Ranking the 2021 Men’s NCAA Recruiting Classes: #13-16

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We continue our 2021 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 2021-2022 season.

A few important notes on our rankings:

  • The rankings listed are based on our Class of 2021 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.
  • Several swimmers that would’ve been freshmen last season deferred enrollment for one year in order to focus on the postponed Olympic Games. There were also teams that didn’t compete last year, such as those from the Ivy League and Arizona State, so last season’s would-be first-years are now redshirt freshmen in 2021-22. Due to the fact that these swimmers were included in our 2020 recruiting class rankings, they have been left out of these rankings.


The Gators bring in a sizeable class with a few international names that could raise a few eyebrows.

Danish distance dynamo Oskar Lindholm will be the latest addition to join Gainesville’s revered freestyle group that includes NCAA champions and Olympic medalists Kieran Smith and Bobby Finke, with his short course meter times in the 4, 8 and 15 (3:47/7:48/14:57) converting to 4:19/8:55/14:52 in the 500, 1000 and 1650-yard free. The mile in particular will be one where Lindholm can jump right in and potentially put points the board at NCAAs as a freshman, and he’s also got the rare ability to race breaststroke (1:02/2:17 LCM) at a high-level as a distance freestyler.

Brazilian native Raphael Windmuller, who has trained and raced in Florida previously, has long course bests that convert to 54.4/1:58.3 on the breaststrokes, while North Carolina native Peter Bretzmann also brings a 1:58 200 breast into the mix.

UF didn’t have any swimmers rank inside our top-20 this season, but their top-billed domestic recruit is probably Mason Laur, a Florida native that can do it all. Laur’s best events on paper come in the 200 fly (1:46.0) and the IMs (1:46/3:50), but he’s also got a good 100 fly (48.2), solid backstrokes (49.6/1:47), and a 1:37.9 200 free. He’s got instant SEC ‘B’ final capabilities with plenty of room to grow.

Argentine Joaquin Gonzalez, a sub-2:00 SCM 200 IMer (1:47 conversion), is well-rounded and could pop off better than the time converter would indicate.

The rest of the class is full of potential, including multiple 20-point/44-point freestylers and lots of guys with IM ability in their back pocket.


It’s quality over quantity for Texas A&M’s class this season, with four freshman mentioned in our class of 2021 re-rank (one Honorable Mention, three ‘Best of the Rest’ appearances) and one big-time transfer coming in the form of Anže Ferš Eržen.

Tyler Hulet was right on the edge of cracking the top 20 recruits in our re-rank after sitting 20th as a junior, having brought his backstroke times down to 47.0/1:42.8 in his final year of high school—both right on the edge of scoring in the top-8 at the SEC Championships.

Ferš Eržen, who transferred to Texas A&M after the University of Iowa cut its swimming & diving programs (the women’s team was ultimately reinstated), brings elite best times in the backstroke and medley events. He’s got NCAA scoring potential in both the 200 back (1:41.64) and 400 IM (3:45.76), and is on the cusp of being an SEC ‘A’ finalist in the 100 back (46.98) and 200 IM (1:44.86).

The unexpected departure of Shaine Casas, a swimmer you simply do not replace, has left a big hole in the backstrokes and IMs, and while Ferš Eržen won’t be expected to fill Casas’ shoes, he will bring in some points in those events.

Munzy Kabbara is a strong IMer with bests of 1:46.5/3:47.6, and gained valuable experience this summer after representing Lebanon in the 200 IM at the Tokyo Olympic Games. Kabbara is also well versed in the 200 back (1:46.6), 200 breast (1:59.7) and 200 fly (1:46.9), so he can serve as a Swiss Army Knife of sorts for the Aggies when needed.

Between Seth Reno (19.7/43.8/1:37.6) and Trey Dickey (4:23/8:59/15:10), each freestyle event gets a nice addition, while Noah Beladi (54.7/1:59.2) is a solid prospect on breaststroke.


A rising tide lifts all boats, and in Ohio State’s case, the tide is contrived of one Aussie and one transfer that instantly made their recruiting class elite.

Alex Quach, an Australian with international experience from the 2019 World Junior Championships, has a monster pedigree coming in with short course meter times of 21.84 in the 50 free, 48.40 in the 100 free and 51.22 in the 100 fly. Those translate out to 19.6/43.6 in the freestyles and 46.14 in the fly, with the latter under the NCAA invite time from last season and the former both close. Quach can also put together a very solid 200 free and 200 fly, making him a very intriguing add for the Buckeyes.

The other big get for the class was Italian Fabio Dalu, the 2021 NCAA Division II Swimmer of the Year who transferred out of McKendree in order to take his swimming career “to the next level.”

Dalu swept the 500, 1000 and 1650 free at last season’s D2 NCAAs (4:19/8:54/14:55), along with winning the 400 IM (3:45), with his mile time under last season’s NCAA cutline and the 400 IM less than two tenths off. He’ll join Charlie Clark in heading up the OSU distance squad, and his 400 IM will be a welcome addition after the Buckeyes had no swimmers finish inside the top-12 at the 2021 Big Tens.

Surrounding those two in the class are the multi-talented Luke Paxton (48.3BK, 48.0FL, 1:49.4 IM), William Bansberg (48.5/1:47 BK, 1:48.7/3:50 IM) and Michael Cooper (1:59.2 BR, 1:49.3/3:48.0 IM), who all bring conference scoring abilities in a variety of strokes and distances.

Karl Helmuth also comes in as a 54.6 breaststroker that has a 20-point 50 free in his arsenal.

#13: Louisville Cardinals

Louisville has historically been an attractive destination for international recruits in recent years, and the trend continues with three nice pickups for the Cardinals from overseas.

The two most noteworthy additions come in with eerily similar best times and are fresh off competing at the Olympic Games: Israeli Denis Loktev and Brazilian Murilo Sartori.

Loktev, who only announced his commitment last month and doesn’t figure to join the team until December, holds a long course 200 free best of 1:46.64, converting to 1:33-low in yards, and also goes 49.4/3:51 in the LCM 100 and 400 free, which translates over to 43.0/4:19.

Sartori holds a slightly faster 200 free time of 1:46.81, and even unloaded a 1:46.09 split on Brazil’s 4×200 free relay in the Olympic final, giving him a 1:33.3 conversion flat-start. He also has 43/4:19 conversions in the 100 and 500 free.

The addition of both men will make Louisville’s 800 free relay lethal, with Nicolas Albiero returning as a graduate senior and Colton Paulson entering his fourth year. Loktev and Sartori project to be challenging for an ACC title in the 200 free beginning this season.

Another Brazilian, Gustavo Saldo, is a respectable 53.8/1:59.4 LCM butterflyer, which converts to 47.2/1:45.0 in yards, putting him within a second of ACC ‘A’ finals.

Local Kentucky native Eli Shoyat brings a strong distance free base, with 4:24/9:11/15:17 PBs, and Georgia’s Tommy Bried is a flyer on the rise with bests of 48.7/1:46.4 and a sub-4:30 500 free.

The Cardinals also pick up a developmental freestyler in Owen Taylor (20.5/44.8/1:38.5) and a pair of backstoke/IMers in Ryan Hogan (1:48.1 BK, 1:51.0/3:54 IM) and John Bossler (1:49.4 BK, 3:56. IM).

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Tomaž Podobnik
2 years ago

Anže Ferš Eržen (Texas A&M) is from Slovenia, not Lithuania.

2 years ago

If I’m not mistaken, Oskar Lindholm (UF) is 6’10 or 6’11. When is the last time you saw a distance swimmer that tall? I wouldn’t be surprised to see him slide closer to the 200 than the 1650.

Reply to  Aquajosh
2 years ago

Clark Smith?

2 years ago

Loktev’s best is 1:46.64 from the relay lead off in Tokyo

2 years ago

Leo Garcia Dove last year for UF so should not be on this list. But you probably should include NICHOLAS HERNANDEZ-TOME

2 years ago

Wonder why Louisville has the designation of an attractive destination for internationals?

Last edited 2 years ago by Deepblue
NC Fan
Reply to  Deepblue
2 years ago

Party with the basketball team?

2 years ago

So 2 guys for OSU who don’t have scoring times at NCAA makes them elite, but 2 guys from Wisconsin both with NCAA scoring times makes them…..honorable mention.

Reply to  Confusedswammer
2 years ago

Wonder why no one from swimswam cares to acknowledge your program….maybe because they aren’t the night HOOOOSIERS!

former swim
2 years ago

On what planet does a 3:47 400 free convert to a 4:19?

Uh Oh Stinky
2 years ago

Oh boy I wonder who will be at the top of this list?!? 🐺🐺

Reply to  Uh Oh Stinky
2 years ago


About James Sutherland

James Sutherland

James swam five years at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, specializing in the 200 free, back and IM. He finished up his collegiate swimming career in 2018, graduating with a bachelor's degree in economics. In 2019 he completed his graduate degree in sports journalism. Prior to going to Laurentian, James swam …

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