Ranking The 2021 Men’s NCAA Recruiting Classes: #5-8

Originally published 9/13.  See also:

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.
  • Some teams had not released a finalized 2021-22 team roster at the time these articles were published, meaning it’s possible we missed some names. Let us know in the comments below.

Previously ranked:

  • #16: Florida Gators
  • #15: Texas A&M Aggies
  • #14: Ohio State Buckeyes
  • #13: Louisville Cardinals
  • #12: Georgia Bulldogs
  • #11: Michigan Wolverines
  • #10: Stanford Cardinal
  • #9: Auburn Tigers

#8: ARIZONA STATE SUN DEVILS

After being completely absent in 2020-21 due to redshirting their entire roster, the Arizona State men return this season revamped and ready to roll. This ranking doesn’t factor in all of the redshirt freshmen the Sun Devils have on their roster this season (eight to be exact), which includes Puerto Rican IMer Jarod Arroyo and distance freestyler Lleyton Plattel.

Highlighting the ASU class is Frenchman Leon Marchand, who has been on a tear of late, including a sixth-place finish in the 400 IM and 14th-place showing in the 200 fly at the Tokyo Olympic Games.

One of the best 400 IMers in the world with his 4:09.65 long course best, Marchand’s 3:39.1 converted time would’ve been fourth at the 2021 NCAAs, and once he’s accustomed to racing SCY, it’s easy to imagine him being a champion in the event sooner rather than later.

The 19-year-old Toulouse, France native also holds LCM bests of 1:58.03 in the 200 IM and 1:55.40 in the 200 fly, converting down to 1:43.45 and 1:41.44, respectively. The 200 fly time is right on making the NCAA ‘A’ final, while the 200 IM is in ‘B’ final range. We can’t put too much stock into the specific time conversions—all that needs to be said is that ASU has a swimmer that will likely score at the NCAA level in three events beginning in his freshman season.

Marchand also has a 52.89 100 fly and 2:11.46 200 breast in the long course pool, and can really race any stroke or distance and be competitive at a high level.

Pushing the Sun Devil class over the top and into the top eight was the recently-announced addition of David Schlicht, who comes over from in-state rival Arizona after two seasons with the Wildcats.

The Australian native will join forces with Marchand to form a deadly duo in the medley events. Schlicht was fourth in the 400 IM at NCAAs last season and sixth in the 200, scoring 28 points, and he also took 10th in the 200 breast at the 2019 NCAAs in what remains his PB of 1:52.33.

The additions of Marchand and Schlicht alone are truly massive for Arizona State, capable of legitimately scoring ‘A’ final NCAA points in six events combined, but that’s not all their class has to offer.

The Sun Devils also add a couple of rising sprint freestyle prospects in Jeremy Graunke (19.7/44.0), Patrick Sammon (20.4/44.0/1:37.3) and Christian Osterndorf (20.2/44.3), plus Graunke (48.7) and Essias Smith (48.6/1:49.5) bring some butterfly prowess.

They’ve also got a few more intriguing international recruits in Switzerland’s Tiago Behar and Ireland’s Ethan Hansen. Behar will likely primarily focus on freestyle, with his 50.9 LCM time converting to 44-mid, while Hansen has a solid 2:02.0/2:03.4 200 fly/IM combo, making him an ideal training mate for someone like Marchand.

#7: USC TROJANS

USC’s recruiting class is one of those where it’s tough to leave anyone out of the “Top-tier addition” portion, as they’re all talented enough to come in and make their presence felt from the get-go.

Arizona native Daniel Matheson jumped to 20th in our domestic recruiting re-rank after a big 2020-21 season that saw him make a move towards the top of the class in the 500 and 1000 free (4:20/9:02), plus some substantial time drops in the 200 free (1:35.9), 200 fly (1:45.5), 200 IM (1:47.6) and 400 IM (3:47.6). Another season of improvement will put him inside the NCAA cutline in three events, and he’ll be a future asset on the 800 free relay.

The Trojans also nabbed deadly freestyle sprinter Artem Selin out of Germany, who projects to be the team’s fastest 50 freestyler this season. Selin owns a blazing LCM best of 21.83, which converts down to 18.94, the time needed to finish fourth at last season’s NCAAs. He’ll also be a shot in the arm to the USC 200 free relay and give them a strong medley anchor.

Selin isn’t quite as established in the 100 free long course, with his 49.9 converting to 43.5, but given that drop-dead speed, it seems likely he’ll be tailor-made to rip some fast 100s once he adjusts to SCY.

Vincent Cheng out of Brea, California comes in with an elite 200 fly of 1:45.79, and is also a strong 200 IMer (1:48.5) and 100 flyer (48.60).

USC also picks up a monster transfer in Trent Pellini, a grad student out of Purdue who was an NCAA consolation finalist last season in the 100 breaststroke.

Pellini’s PB of 51.76 is right on the edge of breaking into the NCAA ‘A’ final, and he’s also got competitive bests in the 200 breast (1:55.3), 100 fly (46.3) and 200 IM (1:44.0), making him a valuable Pac-12 scorer.

Another breaststroke add for the future comes in the form of Chris O’Grady, who entered the 2021 calendar year with a 100-yard PB of 56.97 and then hit a 53.62 in April. He’s also been sub-2:00 in the 200 breast and 1:37.5 in the 200 free, and with Pellini and Mario Koenigsperger nearing the end of their college careers, O’Grady will be a crucial sprint breaststroker in future seasons.

It will also be the team’s first full season with Harry Homans, who transferred over from Georgia midway through last season. Homans didn’t race at NCAAs last year, but his best time of 1:42.0 indicates he could be an individual scorer in the 200 fly.

Kevin Sichak (47.6), Mason Morris (48.9/1:47.4) and Mateo Parker (48.4) bring a ton of fly depth with them, and all are solid sprint free prospects with potential for relay contributions down the line.

#6: VIRGINIA CAVALIERS

Third-ranked Jack Aikins leads a very strong class for UVA that was bolstered by the addition of Alabama transfer Matt King, one of the fastest freshman freestyle sprinters in 2020-21.

Aikins is coming off a massive senior season, soaring up to #3 in the class re-rank with one of the fastest times in 17-18 history in the 200 back (1:39.85), plus a bevy of other events where he stands among the class’s elite: 46.05 100 back, 19.6/43.2/1:36.1 freestyles, 1:47.7 200 IM and a 47.6 100 fly.

Two of the three swimmers that have been faster than Aikins before their 19th birthday in the 200 back won NCAA titles—Ryan Murphy and Austin Katz—and his swims at the Olympic Trials this summer further indicate he’ll be a strong performer when the pressure is on.

That 1:39.8 will put him right into the NCAA ‘A’ final, his 100 back will challenge for a second swim, and his freestyle times make him a go-to guy on any relay.

King was 18.9/41.6 in the sprints for Alabama last season, leading the team in scoring at the SEC Championships. He bounced back after being DQed in the 50 free heats to take sixth in the 100 free final at NCAAs, with his fastest clocking of 41.63 making him the third-fastest freshman ever.

The UVA free relays were already in good shape last year with fellow rising sophomore Matt Brownstead coming off a big freshman campaign and August Lamb proving to be a big relay player, but adding King into the fold takes them to the next level.

And let’s not forget about the other recruits—Connor Boyle comes in as a 19.7/43.5 sprinter straight out of high school, adding to the team’s top-tier depth, and Tyler Sicignano has a 20.3 50 to build upon plus 48.2/1:46.7 butterfly times.

Venturing outside of freestyle, Max ‘Scooter’ Iida was a major riser over last season, vaulting himself into the conversation of the class’s best domestic 200 IMers with his best of 1:44.86, seven-tenths outside of the 2021 NCAA cutline.

Iida (53.2/1:59.7) and Daniel Worth (53.0/1:57.5) make up a high-end breaststroke duo for the Cavaliers, both set to join Noah Nichols as the team’s best breaststrokers after the departures of Keefer Barnum and Matthew Otto.

Matthew Styczen (1:48.6/3:49.7) and Colin Bitz (1:48.1/3:50.2) bring solid medley abilities, with Bitz showing off some versatility with a 1:46-flat 200 back and 1:46.9 200 fly.

Peter Thompson has a ton of potential in the distance free events with bests of 4:25/9:05/15:17.

#5: Alabama Crimson Tide

The Crimson Tide bring in a diverse class with several international recruits ready to make an impact and a few Americans on the upswing.

The top domestic recruit comes in the form of 2021 Honorable Mention Mateo Miceli.

Miceli progressed into a backstroke/butterfly weapon in his senior year of high school, and now finds himself just over a second outside of an NCAA invite time in the 200 fly (1:44.86) and seven-tenths off in the 100 (47.01). The Omaha native also has 47.7/1:44.2 backstroke abilities, making him a contender for a top-16 finish in all four events at SECs.

With a strong ‘Bama backstroke group currently intact, expect Miceli to key in on butterfly as a freshman, where he appears to have more upside.

Enter Brazilians Bernardo Bondra and Kaique Alves, who figure to be massive additions that are flying under the radar coming into the season.

Bondra has long course free times of 23.1/49.6, converting to 20.1/43.3, and his best event comes in the 100 fly, where his massive 52.37 LCM time projects him to be fighting for a second swim at NCAAs (45.91).

Alves’s 49.3/1:49.4 free times convert to 42.9/1:35.7, both extremely valuable, and he’s also a converted sub-47 100 fly.

The Crimson Tide also bring in breaststrokers Linus Kahl of Sweden (54.1/1:58.2 conversions) and Georgia (USA) native Nicklas Bohn (54.9/2:00.4), who also present strong 200 IMs for a third event in the NCAA postseason.

Israel’s Gil Kiesler enters the fold for one season out of NC State, and he’ll make an impact in distance free. Set for his graduate senior season, Kiesler owns bests of 4:15.83 in the 500 free and 14:57.71 in the 1650, easily putting him into position to qualify for NCs and potentially score with some small drops. His 1:36 200 free PB could also be of use in the 800 free relay.

Another under-ther-radar member of the deep class is Australian Charlie Hawke, who has a 2:00.1 LCM 200 fly, roughly working out to a 1:45.6 in yards. That’s just two seconds off an NCAA invite, and he can also swim freestyle (1:50.4 LCM 200) and IM (4:25 LCM 400) reasonably well.

Ben Hines (20.0/44.9 FR) and William Watson (48.3/1:50.0 FL) are also nice depth pieces.

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Swimm
7 days ago

Perez (decommit) and Rollins (military) won’t be attending Bama anymore, which would likely drop them a few spots, but a stellar class regardless.

Last edited 7 days ago by Swimm
MLAFORMAT
Reply to  Swimm
7 days ago

I’m assuming that Bama was put at #5 before swimswam took Perez and Rollins of the list. That said, I’d bet part of the reason that class was valued so high is because of the fact that Bondra and Alves are relatively stronger in the short course (meters) pool than long course.

Swimm
Reply to  MLAFORMAT
7 days ago

Agreed. Without Perez and Rollins, they definitely drop to the 7-8 spot (if not a couple lower). Looks like Alves had some great swims at the Jose Finkel meet last month. He’ll be someone to keep an eye on this season at SECs and NCAAS

JP input is too short
7 days ago

Kiesler swam a couple years at NC State with 1:36/4:15/14:57 bests, so probably don’t have to convert him from SCM or LCM at this point.

swimdaag
7 days ago

No way bama should be this high….. nor usc either..

tea rex
7 days ago

ASU has a weird roster. You’d think a team with Schlicht, Marchand and like six 42/1:33 freestylers would have someone under 46 in the back, or under 53 in the breast.

Opal divines
Reply to  tea rex
7 days ago

John Heaphy a 52 100breast and Jack Dolan goes 45 in 100back. Leave it to swimswam comment section to hate on ASU without doing any research

tea rex
Reply to  Opal divines
7 days ago

I’ll give you Heaphy at 52.98. Dolan’s 46.17 unless there was a swim not in USAS database.
Still, don’t you think it’s weird those are A relay times on a team where 1:33 is not?

Taa
Reply to  tea rex
7 days ago

I don’t think it’s that weird. It’s probably their weakest relay and we really have no idea where this team is at since they didn’t swim last year.

Lizard King
7 days ago

Bama above UVA? Not a chance

swimdaag
Reply to  Lizard King
7 days ago

Ayyy whats up jack

Fart Smella
7 days ago

8th is blasphemy for ASU… David Schlicht literally scored more points than USC did at NCAA last year… An Olympic finalist, a National teamer and a junior national teamer.. not to mention adding insane depth in all their weaker events.

Admin
Reply to  Fart Smella
7 days ago

How many usernames are you going to comment under on the same thread in 10 minutes? It’s weird.

Fart Smella
Reply to  Braden Keith
7 days ago

Super weird because this is my one and only comment? Media trying warp the perspective as per usual.

Horninco
Reply to  Fart Smella
7 days ago

IP don’t lie?

Admin
Reply to  Fart Smella
7 days ago

Lol okay “as per usual.”

It was actually a response to another commenter, who deleted their comment. Not sure why it’s appearing threaded under your comment.

The user I was replying to wasn’t even clever enough to change the fake email address they were using – so no IPs necessary ;-).

I’ll check with our developers and figure out what’s up with the threading.

tea rex
Reply to  Fart Smella
7 days ago

It may be your only screen name, but I think it is a lovely one.

Chad
Reply to  Braden Keith
7 days ago

Is it just a different username under the same email? How can you tell it’s the same person?

Chad
Reply to  Chad
7 days ago

Nevermind, you answered my question above.

Bruh
7 days ago

Uva is top 5 easily. Connor and scooter are 19 on relays and Connor is a 43-42 100 free guy. Great breast with worth and iida. And ncaa hard hitter with jack

oxyswim
Reply to  Bruh
7 days ago

If Iida having been 19 on a relay doesn’t really matter when he won’t be on any big FR relays for UVA. And it’s not like 6th is some massive slight from 5th. I think potentially getting 4 years of King gives them a solid argument for 5th, but it’s splitting hairs bruh

Swimm
Reply to  oxyswim
7 days ago

Honestly these rankings don’t really mean anything. They’re just a fun thing to do, and if guys are upset about it, just swim faster and prove people wrong

JP input is too short
7 days ago

So we’re going to have:

  1. Texas (have to be there with Casas/Auchinachie transfers, Connory/Grimm/Hobson supporting)
  2. NC State (best sprint recruiting class ever with Hayes/Curtiss/Hoover/Bustos/Boone? Or maybe best fly recruiting class ever with Hayes/Ponti/Bustos?)
  3. Indiana (Hafnoui a nice cherry on top with Barr/Matheny/Miroslaw also headlining)
  4. Cal (A real nice free relay refresh with Hanson/Jett/Fransdon/Alexy with a couple backstrokers in Saleem/Petty to add to their pipeline there)
oxyswim
Reply to  JP input is too short
7 days ago

Hafnoui is next year’s class.

JP input is too short
Reply to  oxyswim
7 days ago

Ah, yes, thank you. Maybe flip Indiana and Cal then.

Uh Oh Stinky
Reply to  JP input is too short
7 days ago

NC State will be number #1 anything else is idiocy.

JP input is too short
Reply to  Uh Oh Stinky
7 days ago

Not sure how it’s idiotic when Texas picked up a *deep breath* 19.0/41.6/1:30 free, 20.6/43.8/1:35 back, 20.6/44.9/1:38 fly, 1:38/3:38 IM guy.

Plus a 19.1/41.8/1:34 free 21.1/46.2 back guy.

If it was just freshmen, yeah, NC State crushes it. Might be overall the best recruiting class ever.

Uh Oh Stinky
Reply to  JP input is too short
7 days ago

I actually didn’t even remember that snake, KD-esque, ring chaser, with no loyalty transferred. So yeah #1 is a bit more contested.

samulih
Reply to  Uh Oh Stinky
7 days ago

it cannot be idiotic because it is all subjective.

Wahooswimfan
Reply to  JP input is too short
7 days ago

I’d add Ponti to the sprint group even though he’s not likely to swim free except on relays. Have to think anyone with 50.7 100 L fly speed has a 41+ 100 yard relay free in them.

JP input is too short
Reply to  Wahooswimfan
6 days ago

I think he probably slots best 200 IM/100 fl/200 fl. His 400 LC free is 3:51 and 200 IM 1:59 so those are fairly even but I’m guessing training wise the IM makes more sense. He has a good 100 (49.9 flat/48.5 split) but I’m not sure that’s enough to crack a Tapp/Korstanje/Izzo/Stokowski lineup – and that’s not even considering transfer Piszczorowicz (who I didn’t realize transferred there until just now – dang!). As always for the past 6 years or so, NC State has more 100 free guys than they know what to do with.

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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