Ranking The 2021 Men’s NCAA Recruiting Classes: #9-12

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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 freshman 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

It’s a freestyle-heavy class for the Georgia Bulldogs this season, with a trio of 1:36 200 freestylers set to enter the fray and two more with potential to be there this season:

Mitchell Norton, one of many in-state products in this class, leads the pack with competitive free times of 20.3/43.8/1:36.1, plus a 48.3/1:47.1 backstroke combo and an additional 49.2 100 fly.

While Norton leads that deep group of 200 swimmers, none of Georgia’s 800 free relay members from last season have departed (Luca Urlando, Jake Magahey, Zach Hils and Bradley Dunham), leaving the likes of Norton and others time to continue their development early on without the pressure of being relied upon too heavily.

With that being said, Norton and Reese Branzell also have sub-44 100 frees in their repertoire, and there should be an opening on the 400 free relay.

Branzell’s 43.6 100 free is complimented by a 20.1 50 and a 49.4 100 fly, making the Manalapan, Florida native a very strong sprinting prospect.

On the sprint side, the Bulldogs also pick up local standout Peter Sacca, a member of multiple National Age Group Record-setting relays with the Spartan Aquatic Club, who is extremely versatile with bests of 47.3 in the 100 fly, 20.1 in the 50 free and 49.4 in the 100 back. The 100 fly in particular is huge for the Dawgs, given Camden Murphy’s graduation last season, and his sprint free abilities and relay experience will surely come in handy.

Zach Koum and Henré Louw present a solid distance free duo, set to join reigning 500 free NCAA champ Magahey for some tough sets. Koum’s got a strong 4:23 500 time to back up his 1:36-mid 200, and his 3:54 400 IM and 1:48 200 fly show he can be an option to move around and race other events when needed.

Louw, a South African native, has long course bests of 3:56.8/8:14/15:49 in the 400, 800 and 1500 free, converting to 4:25/9:14/15:30. Also an experienced open water swimmer, Louw will join countryman Neil Versfeld, a UGA alum and associate head coach since 2019, in Athens.

The class also includes breastroker Arie Voloschin, who has instant SEC scoring ability with bests of 53.7/1:58.8 (and he can sprint free, too), and Keegan Streett heads up the remaining swimmers that are full of solid freestyle prospects. Streett’s best event is clearly the 200 free, but his 100 isn’t far off reaching a high level.

#11: Michigan Wolverines

One international recruit, a domestic standout and a key transfer head up a relatively small yet talented class for Michigan.

The biggest get for Mike Bottom and the Wolverines has to be Gal Cohen Groumi, a 19-year-old Israeli native that has accrued a ton of international experience so far in his young career, including making his Olympic debut in Tokyo this summer.

Cohen Groumi’s best events in the long course pool are the 100 fly (51.93), 200 IM (1:59.44), 100 free (49.57) and 200 free (1:47.77), projecting him to be a very valuable collegiate swimmer both individually and on relays.

His 100 fly converts to a 45.5 in yards, right on the cusp of being an NCAA ‘A’ finalist, and the other three events are also just outside of last season’s cutline times (1:44.7 IM, 43.2/1:34.2 FR).

Cohen Groumi actually anchored Israel’s 10th-place-finishing 800 free relay at the Olympics in 1:46.41, which would project him more in the 1:32 200 free range in yards, at least with a takeover, which is huge. Michigan’s currently got a stacked group of 200 freestylers, with their entire Big Ten-winning 800 free relay returning, and with Cohen Groumi, the rich get richer. That depth should also free him up to swim the 100 fly individually instead of tackling a tough double, at least at the conference championships.

The Wolverines have also got one of our Honorable Mentions from the individual rankings in Connor Hunt, a distance freestyler that’s got a 3:50 400 IM in his repertoire.

Hunt is one of the class’s lone swimmers that’s been sub-9:00 in the 1000 free, and can put up top-16 points at the Big Ten level right away with bests of 4:23/15:09 in the 500 and 1650. He’s also been making progress in the 200 free of late, dropping three seconds down to 1:37.4 in his senior year of high school.

The big-time transfer Michigan picked up is former Auburn Tiger Nik Eberly, a 2021 SEC finalist in the 50 freestyle.

Eberly’s got drop-dead speed with a 19.38 50 free, easily an ‘A’ final in the Big Ten last season, and will be a welcome addition after the departure of Luiz Gustavo Borges.

Eberly, who is coming home as a native of Drexter, Michigan, will have up to three years of eligibility remaining, and should push to be a Big Ten ‘A’ finalist in the 100 fly (46.63 PB) as well.

The Wolverine class also gets a talented backstroke/IMer in Indiana native Cameron Luarde, a 1:46 200 backstroker and 200 IMer with a 3:50 400 IM and 55.0/1:59 breaststrokes to boot, and Brendan Fitzpatrick, a Dubai-based swimmer with 1:01-high/2:16-high long course breaststroke times that convert to 53.9/1:59.7.

#10: Stanford Cardinal

Stanford’s class is small but mighty, and it needs to be acknowledged that their ranking doesn’t factor in the addition of individual World Championship medalist Andrei Minakov, who is officially a redshirt freshman after deferring his enrollment last season.

The Cardinal class is headed up by our #13-ranked recruit Matthew Fenlon, who is arguably the best 200 fly prospect the class has to offer. Fenlon ranks second in the class as a whole behind #1 Aiden Hayes, though it seems like there’s a chance Hayes drops that event from his program in college, and Fenlon (1:42.5 yards time) is coming off a massive 1:57.4 swim in the long course pool this summer.

That 200 fly time puts Fenlon into the top-five at Pac-12s and top-16 at NCAAs right away, and also has elite best times in the 100 fly (47.26), 500 free (4:21.41), 200 IM (1:47.74) and 200 back (1:45.71). On top of that, the Badger Swim Club product has a sub-1:50 in the long course 200 free under his belt, indicating he may have more in the tank than his 1:37.3 yards best.

Hayden Zheng, who was bumped from #13 to an Honorable Mention this year, is a top-tier add on breaststroke, with lifetime bests of 53.0/1:54.9, which would’ve placed fifth and sixth at the 2021 Pac-12s, though both were set back in December 2019. Zheng is not just a pure breaststroke either with a 1:47.0 200 IM, giving him three events to key in on in college.

This year’s recruiting class as a whole has several elite swimmers entering the NCAA ranks from Israel, and Stanford’s got a good one in Ron Polonsky, who is coming off of tackling three individual events at this summer’s Olympic Games.

Polonsky’s got a very rare combination of high-end abilities across freestyle, breaststroke and IM, highlighted by his 1:58.95 long course 200 IM PB set in Tokyo. That time converts to 1:45-high in yards, less than two seconds off an NCAA invite, and he’s also gone 1:45.7/3:47.2 in the SCM 200 and 400 free, 55.9 in the LCM 100 back, 1:01.9/2:12.4 in the LCM breast events, and 4:09.6 in the SCM 400 IM.

Needless to say, he’s versatile, and his breaststrokes convert to 54.0/1:55.7, the latter of which would be fifth at last season’s Pac-12s. His potential in the 200 and 500 free, which convert to roughly 1:35.2/4:19.6, make him a potential addition to a future 800 free relay and the ability to race outside of the breast and IM events at various dual meets.

A very solid sprint free pickup is Avery Voss, who owns bests of 20.0/44.1/1:38.4, and the Cardinal have also got a pair of incoming backstrokers in Gabe Machado (48.6/1:45.2) and Hayden Kwan (47.9/1:44.4) to compliment the current corps of Shane Blinkman, Leon MacAlister and Alex Boratto.

#9: Auburn Tigers

The Tigers bring in three swimmers that ranked in the top 20 of our re-rank this year, and they’ve picked up a total of four high-end recruits from the neighboring state of Georgia. The additions give new head coach Ryan Wochomurka a nice boost entering his first campaign.

#14 Henry Bethel and #15 Jacques Rathle jumped up to those positions after being left out of the top 20 as juniors, both coming off phenomenal seasons with similar event specialites.

Bethel, the top-ranked swimmer out of the non-ranked from last year, dropped 1.5 seconds down to 1:45.54 in the 200 IM, and also hit massive best times to get down to 52.9/1:56.7 on breaststroke. All three of those put him in the vicinity of SEC ‘A’ finals (all events Auburn didn’t have any top-eight finishers in last season), and he’s also got a solid 1:37.2 200 freestyle and 1:48.5 200 back in his arsenal.

Rathle, a Thibodaux, Louisiana native, is also a high-end medley swimmer, having progressed down to 3:45.90 in the 400 as a senior, putting him within two seconds of the class’s best. He also has a 1:46.4 200 IM, plus 54.4/1:58.6 breaststrokes and 1:35.6/4:23 freestyles. Both free events in particular improved by a landslide last season, projecting him to be a valuable 800 free relay contributor in future seasons, if not right away.

The third Auburn recruit ranked in the top 20, and the only one of the three that was also featured there as a high school junior, is Spartan Aquatic Club sprinter Nate Stoffle.

Stoffle, who will be joining older brother Aidan with the Tigers, immediately becomes the team’s best 100 backstroker with his PB of 46.63, and he’s right at the top of the squad with his 1:43.51 200. Similar to his club teammate Peter Sacca, Stoffle is a clutch relay performer, including having split 19.5 on a 200 free relay, with his flat-start best sitting at 20.0.

Once a revered sprinting school, Stoffle will be relied upon to contribute right away to Auburn’s 200 free relay, with their top 50 swimmer from last season, Nik Eberly, transferring to Michigan.

But outside of the top three, the other swimmers Auburn managed to pick up are also very strong.

Grant Davis has a quality 500 free at 4:23.7, with a ton of potential to improve in the 200 (1:37.9) and 1650 (15:30) free. Mason Mathias brings a similar skill set with bests of 1:36.5/4:25/15:20 in the freestyles, and the duo will form a competitive distance training group with rising sophomores Mikkel Gadgaard and Michael Bonson.

Not to be overlooked, Andrew Simmons (48.7/1:45.1) and Fletcher Hayes (49.4/1:46.6) add to the backstroke depth of the team.

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Yaboi
13 days ago

Peter Sacca, most underrated recruit listed on this page: absolute relay weapon, and makes an apple pie more American than John Cena on the 4th of July.

Hswimmer
13 days ago

Sacca going 18. Soon heard it here first

Guy
Reply to  Hswimmer
13 days ago

5’5 and already peaked

Hswimmer
Reply to  Guy
13 days ago

Late bloomer 👀👀 6’2 by senior year

DJTrockstoYMCA
Reply to  Hswimmer
13 days ago

17 heard it here – Mooooney in da bank!

Joseph Schooling's Burner
13 days ago

The fact that Auburn got a top 10 commit class despite being such a shit show is honestly impressive.

Rowdy Marsh
Reply to  Joseph Schooling's Burner
13 days ago

It’s not a shit show anymore.

there is more to the story
Reply to  Rowdy Marsh
13 days ago

ummm I wouldn’t be so sure

there is more to the story
Reply to  Joseph Schooling's Burner
13 days ago

Taylor and the previous coaching staff had Auburn headed in the right direction. The only things that “we” (the public) ever read/heard about were situations without the entire context & story.

swimdaag
13 days ago

Auburn out here getting DISRESPECTED. 3 top 20 recruits and swimmers like Mason Mathias not getting the recognition they deserve. Plus you didnt put the transfers they received in Adriel Sanes (an olympian), Trevor McGovern and Rusty Jerger.

DJTrockstoYMCA
Reply to  swimdaag
13 days ago

As much as it hurts, I must concede and agree AU under Coach W has done a masterful job uniting the AU faithful, recruiting very well, assembling a dynamic group of coaches and gal-blame-it maybe pushing the manVOLS down a notch in the SEC standings. Ryan is a great person and proven outstanding coach – Congratulations. (OUCH!)

Rowdy Marsh
Reply to  DJTrockstoYMCA
13 days ago

Yeah, the Auburn S&D family is strong. It’s great what can happen when the AD and those who know what works for the program get together and talk about the future.

DJTrockstoYMCA
Reply to  Rowdy Marsh
13 days ago

Yea, yea I know and am starting to tear up at the thought of AU overtaking the mighty coonskinned hatted orange pied pipers from the hills o Tennessee! Why did AU have to hire Coach W???? Why could they not have left well enough alone??? O well maybe the manVOLS will get lucky and still finish 3rd at SECs. GO VOLS!

there is more to the story
Reply to  Rowdy Marsh
13 days ago

Tell me without telling me that you & your fellow alums conspired to oust the last coach…

there is more to the story
Reply to  DJTrockstoYMCA
13 days ago

“recruiting well”? Please explain

Rowdy Marsh
Reply to  swimdaag
13 days ago

Uh oh, does Auburn have the best recruiting class in the SEC?!

Wocho’s instilling the Auburn swim culture that built champions, and these top recruits will only flourish more in his system vs. Gary’s.

there is more to the story
Reply to  Rowdy Marsh
13 days ago

As you bash Gary, remember that these recruits bought into and signed on for the “culture” he was building at Auburn. If you weren’t there (firsthand) perhaps you shouldn’t presume to know about Coach Taylor’s system.

samulih
Reply to  there is more to the story
12 days ago

yeah, these people were recruited bit earlier than W……

there is more to the story
Reply to  samulih
12 days ago

Yes, agreed. Both the men’s & women’s classes for Auburn started their recruitment process years ago at this point.

Ghost
13 days ago

Matt Sales is going to Georgia in January…..not sure why SwimSwam ignores this or says he is starting next fall?!?! He makes this class a lot better

Peter sacca
Reply to  Ghost
13 days ago

Also forgot Colton Mcgrady.. 20.1/44mid freestyler

JP input is too short
Reply to  Ghost
13 days ago

Yeah, I’d say a LC 22.8/49.3/1:48 free, 51.8 fly, 1:57 IMer moves the needle juuuuuust a bit.

former swimmer
13 days ago

Matty Sates is going to be at UGA in January, that alone makes the class better

BigCarotTop
Reply to  former swimmer
11 days ago

Jacks new focus on academics seems to be paying off

50free
13 days ago

1:58 long course IM to a 1:45 short course is the most laughable conversion I’ve seen.

Hswimmer
Reply to  50free
13 days ago

More like he’s going to go 1:41-43 somewhere in there

tea rex
Reply to  50free
13 days ago

Yeah I thought that too… hope that’s a typo?

Swimm
13 days ago

Spartans Aquatic Club is a speed factory! Producing lots of solid swimmers for such a young team

Hswimmer
Reply to  Swimm
13 days ago

Well they got most of them from Swim Atlanta and Gwinnett

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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