It was a senior-heavy NCAA, with five seniors projected among the top 8 individual scorers. We look back at the past 4 years to evaluate recruiting ranks. Archive photo via Jack Spitser/Spitser Photography
Now, we’ll look at the two middle classes, comparing ranked recruits, unranked recruits, and international additions based on NCAA scoring (and 2020 NCAA psych sheet projected points) across each year of their eligibility so far.
The data included is only individual scoring at NCAAs. That’s not an exact measure of an athlete’s contribution to a program: many of these swimmers (and others not listed) were relay scorers at NCAAs, scored significant points at conference meets and provided great leadership and culture-building for their programs. This data isn’t a perfect analysis of the best recruits – it’s merely a quick look at the data we can compile.
Some of these athletes haven’t had as many scoring seasons as others in their class. Some redshirted a season and have more remaining seasons. Some deferred their enrollment as freshmen. Some sat out a year with a transfer. Some turned pro early. Some will turn pro early. Some are hard to pigeonhole into a specific class, international athletes especially. We did our best to group athletes where they best fit. Again, this isn’t a hard-and-fast ranking of value – it’s just the best data we can compile.
The ranks are from our recruit rankings, typically compiled when these athletes were high school juniors. We don’t include internationals in those rankings, as it’s difficult to figure out if and when internationals will join the NCAA and which class they should be grouped with before they appear in the NCAA. Do bear in mind that our rankings were done well over a year before any of these athletes appeared in NCAA competition, so if you do have a quibble with a specific rank, you may want to check how fast that athlete actually was when the ranking was done before you get too livid. Unranked recruits showing massive improvement curves are some of the best stories in the NCAA year-in and year-out, and one reason we rank recruits is so we can better see which athletes had great rises during their college careers.
All that said, compiling these ranks is a lot of data entry and a lot of research. If we missed anyone, or mis-classified anyone with the wrong class or with the wrong domestic/international tag, please let us know in the comments and we’ll update our data as soon as possible!
Seniors (High School Class of 2016, College Class of 2020)
Paige Maddenlooked primed to climb the ranks, perhaps all the way to #2 in the class behind Brooke Forde. Both were projected to score 40+ individual points this year.
There’s been some breaststroke disappointment in this class – Maggie Aroesty and Nikol Popov were both considered top-tier breaststroke prospects out of high school, but have just a combined 12 NCAA points through three seasons.
In general, this hasn’t been a powerhouse of a class, with just a handful of really big scorers, even when you look outside our top 20.
In terms of this analysis, Emma Nordinwas one of the swimmers most harmed by the NCAA cancellation. She was in line to rocket up the class in scoring after putting up 9 as a sophomore. Nordin was seeded to score 43, one of the top projections of any junior.
Mackenzie Padington took a redshirt season – it’s unclear if she’ll be back next year, or if she’ll prioritize the Olympics again. But if/when she resurfaces through a transfer to NC State, she should remain one of the class’s top scorers.
Usually, Olympic years don’t bring out a lot of international scorers. But we had seven international juniors seeded to be first-time NCAA scorers.
Sophomores (High School Class of 2018, College Class of 2022)
There have been quite a few top talents in this class missing seasons for various reasons. Taylor Ruck took a redshirt, and there’s reason to discuss whether she’ll return to Stanford next year or continue to focus on long course and the Canadian Olympic team now that the Olympics have been pushed back to 2021.
Erica Sullivan deferred her enrollment two years to prep for Tokyo, and she’s got big decisions to make with the Olympic delay.
At least, though, the absences in this class have mostly been because the swimmer was so good they bypassed some NCAA years, rather than not being good enough to score. The top 10 in this class have been very solid – all but Ruck, Sullivan and Eva Merrell (who tore her ACL and was out for the season) were projected to score at NCAAs.
It’s also worth noting that Stanford recruited a huge chunk of this top 20, and those athletes didn’t appear to peak for Pac-12s. It’s fair to speculate that their actual NCAA scorings would be higher than projected.
We had originally ranked Izzy Iveyas the #1 recruit in the class of 2019, but she graduated early and joined this group in the NCAA. She’s now on pace to be one of the class’s top few scorers, and the top domestic one.
Alabama’s Rhyan Whitewas another victim of the NCAA cancellation. She was projected to score 51, which would have surged her to #4 in the class behind Ivey and two internationals.
This is an outstanding international class. Maggie MacNeilwould likely be the #1 scorer in the class if this year’s meet had gone on, and Sophie Hanssonwas probably #2. Hulkko took a redshirt and should be back for FSU down the road.
Freshmen (High School Class of 2019, College Class of 2023)
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 …