Ranking the 2020 Women’s NCAA Recruiting Classes: #5-8

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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.

Previously ranked:

  • #16: Texas A&M Aggies
  • #15: Alabama Crimson Tide
  • #14: Georgia Bulldogs
  • #13: Virginia Tech H2Okies
  • #12: Northwestern Wildcats
  • #11: Ohio State Buckeyes
  • #10: Michigan Wolverines
  • #9: NC State Wolfpack

#8: Tennessee Volunteers

Tennessee didn’t get any ranked domestic prospects, but Ireland’s Mona McSharry is definitely at the level of a top-10 recruit. Her long course breaststroke times (1:07.4/2:27.4) suggest she could be an NCAA A final contender as a freshman and beyond. She’s also a 25.4 freestyler in long course, probably translates to somewhere in the 22s in yards. That makes McSharry a massive relay weapon, and a much-needed one after Tennessee graduated most of its top relay swimmers.

Jasmine Rumley is a high-ceiling sprinter who played three sports (swimming, softball, track) at a high level in high school and saw her 100 free drop significant time as she focused in more on swimming. She’s 22.2/49.0 in the sprints, and should have a lot of fast swimming ahead of her in a program that just took Erika Brown from a no-name prospect into one of the best sprinters in college history.

Those two are supplemented by distance swimmer Kristen Stege (16:11/4:43.8 and an extremely fast-rising freshman miler at ECU last year) and backstrokers Elle Caldow (53.5/1:57.2) and Olivia Harper (53.5/1:56.8), plus flyer Berit Quass (53.6/1:58.9). This is a big class with a lot of developmental types, which is important to restock the roster after the graduations of Brown, Tessa Cieplucha, Stanzi Moseley, and Meghan Small.

#7: Wisconsin Badgers

The top of this class nationally is incredible, and Phoebe Bacon is one of the better NCAA prospects we’ve seen in the past decade. With backstroke times of 50.7 and 1:50.7, she’d be an instant NCAA title contender if there wasn’t a world record-holder coming into the NCAA in her same class. That said, Bacon goes to a Wisconsin program that turned 51-second high school backstroker Beata Nelson into the college swimmer of the year as a junior, so there’s plenty to be excited about.

Bacon’s 51.7 fly, 1:55.3 IM, 1:00.3 breaststroke and 22.4/49.2 freestyles should fill in wherever Wisconsin needs on its relays. The backstroke group reloads in a big way despite the graduation of Nelson. In-state prospect Kaylyn Schoof is 52.7 and 1:54.5 in back and will make a great training partner for Bacon in a stout 1-2 punch. The rest of the class will need some time to develop. Cal Dunn and Emma Lasecki build up the IM group, Elle Braun and Emily Ecker are milers who swim down to 1:49s in the 200 free, Mallory Jackson is a backstroker and Alex Anagnostopoulos a breaststroker.

#6: Louisville Cardinals

Louisville doesn’t have a single swimmer of Bacon’s caliber, but does bring in three swimmers who made our recruiting re-rank. Tristen Ulett of Georgia and Gabi Albiero of Kentucky are very similar butterflyers (52.0/1:55.7 for Ulett; 51.9/1:55.8 for Albiero) who should provide some free relay coverage, too. Ulett is also a great IMer (1:56.5), and perhaps gives Louisville an inside track at her younger sister, highly-touted recruit Rye.

Albiero follows the footsteps of her brother, All-American Nicolas Albiero, to swim for their father Arthur at Louisville. She’s a 22.3/49.3 freestyler who should stay busy on relay duty with the Cardinals. Both Ulett and Albiero come in at a great time, as Louisville just lost top flyer Grace Oglesby and free relay legs Casey Fanz and Lainey Visscher.

Paige Hetrick could go a number of ways as a prospect. She’s got 52.8/1:53.0 backstrokes, but also great freestyle range, from 22.8/49.1 to 1:45.7/4:47. She and Olivia Livingston (22.7/49.4/1:49.5) should help rebuild the free relays.

Liberty Williams is more of a distance prospect, with a 16:21 mile that would have been only about four seconds off an NCAA invite in 2020. Addie Farrington adds 1:01.0/2:12.3 breaststroke speed, and Paige McCormick is a solid IMer (4:14.6/2:01.9) who also swims a 4:48 in the 500 free.

#5: USC Trojans

USC went all-in on sprint freestyle with this recruiting class, and that has to be a bonus for whoever takes over the vacant head coaching job there. Kaitlyn Dobler is the kind of prospect retired coach Dave Salo generally thrived on. She’s a sprint breast/free combo with the best 50 free (22.01) in the domestic recruiting class and one of the better 100 breaststrokes (58.3) we’ve ever seen in a U.S. recruit. Throw in a 2:09.5 in the 200 breast and 48.6 in the 100 free, and you’ve got a swimmer who could be scoring in multiple individual events as a freshman and perhaps swimming the full slate of four relays and three individuals.

The Trojans also added Canadian standout Jade Hannahwho has long course backstrokes (59.6/2:09.2) and freestyles (25.8/56.2) that should convert to roughly NCAA invite level and thoroughly bolster USC’s relays in the absence of graduated star Louise Hansson. Hannah, in particular, has to be a deferred enrollment candidate as a Canadian Olympic contender, but there’s a chance USC could build medley relays on a Hannah-Dobler pairing for years to come.

Then it’s just sprint depth on sprint depth. Anicka Delgado is a California high school product who goes 22.5 and 49.3 in sprint free. Andrea Santander out of Florida is 22.9/49.6/1:47.0, Michigan’s Johanna Jorgenson is 22.8/50.0/1:47.4, and Florida’s Adair Sand 23.4/49.6/1:48.9. Caroline Famous is a 53.6 backstroker, but also 22.9 in the 50 free.

Then USC got one of the many strong breaststrokers in this class, with Colorado’s Caraline Baker (1:01.7/2:12.8) coming down from altitude to join the noted breaststroke factory.

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Swimmerj
1 year ago

Who’s left? Cal-Texas-STAN-UVA?

Nswim
Reply to  Swimmerj
1 year ago

Yep, it’ll be interesting so see who is at the top UVA or Stanford. Although Stanford got the best swimmer in the class, UVA got Walsh and others

swimmertx
Reply to  Nswim
1 year ago

Personally I think Stanford will be at the top, although UVA will be close. Excited to see the final rankings.

Admin
Reply to  Nswim
1 year ago

I’m curious too.

Those are two classes that would be slam dunk #1s in most seasons.

Smith-King-Dahlia-Manuel
Reply to  Nswim
1 year ago

I didn’t realize Lillie Nordmann was “chopped liver”.

https://youtu.be/HYv_cZOCXfc

GA Boy
1 year ago

Auburn has to be somewhere, this leaves me confused cause I don’t think they’re top 4 but they’re at least top 16, probably top 10, and there is no way they aren’t top 25 (including the the honorable mentions)!!

Ladyvoldisser
Reply to  GA Boy
1 year ago

AU needs to recruit and coach em up…stop yer whining. I just breathing ez that the GirlVOLS are in the top 8! With this great class, the amazing coaching, coonskin caps and our girl swimmers and divers learning clogging, we gonna be great.

Smith-King-Dahlia-Manuel
Reply to  Ladyvoldisser
1 year ago

Stay classy Tennessee.

VFL
Reply to  Smith-King-Dahlia-Manuel
1 year ago

Lady Vol Disser is obviously a troll account on many different pages that doesn’t represent Tennessee

Smith-King-Dahlia-Manuel
Reply to  VFL
1 year ago

I misquoted.

You stay classy Tennessee – Ron Burgundy

https://tse2.mm.bing.net/th?id=OIP.dLa3VmTLQdkuktOPHyCqyQHaD9&pid=Api&H=85&W=160&P=0

Ladyvoldisser
Reply to  VFL
1 year ago

Now dont get yer coonskin in a wad…

Ghost
Reply to  GA Boy
1 year ago

Which “stars” did they sign that are guaranteed points at ncaas?

War Damn
1 year ago

No way is Auburn top 4. For the class of 2021 that’s a conversation, but not this class.

SwimminIsGood
1 year ago

My predictions:

(4) Cal
(3) Texas
(2) Virginia
(1) Stanford

Virginia and Stanford have amazing classes!

Togger
Reply to  SwimminIsGood
1 year ago

I think it depends how you factor in Smith. Do you account for 2 years of her scoring or all 4?

The Franklin/Ledecky precedent suggests she’ll be pro before her senior year, but sure the SwimSwam guts have more insight.

swimmertx
Reply to  Togger
1 year ago

I think it will ultimately come down to the NCAA pro rules (re Smith’s NCAA scoring years).

weagle weagle
1 year ago

Are we just going to ignore the depth that Auburn is bringing in with their class? Sure, they may not have many people in the top 20 ranked in their class according to SwimSwam, but take a look at the well-roundedness of each girl in their class. Examples, Colby Hurt in the distance free, IM, and breaststroke events, Hannah Ownbey in the IM and breaststroke events, and many other girls. Each girl in their class has a multitude of events. No, they probably shouldn’t be in the top 4, but they should definitely have been included on this list somewhere.

weagle weagle
Reply to  weagle weagle
1 year ago

Maggie Gholston, Payton Marvin, Kensley Merritt and Meghan Lee are very well rounded. Not to mention, Abigail Gibbons and Elysse Pardus excel in the fly events, Emma Steckiel in the sprint freestyle events, and Brynn Curtis in the breaststroke events.

Quarantined Swimming
Reply to  weagle weagle
1 year ago

Versatility is valued significantly less I would imagine. After all, these are national ranks, so the emphasis would be on NCAAs. Teams that are competing for higher placement nationally, I would assume, would much rather have a one-trick pony that scores 10 points at NCAAs than someone who can score 30 at a conference meet. That is not to say that these swimmers in Auburn’s class (or other classes full of versatile swimmers) can’t develop into NCAA scorers, just that an almost surefire national level scorer is valued much higher, and rightly so.

Smith-King-Dahlia-Manuel
Reply to  Quarantined Swimming
1 year ago

Where did these swimmers place at the 2019 Phillips 66 National Championships?

Mathemagics
Reply to  weagle weagle
1 year ago

Hannah Owenby’s best times would have scored 1 point at SECs last year. Colby Hurt would’ve scored about 15.

It is totally a deep class. But when your class as a whole has times that would score less than 20 at the conference meet…that doesn’t impress me. Not on the women’s side, where swimmers come out of high school with NCAA title-winning times already.

Who do they bump? Texas A&M, another SEC school, is #16, lowest-ranked class on the list. Their top swimmer, Chloe Stepanek, has times that would outscore the entire Auburn class on her own. A&M has at least 3 breaststrokers in their class that are faster than every breaststroker you named.

So, you would bump A&M out… Read more »

Smith-King-Dahlia-Manuel
Reply to  Mathemagics
1 year ago

As a point of reference, Regan Smith finished first and Lillie Nordmann finished second in the women’s 200m butterfly at the 2019 Phillips 66 National Championships. Where were these Auburn swimmers?

Weagle
Reply to  Smith-King-Dahlia-Manuel
1 year ago

Relax.

Smith-King-Dahlia-Manuel
Reply to  Weagle
1 year ago

Relax does not answer the question.

GA Boy
Reply to  Jared Anderson
1 year ago

I just don’t see any way they can’t at least be better than most of the honorable mentions…..

Weagle
Reply to  Jared Anderson
1 year ago

so can u explain why AU is not even a HM but schools w even less stand out swimmers are???

Alum14
Reply to  Weagle
1 year ago

Maybe it was close and they made a judgement call.

Maybe they made a mistake.

Maybe we can all be thankful that there’s a team of individuals willing to work jobs that promote the sport of swimming instead of taking jobs in industries that are far more lucrative. I certainly appreciate Swimswam’s work, even if they aren’t perfect all the time.

And ya know, maybe the Aurburn class just wasn’t good enough and your daughter/niece/friend can go prove everyone else wrong for next four years!

Correction
1 year ago

Katelyn Yule did not sign with the #8 Tennessee volunteers. She is attending #5 USC per her Instagram bio.

Nonrevhoofan
1 year ago

What everyone is clamoring to know: Will DeSorbo Effect lose his mind if UVA isn’t ranked #1? Will he come out of his hole, see his shadow, and return to hibernation?

Foreign Embassy
1 year ago

Did I miss something about Erica Sullivan? She committed to USC back in 18 then deferred enrollment to stay home to train this year. But not listed as USC for fall 2020…?

NC Swim Fan
Reply to  Foreign Embassy
1 year ago

Per previous responses from Jared and Braden, they count deferrals in their original class and don’t recount them In their new class. Transfers count, deferrals don’t.

Ghost
Reply to  NC Swim Fan
1 year ago

Also, Didn’t she say she is waiting to see who the new coach is?

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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