Ranking the 2018 Men’s NCAA Recruiting Classes: #9-12

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After a whirlwind of a summer season, it’s time to shift gears and start preparing for NCAA season. To help out, we’re launching our yearly series ranking the top 12 recruiting classes in the nation – these swimmers will be starting their freshman seasons in the next month.

Here are a few important notes on our rankings:

  • The ranking numbers listed for individual recruits are from our Class of 2018 Re-Rank, which was done this past spring. Certainly some of those ranks would change after this summer’s season.
  • Like most of our rankings, these placements are subjective.  Rankings are based on a number of factors, including prospect’s incoming times, team needs filled, prospect’s potential upside, class size, and potential relay impact. Greater weight is placed on known success in short course yards, so foreign swimmers are slightly devalued because of their inexperience in SCY.
  • Transfers are included, and there are lots of big ones.
  • For the full list of the 1200+ committed athletes, click here. A big thank-you to SwimSwam’s own Anne Lepesant for compiling that index – without it, rankings like these would be far less comprehensive.

Here are the 9th-through-12th-ranked Men’s NCAA Swimming & Diving classes (plus some honorable mentions), with the top 8 to follow later this week:

Honorable Mentions (in no paticular order)

Georgia Bulldogs: Georgia got Andrew Abruzzo, who might turn out to be the most underrated recruit in the class at the 19th rank. He’s a multi-event star who’s been way more outstanding in long course, and fits Georgia’s athlete profile to a “T.” The Bulldogs also got two good transfers (1:35 freestyler Grant Norgan out of UNLV and 53.1/1:55.0 breaststroker Jack Dalmolin from Arizona State). They’ve also got legit 200 back depth with 4 prospects (including Abruzzo) between 1:45.6 and 1:46.8.

Minnesota Golden Gophers: 51.5/1:53.5 breaststroker Max McHugh would be the star breaststroke recruit of any class that didn’t have an all-time blue-chipper at the top. There’s not a lot of depth behind McHugh in this class right now, but Minnesota brought in some intriguing prospects in their go-to events: diving and breaststroke. Divers are notoriously tough to project, but the Golden Gophers have typically had great success and could very likely get big NCAA points out of Aiden Werner and Ryan Philip. Useless fact: the Gophers also loaded up on Aidens, with three freshman going by that name in various spellings

Harvard Crimson: Harvard prospect Jake Johnson (3:46 in the 400 IM, 1:46 in the 200) was originally among our top 20 recruits in the class before we re-ranked, and Simon Lamar (15:01 in the mile) is probably one of the best few swimmers not ranked. The Crimson also added European Junior champ Umitcan Gures (52.5 long course 100 fly) to what could be a really high-upside class.

#12: Missouri Tigers

Top-tier additions: #17 Danny Kovac (CO- Fly/IM), HM Jack Dahlgren (MN – back/free), Kyle Leach (CO – free), Ike Khamis (IN – diving)
The rest: Garrett Clasen (IL – breast/IM), Dane Florea (MO – distance), Jack Dubois (GA – distance)

Missouri nabbed a pair of standouts from the altitude of Colorado. Danny Kovac is a fast-riser who surged from well outside our list to ranking 17th after a huge high school state meet. Kovac is 46.65 in the 100 fly (near the class’s best) and 1:46.27 in the 200 IM, plus brings 43.8/20.2 freestyle speed. Kyle Leachtoo, should help the free relays, with times of 20.3/43.9/1:36.9 through the relay-distance freestyles.

Jack Dahlgren is another fast riser who is 1:42.5 and 47.5 in the backstrokes and 1:35.3 in the 200 free. His 200 back, in fact, is three tenths away from being the best in the entire recruiting class, though it’s still got a little ways to go to reach NCAA scoring level. Garrett Clasen is a good two-distance breaststroke pickup (55.8/1:59.8) who might have more impact with his 1:47.5 200 IM.

Florea and Dubois are a nice distance duo. Florea brings some exciting range, swimming 15:17 and 9:04 in the distance races, but also 1:38/45.8/20.8 down to the sprints. He also adds a 3:50 400 IM, which is probably his best bet for a tertiary event at SECs/NCAAs. Dubois (15:22/4:22) also swims down to 1:38 in the 200. Khamis was an Indiana state champ who is good on all three boards.

#11: NC State Wolfpack

Top-tier additions: HM Zach Brown (NC – fly), Nyls Korstanje (Netherlands – free/fly), Rafal Kusto (Poland – breast)
The rest: Jack Moranetz (CO – breast), John Healy (NC – back/fly), Curtis Wiltsey (NC – distance), Nate Mullens (OH – sprint free)

Zach Brown surged into our top honorable mentions with a big senior year where he dropped from 1:46 to 1:43.9 in the 200 fly. He’s also 47.6 in the 100 and has 1:48/3:52 IMs.

NC State is always seeming to reload its sprint corps, and the top addition this year is Dutch sprinter Nyls KorstanjeHis most exciting time is probably a 48.8 long course 100 free, which suggests he should be a solid option in both the 100 and 200 short course freestyles. Korstanje is also 22.38 in the 50 meter free and is a great pickup to fill in for the graduated Ryan Held.

Poland’s Rafal Kusto is a 1:02/2:14 long course breaststroker. He doesn’t yet appear on the Wolfpack roster, but we’re told by the team that he’ll be joining the program for the second semester, as a number of international swimmers tend to. He’s a great pickup, though harder to project because breaststroke does tend to be more hit-or-miss in long-course-to-short-course conversions based on the raised value of pullouts and the importance of stroke timing into each wall.

The rest of the class is solid. Healy and Wiltsey are home-grown products who have a shot to contribute down the road. Moranetz is good breaststroke insurance for Kusto and Mullens could flourish in this storied sprint program.

#10: Texas A&M

Top-tier additions: Shaine Casas (TX – back/fly/free), Clayton Bobo (TX – free), Coco Bratanov (TX – breast/IM), Peter Simmons (TX – back)
The rest: Alberto Gomez (TX – back), Ethan Gogulski (TX – back), Jake Schababerle (TX – breast), Luke Stuart (TX – distance), Mark Schnippenkoetter (AZ – free)

The Aggies absolutely mined their home state with an almost-entirely Texas class that has some serious talent. Shaine Casas is a do-everything talent coming off a massive summer. He’s currently 47.1 in the backstroke and 47.3 in fly, both within striking distance of the best in the class. But it’s fair to project even bigger drops after Casas went 54.5/1:58.6 in long course backstroke and 52.69 in long course fly this pas summer. His meters freestyle swims (22.7/49.9/1:51.6) also suggest he could have a bigger impact than his 20.1/44.3/1:39.1 short course bests.

Clayton Bobo was a top-20 recruit in our original ranks, and fell out of the top 20 only because of fast risers like Casas. He’s got great freestyle range (19.9/43.5/1:37.5) and is a pretty good flyer, too. Coco Bratanov is a Texas high schooler who also competes for Bulgaria, and he’s like Casas in his versatility. A 1:45.2 IM is maybe his best calling card at this point, but 54.4/1:57.4 in the breaststrokes is nothing to sneeze at, either. 20.0/43.9/1:37 in freestyle means Bratanov could be a multi-relay threat early on.

Simmons, Gomez and Gogulski all bolster the backstroke corps. Simmons has the most intriguing single event of the three (47.8 in the 100 back), while all three are between 1:45.0 and 1:46.0 in the 200 back.

#9: Michigan Wolverines

Top-tier additions: #8 Patrick Callan (OK – free), Will Chan (NC – breast), Spencer Carl (Louisville transfer – fly)
The rest: AJ Bornstein (CT – breast), Andrew Babyak (NY – distance), Bora Unalmis (TX –  distance), Ian Miskelley (MI – back/fly), Jared Daigle (MA – back), Mason Hunter (GA – breast), Michael MacGillivray (MI – breast), Leo Zabudkin (Wingate transfer – breast), David Cleason (MI – IM), Eric Storms (WI – back/breast), Jeremie Luong (Vietnam – fly/free), Dylan Boyd (Arizona State transfer – free)

This is a huge class for the Wolverines, and one with a very solid argument to rank higher than 9th. Patrick Callan is one of the best values in the class, already boasting NCAA scoring times in the 200 (1:33.52) and 500 (4:13.78) frees. He’s good enough to swim down and contribute on relays in the 100 (43.9) and projects as a great fit for a Michigan team that has some outstanding freestylers returning.

Will Chan is another breaststroker who doesn’t get the cred his times (53.4/1:58.9) deserve because of how loaded this class is in breaststroke nationwide. Spencer Carl was a top-tier recruit for Louisville a year ago, but didn’t have a productive freshman season. He brings some big potential (47.6/1:44.1 fly, 1:36.3 free) to Michigan with three years of eligiblity remaining.

Michigan loaded up on breaststrokers, with five prospects under 55.5 and four under 1:58.9. AJ Bornstein has been a lot more impressive in long course (2:12.5/1:02.8 this summer), so look for him to improve his short course bests (1:57.4/55.1). Mason Hunter is a speedster (54.2) who could see his 200 come around.

In distance free, Unalmis and Babyak are both 4:26 and 9:11 in the 500 and 1000, though Babyak has been quite a bit faster (15:16) in the mile.

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4 years ago

Why does Will Chan only have 3 years of eligibility remaining?

Reply to  SwimSwamSwum
4 years ago

I believe the 3 years remaining is referring to Spencer Carl

4 years ago

A&M could likely have a freshman 200 free relay go sub 1:20

Sun Devil Swim Fan
Reply to  Welllllll
4 years ago

Even though my moniker doesn’t indicate it, I am an A&M Swim fan as well as an ASU Swim fan. That being said, I would like to believe your prediction “holds fruit” but I’m looking for that 4th freshman who has the potential to go under 20 (or come close to it). Bobo has done it. Not sure if any of the others have as yet. Casas & Bratanov are likely candidates but I don’t see the 4th man in the equation yet! Hope your prediction comes true though!
Gig em👍

Reply to  Sun Devil Swim Fan
4 years ago

They are probably referring to relay take offs

Reply to  Welllllll
4 years ago

Cool. It takes 1:16 to score top 8.

4 years ago

I really think that NC State should be moved up a little higher in the rankings. They really have a strong class in the sense that they have TONS of potential. This is just another perfect case of NC State Coaches finding the absolute best swimmers out there

Benedict Arnold Schwarzenegger
Reply to  Ncstateswim
4 years ago

That’s actually a good point, no other recruiting classes have TONS of potential

Reply to  Benedict Arnold Schwarzenegger
4 years ago

Honestly I think that the NCAA/ ACC results of the past couple of years prove that the recruitment rankings of NC State are extremely underestimated.

Reply to  Ncstateswim
4 years ago

Ok let’s be real. This class does have an incredible amount of potential. I know all of the teams have extremely strong individual recruits, but no other team has such overall potential. Look at this class two years down the road and I guarantee it will be ranked top 5 in the nation.

Reply to  Jared Anderson
4 years ago

Teas, Florida, Stanford, Arizona State?

Coach Mike
Reply to  tnp101
4 years ago


Reply to  Coach Mike
4 years ago

They put Cal at #8

JP input is too short
Reply to  tnp101
4 years ago

Indiana, I bet.

Reply to  Ncstateswim
4 years ago

Couldn’t agree more with you ncstateswim. NC State has an incredible reputation of churning out elite athletes. They should be ranked higher given the quality of swimmers they consistently produce. Very few other colleges are able to have that consistent success rate.

4 years ago

Not quite what some of these are, but UCSD has many great recruits/transfers coming in and are going to surprise people… Spencer Daily 20.05/53 LC 100 fly, Will Wihanto 52 100 breast, Ivan Kurakin 425 500 free/145 200 back, Graham Hauss 151.00 and 358 LC 200/400, Hayden Johnson 426 500 free/432 400 im LC, and several others

JP input is too short
Reply to  swimjack
4 years ago

UCSD is just starting to transition so I don’t believe they will be able to swim postseason for a few years.

Egg Shan
4 years ago

Hey Swimswam,

What happened to Tomoe Zenimoto Hvas, don’t see him on UNCs roster, coming at semester or did he recommit?

SEC Loverrr
4 years ago

Jack Dubois is the name that should be instead of “Kyle Dubois.” I think Mizzou’s class will be very exciting.

JP input is too short
Reply to  SEC Loverrr
4 years ago

Also, between Junior National meets this summer, Florea went 1:50 free, 2:00 fly and 2:04/4:23 IM. Pretty versatile kid. If he keeps that direction of improvement, his best line up might not be distance events, but 200 IM, 200 fr, 200 fly.

4 years ago

I agree that Patrick Callan looks like a really solid recruit for MI. Looking forward to seeing him this season!!

Reply to  gator
4 years ago

As someone whos known Pat for a while, he’s gonna be really good :))

4 years ago

You can’t make a more perfect athlete for UGA than Abruzzo. Plus he will train with Litherland and Kalisz for the next few years. He might just be the top guy in the class when it’s all said and done

Reply to  Jim
4 years ago

Relays relays relays

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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