Ranking the 2019 Women’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 2019 Re-Rank, which was done this past spring. Certainly, some of those ranks would change after this summer’s season. “HM” refers to our honorable mentions.
  • 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.

We’ll start with some honorable mentions:


North Carolina Tar Heels: The first freshman class for new head coach Mark Gangloff is small but mighty: #19 Ellie VanNote from in-state, Top 20 HM Caroline Cooper, sprint freestyler Amy Dragelin, plus diver Paige Burrell. VanNote and Cooper are nearly identical: both are specialized in butterfly, with VanNote at 53.4/1:56.1 and Cooper at 53.9/1:56.0, with VanNote’s front-end speed in the 100 getting her the nod into our top 20. They’re both really good at the 200 fly, but neither have times near an NCAA invite range in any other events. Dragelin’s been 50.0/1:47.8 in free and 2:01.7 in the 200 IM, and Burrell was a Pennsylvania HS diving champion.

Minnesota Gophers: The names aren’t super recognizable, but this is a quietly strong class for Minnesota. The big get is Grace Bennin, who was stuck at 1:02.13 in the 100 breast for awhile then blew right past that last season at the Wisconsin HS Champs with a 1:00.65, making her a steal of a breaststroke pickup outside of the top 20. Minnesota just graduated their #2 breaststroker, Rachel Munson, and will graduate one of the best SCY breaststrokers in the country in Lindsey Kozelsky next year. Emma Lezer is another nice BR addition (1:01.4/2:16.2), and Maggie Summit (22.9/50.0/1:47.7) and Jordan McGinty (23.1/49.9/1:48.6) pairs nicely with Bennin’s 22.8 for a sprint boost that the Gophers badly need.

Arizona State Sun Devils: ASU has grabbed one of the big 200 flyers in #18 Lindsay Looney, who comes in at 53.2/1:56.2 in the fly events, while she’s also been 1:59/4:11 in the IMs, with her 400 being especially potent. Jade Foelske is right with her in the fly (53.8/1:56.8), though her 200 time is from 2016, and Polish sprinter Natalia Fryckowska (25.8/56.8) brings some sprint speed to this class.

Notre Dame Fighting Irish: This class is buoyed by the ultra-versatile #5 Coleen Gillilan out of Fort Collins Area Swim Team. She’s the biggest name to commit to the program in recent memory, and she’ll have an immediate impact on this program. She’s hundredths out of B final scoring range in the 100 breast (59.59) and 100 fly (52.00), and also has an invite-worthy time in the 200 IM (1:56.70). Gillilan is also a very impressive freestyler (22.5/49.6/1:45.7) and has shown range in her 200 breast (2:09.7) and 200 fly (1:56.2). The class features 1:01.1/2:14 breaststroker Elizabeth Fry and 1:59.9 IM’er Sydney Winters but isn’t quite deep enough to push into the top 12.

Here are the classes ranked 12th through 9th:

UPDATE: Embarrassingly, we have missed several recruits in our ongoing commit coverage which have not shown up on the first publication of this post. We have added confirmed updates or removed erroneous additions and will track down other changes pointed out to us in the comments as necessary, which has resulted in rank changes.


Top-tier additions: Kaitlynn Sims (TX – distance/IM), Megan Glass (OH – fly/free)
The rest: 
Katii Tang (Hong Kong – free), Octavia Lau (Canada – free/fly), Sophia Kudryashova (NJ – free)

Kaitlynn Sims is the newest addition to Michigan’s dominant distance dynasty. She’s not far from top eight scoring range in the mile with her 15:57.34, which is still good enough to score in the B, while she’s right outside of B final range in the 500 free (4:39.52). Sims is the best distance swimmer in the entire class, and Michigan will turn to her to help out after being gutted by the graduations of NCAA scorer Rose Bi along with Becca Postoll and Katherine Duggan.

While she certainly could come down to the 200 free for her third individual event (she’s been 1:47.10), Sims’ 4:11.13 in the 400 IM is not far off of an NCAA invite time.

Megan Glass has a solid sprint fly/free presence, at 53.2/1:57.1 in fly and 50.4/1:47.7 in the free. Besides the clear power in fly from rising sophomore Maggie Macneil, who has only gotten more lethal over the summer (she dethroned WR-holder Sarah Sjöström in the 100 fly at Worlds), Michigan is a bit lacking in fly depth, and top 200 flyer Vanessa Krause is about to graduate after this season. Glass projects a bit more to the 200, which is good considering Macneil is a pure sprinter anyways.

Katii Tang (2:01/4:19 FR LCM) and Octavia Lau (4:18/8:48 FR, 2:16 FL LCM) add some more depth to a class that is definitely distance-oriented, while there’s a sprintier addition in Sophia Kudryashova (23.6/50.2/1:47.4).

Fast riser to watch: Sims has moved from 4:42/16:10 after the 2017-18 season to 4:39/15:57 from the 2019 Speedo Winter Junior Champs in late 2018. From that season to this season, she also went from 4:16 to her current best of 4:11.13 in the 400 IM.


Top-tier additions: #12 Alexandra Crisera (CA – back/free), Emma Wheal (TX – free/fly), Kira Crage (CA – sprint free)
The rest: Julia Wortman (FL – diver)

While the quality over quantity argument does hold true here, thanks to Alexandra Crisera and Emma Wheal both being fantastic sprinters in a sprint-favored NCAA system, this is not a huge haul for three-time defending champions Stanford.

Of course, considering next year’s incoming class, it’s not like there’s any need to panic. And for a three-swimmer class (plus diver Julia Wortman, the 2018 FHSAA 4A runner-up), this one is still very strong. Crisera was ranked in our top 20, and she brings sprint free speed at 22.4/48.8/1:47.0. Wheal, meanwhile, sits at 22.6/49.4, a nice pickup who projects more as a pure sprinter, while Crage has been 23.0/49.7/1:48.6.

Both Crisera and Wheal also have another great stroke. Crisera has been 52.8/1:54.4 in the backstrokes, not far off of 2019 NCAA invite times, while Wheal brings a 53.4 100 fly. They should make for malleable relay pieces given their sprint capabilities in multiple strokes.

Since the departures of sprinters like Simone Manuel, Lia Neal, and Janet Hu, Stanford has often had to get a bit creative with their free relay lineups (like bringing in Katie Ledecky or Ella Eastin). Crisera, Wheal, and Crage will join the new era of Cardinal sprinters, and it’s likely that next year’s 200 and 400 free relays will have no more than one upperclassman (junior Lauren Pitzer).

Fast riser to watch: Wheal has been on the move. While her 22.62 lifetime best in the 50y free is from February of 2017 when she was just 15, Wheal hit a PR of 25.47 at Junior Nationals this summer in long course.


Top-tier additions: HM Talia Bates (FL – fly/free/back), Kathleen Golding (FL – free/IM), Chade Nersicio (FL – sprint free)
The rest: 
Allie Piccirillo (KY – fly), Ria Malhotra (FL – sprint free), Tylor Mathieu (CT – distance)

This class is led by Top 20 HM Talia Bates, a versatile sprinter with speed in fly/back/free. She’s been 52.82 in fly and 22.42 in the 50 free, both not far from NCAA invite times, while she’s also been 49.5/1:47.1 in the 100/200 free with intriguing power in backstroke (53.6/1:55.7).

This is another strong freestyle group, with Kathleen Golding (22.9/49.3/1:47.3/4:49.4), Chade Nercisio (22.6/50.3), and Ria Malhotra (23.1/51.2) piling on with Bates. Plus, all three are based in Florida.

Golding has range up to the 500 free, and she also brings a 53.9 fly and a very strong 1:58.3 IM. Tylor Mathieu is a solid distance pickup to go along with Golding at 1:50.3/4:48/16:44, and while Allie Piccirillo has only been 1:58.3 in the 200 fly in SCY, she dropped a 1:00.9 this past March in the 100m fly and was 2:11.3 last year in the 200m fly.

Florida has had trouble recruiting and developing elite sprint free talent, but this class is a step in the right direction. Bates has the potential to develop into a Sherridon Dressel-esque sprinter with her strengths being in the same three strokes (fly/free/back), and the sprint base of the group is bolstered by the distance options and Golding’s potential in the IM.

Fast riser to watch: Nersicio has gone from 22.9 in the 2017-18 season to 22.6, inching closer to NCAA invite range there.


Top-tier additions: #11 Zephy Koh (CA – fly), Emily Trieu (CA – back/fly), Ellie Marquardt (NC – free), Amelia Liu (TX – sprint free), Addison Smith (TN – free/fly)
The rest: Christina Bradley (WA – sprint free), Jennifer Secrest (FL – fly/IM)

By far the best mid-major class in the country, Princeton is led by #11 Zephy Koh and Emily Trieu, both out of Brea Aquatics in California, and freestyler Ellie Marquardt. This is a monumental class for Princeton, who sent just one athlete as a team to the 2019 NCAA Champs: diver Mimi Lin. They could have an individual NCAA qualifier or two individually come next March, though.

Koh is hard to ignore as the top 200 flyer in the class with a 1:54.6 done this past winter, which puts her more than three seconds quicker than any Tiger was on last year’s roster. That time would’ve scored in the B final at NCAAs at 12th, making her a huge asset with national salience to the Tigers. She has been 53.8 in the 100 back, while both she and Trieu are 53.2 in the 100 fly.

Trieu is more versatile, though, bringing in times of 22.8/49.9/1:48.5 free, 53.2/1:57.9 back, 1:59.4 fly, and 2:00 in the IM. The upper end of Princeton’s roster is going to be remarkably stronger this year in fly and back — last year, their top swimmers were at 53.8/1:58.0 in fly and 55.2/1:57.8 in back. The other three members of this class, Jennifer SecrestChristina Bradley, and Addison Smith, are 54.1/54.1/53.9 in the 100 fly, making for a far stronger fly group than the program has probably ever had.

Upgrades are in store in the sprint free, too. Marquardt is more mid-distance, but she can come down to the 100. She’s been 50.6/1:46.6/4:42.0 as well as 2:01.0/4:16 in the IM, and her 200/500 free makes her very valuable. The 500 free is her best event, and she’s just a couple seconds off of NCAA invite range in the 500. She just went bests in LCM in all of her free events this summer besides the mile (26.4/56.8/2:02.3/4:13.4/8:52.9), with that 4:13 400 free really standing out.

Bradley, at 23.0/49.6 in the 50/100 free, and Trieu, at 22.8/49.9, will come in faster than any returner from last season, along with Smith in the 200 free. There’s Amelia Liu, too, at 23.0/50.0/1:48.4, and she’s had an incredible long course season in 2019, producing bests of 25.7/55.9/2:02.6/4:20.2. Smith is also a solid 3.5 seconds ahead of their top 500 freestyler last year. Secrest, for her part, is just tenths off of Princeton’s top 200 IM’er last season.

All-in-all, this class will play a huge role on relays, too, and there will likely be freshmen stepping up on all relays (especially on the 400 medley and 400 free relay). These seven could make serious ground for Princeton’s pursuit of Ivy League leaders Harvard and Yale.

Fast riser to watch: Trieu went from 1:59-high to 1:57-high in the 200 back this year, and broke 55 for the first time in the 100 fly in 2019 where she’s gotten all the way down to 53.2.

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4 years ago

Michigan actually has a pretty decent fly group.

4 years ago

Ahem, Nikki Venema will also be at Princeton in the fall. 22.8/49.6/1:49.9 in the free and pretty good at the other strokes as well.

Reply to  Karl Ortegon
4 years ago

I love seeing the word “explicated” in the comments section! Well done!

4 years ago

You also missed Nikki Venema for Princeton

go tigers
Reply to  shwimmy
4 years ago

As well as Elizabeth Boeckman

4 years ago

What abut Tennessee?

KD with that OG
4 years ago

Reagan Smith??

Reply to  KD with that OG
4 years ago

Regan* Smith is in the class of 2020.

2 Cents
4 years ago

Stanford is hurting with this class, and arguably is over ranked with their class still. Regardless, they have the best non-Ledeckey female swimmer in the country committed to swim for them the next year… if she doesn’t go pro. The question is if Smith could do 2 individual events in one day and win both. I think the backs are a lock. Could she do 2Back and 2Fly or 1 back 1 fly dirty double duty? or 2 free and 1 back? so many options, and will be fun to see, but overall Stanford will be taking a step back and will finish 2nd-5th in the next 2-3 years.

Reply to  2 Cents
4 years ago

Personally I think RS should go pro, but if she decides to go the NCAA route then she can pop a fast 500 on day 1 of the meet! She’s already been 4:37! 500/1-back/2-back for her NCAA event lineup to make it 1 race per day!

4 years ago

Stanford should be higher.

Reply to  Swim
4 years ago

Should be unranked or honorable mention imo

About Karl Ortegon

Karl Ortegon

Karl Ortegon studied sociology at Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT, graduating in May of 2018. He began swimming on a club team in first grade and swam four years for Wesleyan.

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