Ranking the 2020 Women’s NCAA Recruiting Classes: #13-16

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We continue our spring recruiting series with a team-by-team look at the best recruiting classes entering the NCAA next season. The classes below are projected freshmen for the 2020-2021 season. Of course, the coronavirus pandemic presents a number of wrinkles to this analysis: some athletes didn’t get a senior-year taper meet. Some high-end recruits may opt to defer their enrollment for a year to prepare for the Tokyo Olympics. There’s also still the possibility that the 2020-2021 school year is delayed, along with NCAA sports. All things considered, these ranks are based on the 2020-2021 NCAA season happening, but as we usually view these recruiting classes over their projected four years of college swimming, a potential delay or cancellation of the upcoming season doesn’t have as big an impact on this analysis as it would seem.

A few important notes on our rankings:

  • The rankings listed are based on our Class of 2020 Re-Rank from just last month. “HM” refers to our honorable mentions.
  • Like most of our rankings, these placements are subjective. We base our team ranks on a number of factors: prospects’ incoming times are by far the main factor, but we also consider potential upside in the class, class size, relay impact and team needs filled. Greater weight is placed on known success in short course yards, so foreign swimmers are slightly devalued based on the difficulty in converting long course times to short course production.
  • Transfers are included.
  • For the full list of all verbally 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.

#16: Texas A&M Aggies

  • Top-tier additions: HM Chloe Stepanek (NY – free), Alaya Smith (TX – breast), Desirae Mangaoang (NC -breast), Emme Nelson (NC – breast), Monica Gumina (Arizona transfer – free), Olivia Theall (TX – fly)
  • The rest: Abigail Ahrens (TX – back), Aviv Barzelay (Israel – back), Bobbi Kennett (TX – free/breast), Charlotte Longbottom (TX – breast/IM), Evelyn Bruner (TX – free), Jade Hallum (TX – free), JoJo Daspit (TX – free)

The Aggies got a very strong class centered around breaststrokers and freestylers. Breaststroke has been a traditional strength of the A&M program, and they’ve got a ton of developmental options coming in. North Carolina products Desirae Mangaoang (1:01.0/2:13.9) and Emme Nelson (1:01.7/2:13.4) are both great two-distance recruits. Alaya Smith has the most speed of the bunch (1:00.9) but needs more work in the 200 (2:17.7). Meanwhile Bobbi Kennett and Charlotte Longbottom are both 1:01s, too. That’s the volume approach in trying to replace the graduated Anna Belousova.

On the freestyle end, Chloe Stepanek was an honorable mention just outside our top 20 recruits nationally. She’s 1:45.5 in the 200 free and swims down to 48.7/22.8 in the sprints – that will make her an outstanding addition to A&M’s relay pool. Arizona transfer Monica Gumina is a little more of a mid-distance type, spanning from 49.9 in the 100 to 1:46.3 in the 200 and 4:46.5 in the 500.

Meanwhile Olivia Theall is a solid 100 flyer (53.9) with potential to drop from her 2:00 in the 200 fly. A&M really mined the state of Texas for depth in this huge 13-person class.

#15: Alabama Crimson Tide

  • Top-tier additions: Avery Wiseman (Canada – breast/IM), Gracie Felner (WA – free/breast), Reese Hazan (NV – fly/IM), Diana Petkova (Bulgaria – free)
  • The rest: Isabella Matesa (OH – free), Maddie Mechling (TX – back), Selina Reil (KY – distance free), Jada Surrell (CO – free), Courtney Russo (FL – diving)

Alabama’s class is a little smaller, but probably has more immediate-impact potential than A&M’s. Much of that comes from Avery Wisemanthe World Juniors medalist from Canada. Wiseman is an outstanding long course breaststroker (1:08.4/2:28.2) and probably projects to at least NCAA invite level, if not scoring level. Wiseman is a strong IMer as well and should have a solid NCAA lineup. If she can convert her sprint breaststroke well, Wiseman could be the missing link in an Alabama medley relay that had 50-point legs on back and fly, plus a 47.7 freestyle at SECs last year.

The Crimson Tide got another international pickup in Bulgaria’s Diana Petkovaa 25.5 long course freestyler who holds national records in the short course and long course 50-meter free. She should be a 22-low, 49-low type sprinter who has a solid breaststroke as wel.

Nevada’s Reese Hazan is a top prospect who excels in the toughest of events – she’s 1:56.8 in the 200 fly, which sits not far out of NCAA invite level. Hazan is also a solid 400 IMer (4:14.5) who should have a lot of endurance. Gracie Felner was a Cal commit who changed her college plans, bringing 48.9/1:46.7 freestyles to the relay pool for ‘Bama.

#14: Georgia Bulldogs

  • Top-tier additions: #20 Maxine Parker (CT – free)
  • The rest: Julianna Stephens (GA – free), Meghan Wenzel (PA – diving), Sloane Reinstein (CA – free)

Georgia went all-in on sprint freestyle this time around, with a small class that should have a lot of opportunities for relay swims. Ranked recruit Maxine Parker is the clear headliner, bringing in 22.2/48.9 speed in the sprints and a solid 1:46.2 in the 200. She’s got a ton of raw speed, and won a silver medal in the 50-meter free at 2019 World Juniors. No one is going to immediately replace the graduated Veronica Burchill, but Parker is one of the few recruits who can come close as a rookie.

Sloane Reinstein heads across the country from California, and goes 23.4/50.9/1:49.1 across the relay distances – not an immediate-impact recruit, but a developmental prospect and valuable relay depth. In-state pickup Julianna Stephens is more of a pure sprinter at this point, 23.8 in the 50.

#13: Virginia Tech H2Okies

  • Top-tier additions: #16 Chase Travis (DE – distance free), HM Emma Atkinson (PA – back), Nadia Gonzalez (Spain – free)
  • The rest: Kierstin Godfrey (VA – free)

Another small class, but one that should score early. Chase Travis is the best distance swimmer in the nation in this recruiting class, though her 4:41/16:05 times are still a tick out of scoring range (it took 4:39.1/16:03 in 2019). She’s also a solid long course swimmer from 400 to 1500.

Emma Atkinson is a very versatile pickup. At this point, she probably projects best as a backstroker (52.8/1:53.7), but her best senior-year drop was down to 1:45.7 in the 200 free. Atkinson is also a great long course freestyler (1:59.8 in the 200) and could be a great relay asset with some drops off her 49.7 short course 100 free. More free relay additions should come from Gonzalez, a 26.1/57.0/2:02.2 long course freestyler whose times roughly convert to 23.4/49.9/1:47.2.

Kierstin Godfrey is more on the developmental side, but 23.1 speed in the 50 is a solid pickup for Virginia Tech. We don’t typically include deferred enrollments in these ranks (they were recruited with a different class of swimmers), but for those looking forward to next NCAA season, Virginia Tech will also add Caroline Bentz, one of the top recruits from the high school class of 2019 who deferred her enrollment a year.

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MLAFORMAT
6 months ago

Plus Diana Petkova (24.8, 54.6, 1:07.4 br all scm) for Bama. Would this have bumped their class up?

JCO
6 months ago

As per their instagram, it looks like Alabama also recently signed Diana Petkova from Bulgaria for this fall. Don’t know if that moves them up at all, but it adds some extra depth to their sprint core.

ANON
6 months ago

…………..

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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