED TO a swimming program that is outstanding as well. What do you get? A national championship TEAM of swimmers & divers, deservedly so. This argument needs to retire, and frankly, is really only relevant when Texas wins because of the blended greatness of the Texas team. The winners from each of the diving events this year were all from different schools… and yet Texas still garnered 83 diving points from each of their divers. Depth wins championships. Every single person on that Texas S&D team scored.… Read more »

6 months ago

“ We were too low on the H2Okies.” best line so far

Faulty Touch Pad
Reply to  Hokiehomie
6 months ago

This has been SwimSwam’s motto toward VT since it first started writing articles. #SleptOn

Reply to  Faulty Touch Pad
6 months ago

If I see this from a team, I just assume they’re soft automatically.

1) You need SwimSwam to tell you you’re good? Just go out and swim the points that prove it.
2) It’s like you’re mad that you did well,
3) I saw on AJ Pouch’s Insta story last week him whining about SwimSwam not picking the freshman to win the 100 fly and we saw how that turned out.

Why don’t y’all ever come on here and say “shoot, we didn’t live up to our expectations, y’all were right.”

About Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson swam for nearly twenty years. Then, Jared Anderson stopped swimming and started writing about swimming. He's not sick of swimming yet. Swimming might be sick of him, though. Jared was a YMCA and high school swimmer in northern Minnesota, and spent his college years swimming breaststroke and occasionally pretending …

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