Ranking the 2020 Women’s NCAA Recruiting Classes: #9-12

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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

Northwestern has been on the rise under new coach Jeremy Kippand this class is going to keep powering that move up the ranks. Selen Ozbilen joins a wave of strong international recruits to the Chicago-area Big Ten program, and she could wind up being one of the best sprint free recruits in this class. A Turkish national relay record-holder, Ozbilen has long course bests of 25.4 and 55.3 that put her in the ballpark of going sub-22 and sub-49 in short course yards. She can swim up to 2:02.1 in long course free, and should be a multi-relay threat for Northwestern right out of the gate.

Lola Mull is one of the best distance swimmers outside our top 20, with times of 4:43.3 and 16:12 – she should be in the hunt for an NCAA invite as a rookie.

Meanwhile Annika Wagner is a key in-state pickup who is 4:14.8 in the 400 IM and 1:58.6 in the 200 IM, with 1:01.8/2:13.0 breaststroke added in.

Potentially every member of this class has relay potential: Ozbilen’s impact is obvious, but Mull and Erika Chen are both 1:49s in the 200 free and Wagner is a strong 1:47.0. Isabella Wallace is 23.3 and 50.4 with 55s in both fly and back.

#11: Ohio State Buckeyes

After winning Big Tens last year, Ohio State loses some distance types but loads up on sprinters. Kit Kat Zenick out of Texas and Emily Crane out of England have a chance to be a dynamic duo for years. Zenick is 22.3/48.8 and rising very fast. She adds a 52.5 fly that might be her best overall event. Crane is one of a bunch of 25-second long course sprinters in this nationwide recruiting class. 25.7/55.2 should put her in the early hunt for at least an NCAA invite, provided she can translate her speed well to yards. Long course conversions are never perfect, but for comparison’s sake, Crane is actually faster in long course meters than Zenick (26.0/56.9), so picturing Crane at Zenick’s short course times or better isn’t a crazy projection.

Montana’s Catherine Russo is a pure sprinter with a 22.7 free and a 53.9 fly. It’s a little more range and a little less speed for Liberty Gilbertwho is 4:48.3 in the 500 and 1:48.5 in the 200. And Janessa Mathews is a very solid breaststroker (1:00.9/2:13.2) who keeps this class well-rounded across disciplines.

#10: Michigan Wolverines

Michigan got a priority recruit in Kathryn Ackermanthe only Michigan high schooler in our top 20 ranks. She’s a great IMer (4:07.7/1:57.2) with a time in the 400 that would have scored at the most recent NCAA Championships. Ackerman is also very good across the 200-yard distance, with a 1:54.3 backstroke and a 1:47.1 freestyle. Michigan has a strong track record with 200 types lately, so Ackerman should be a good fit.

That 1:47 freestyle adds to a strength of this class. Noelle Kaufmann out of New York is 1:47.2 and in-state pickup Sophie Housey 1:47.3.

Michigan got a pair of Claires to build up their breaststrokes after graduating Miranda Tucker: Claire Donan (1:00.8/2:11.7) is also a good IMer (1:59.1/4:16.9), while Claire Tuttle (1:00.7/2:15.7) crosses over more into sprint freestyle (22.7). And following that name theme, Claire Newman adds another sub-23 in the 50 free.

Sophia Tuinman (53.9/1:55.1) and Casey Chung (53.4/1:56.3) load up the backstroke depth, and Kalli Fama (1:48.4) falls in with that stellar 200 free group in a Wolverine class that spans a lot of disciplines. Michigan has had a great recruiting pipeline from Hong Kong, and Natalie Kan is the latest recruiting nab. She’s 1:00.7 in long course fly.

#9: NC State Wolfpack

There are a handful of great breaststrokers in this class, and NC State got one in Abby Arensthe in-state pickup who is 59.7 and 2:08.0 and projects to score at NCAAs early on in her career. Arens is hyper-versatile – her 1:56.4 IM is maybe the event to watch, given NC State’s recent successes in the IMs. She’s also 22.9/50.2/1:47.8 in freestyle and could eventually cross over there for relays, the way Sophie Hansson has.

SMU transfer Andrea Podmanikova has already been very successful at the NCAA level, winning three AAC breaststroke event titles over two years. Times of 59.6 and 2:08.6 are very comparable to Arens and in NCAA scoring range.

Where Michigan went for a monopoly over Claires, NC State countered with a recruiting run on Abbys. Abby Pilkenton and Abby Doss join Abby Arens in this group. Pilkenton is 1:47.0 in the 200 free and should be a 100/200 freestyle and relay contributor down the road. Doss is a distance swimmer with a 16:31 mile and a 4:49 500.

Yara Hierath is a German national who has competed out of the U.S. for a few years, so she’s already got some short course yards data points. Originally a UC – San Diego commit, Hierath brings 16:33/1:48.8 freestyles to NC State, and long course times of 2:01.3/4:14.0/16:41.0 probably paint an even better picture than that. As with Arens, keep an eye on Hierath’s 4:45.7 long course 400 IM, which has been a specialty event for NC State’s women lately.

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Benedict Arnold Schwarzenegger

Seems crazy to have two sub-minute breaststrokers and only be #9, but this class must be really good overall. Anybody have ideas who the top 8 are?

DravenOP

Stanford, UVA, Wisc, CAL, Texas, Louisville, USC, and an 8th which I have no idea. Those aren’t in order just the teams.

VFL

One would have to imagine Tennessee falls within the top-8 with mcsharry, rumley, stege and caldow

VFL

Yooooo this name is taken!

BSNSwim

My guess would be Auburn for the other spot. Large deep class with a lot of versatility.

Klorn8d

Auburn has no ranked recruits or honorable mentions or best of the rests

BSNSwim

True but a lot of those recruits are at schools that were mentioned earlier. I could be completely wrong and probably am but I know they signed a huge class with a lot of girls that have multi-event range.

GA Boy

They have 1 best of the rest. And there are 13 of them in the class.

Smith-King-Dahlia-Manuel
Ladyvoldisser

UVA wouldn’t be ranked high iffin not for the state of Tennessee! Just like there would be no Texas without great Tennesseans fightin at the Alamo! If the GirlVOLS are not ranked in the next 5-8 segment, I might resign my swim commenting badge “We dont need no stinkin badges!!!!”. GirlVOL power!

VFL

based off of their website it looks like their class is

mcsharry is a 29.8, 1:04, 2:25 short course meter breaststroker with 25.0 and 54 short course meter sprint freestyle

rumley is a 22.2 and 49.0 sprinter

stege is a 4:43, 9:46 and 16:11 freestyler

3 other girls 1:47 in the 200 freestyle and under 4:48

and some other girls :53s and 1:58s in strokes

Smith-King-Dahlia-Manuel

I guess Jared has been put on notice. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.

Smith-King-Dahlia-Manuel

Please remind us, on what side did Tennessee fight the civil war?

Ladyvoldisser

We still fightin…you think the war is over? Just wait til the coon-skinned GirlVOLS roll on swimmin and divin in 2021. With the new recruits and great team remaining….they will not skip a beat!

JSL

NC State has done well with all women’s events including im. Arens is a product of the same club team, Marlins of Raleigh that produced 2019 ACC 200 IM champ Julia Poole, and 2019 and 2020 400 im champ Kate Moore, not to mention incoming freshman Michael Moore 3:48 IM and recently graduated Justin Ress.

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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