Ranking The 2021 Women’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.
  • 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.

#16: Michigan Wolverines

Despite being a relatively small class, Michigan picks up two of the top 12 recruits in the class in Letitia Sim and Lindsay Flynn, who both figure to make an immediate impact in Ann Arbor.

Sim was a revelation in her senior year of high school, launching from #16 in our 2020 class rankings up to #4 this year by hitting some monster best times.

The TNT Swimming product got her 100 breast down to 59.01—the fastest in the class—which puts her into NCAA scoring position, and her 200 breast (2:09.5), 200 IM (1:57.4) and 200 fly (1:56.95) are well within striking distance.

Joining Sim is sprinter Lindsay Flynn, who is among the class’s best in the 50 (22.03) and 100 free (48.15), and has proven that she can further elevate her game on relays. Flynn delivered three 50-yard relay legs within the 21.46-21.57 range in March at the same meet, making her an extremely valuable commodity for the Wolverines come Big Tens and NCAAs. Despite a 21.1 split from Maggie MacNeil, Michigan only placed 16th in the 200 free relay at the 2021 NCAAs, so Flynn will be a welcome addition.

Multi-time Colorado 5A State Champion Kathryn Shanley adds a strong distance free presence to the mix, with her 1650 PB of 16:22 three seconds under the NCAA invite time from last year. Shanley’s 1:47.4 and 4:46.1 200 and 500 times will also put her into the battle for Big Ten ‘A’ finals in her first year.

Norwegian Victoria Bergeli brings 22.6 and 54.8 conversions in the 50 free and 100 fly, and Greta Gidley further bolsters the relays of the future with bests of 23.1/49.5/1:48.6 in the freestyles, plus a 2:00 200 IM.

#15: North Carolina Tar Heels

UNC will get a huge boost this season after dropping from fourth to eighth at last season’s ACCs, bringing in a class that has a little bit of everything.

In-state pickup Katie Rauch is just hundredths shy of last season’s NCAA cutline with her 1:55.1 200 back best, and she’s also an elite freestyler—her 4:46.2 500 would’ve made the ACC ‘A’ final last season.

Arizona’s Greer Pattison is a 22-high 50 freestyler, which should instantly put her on UNC’s 200 free relay, and is also an up-and-coming backstroker with bests of 53.5/1:57.0.

The team’s top breaststroker Lilly Higgs is entering her senior season, making the addition of Skyler Smith all the more crucial. Smith, a San Jose, Calif., native, is on the verge of an NCAA cut in the 100 breast (1:00.35), with her 200 currently sitting at 2:14.29.

Danish IMer Mia Duus, who is a few years older than the majority of freshmen at 20, has a 4:41 SCM 400 IM that converts down to a very solid 4:13, and she also has upside to be a player in the 200 fly (1:59.0 conversion).

Elizabeth Sowards adds speed on free (22.8/50.3), back (55.3/1:58.5) and fly (53.9), and Madeline Singletary (4:50/16:39 FR, 4:17 IM) is a distance prospect.

#14: Notre Dame Fighting Irish

Notre Dame adds a sneaky-good class with four swimmers either under or near last season’s NCAA cutline.

Carmel Swim Club product Madelyn Christman swam her way up into an Honorable Mention in our individual re-rank this year after progressing down from 54.4 to 53.2 in the 100 back and 1:57.1 to 1:54.8 in the 200 back. Those two events, along with her 1:59.2 200 IM, would’ve been in the ACC consolation final last season, and are right on the cusp of being in the top eight. Christman has also broken 23 seconds in the 50 free, making her a shoo-in for the team’s 200 free relay.

Long Island Aquatic Club’s Sophia Karras primarily focused on long course last season, but comes in with a 16:20 mile that’s well under the NCAA invite time (16:25) and is easily a top-eight scoring swim at ACCs. Notre Dame has a pair of women in a similar range (rising seniors Madeline Laporte and Samantha Eyolfson) who will make good training partners for Karras, who also has a 4:48.1 500.

Ana Herceg (1:46.3/4:46.3) and Mary Cate Pruitt (1:47.0/4:45.7) are two other intriguing freestyle additions, with Herceg also a 1:55.9 backstroker and Pruitt a sub-2:00 flyer.

The depth continues with backstrokers Jessica Geriane (53.5/1:58.5) and Annie Behm (54.3/1:56.6), plus flyer Madeline Menkhaus (54.1/1:59.5). Reese Lugbill will be a future player on breaststroke (1:02.5/2:13.9).

#13: Indiana Hoosiers

The ever-versatile Mariah Denigan leads Indiana’s class after taking a huge step forward last season, dropping her 400 IM (4:08.35) and 1650 free (16:10.05) by four and 16 seconds, respectively, both well under the time required to score at NCAAs last season.

Denigan is also a 4:42.6 in the 500 free, giving her three top-tier events that will score at NCAAs, and we can’t overlook her scintillating 9:36 1000 free either. After breaking out in long course in 2018, Denigan took a few years to catch up in SCY, but has found the next gear and is entering college riding a ton of momentum.

The rest of the Hoosier class has a ton of depth, with several names just on the cusp of breaking out and being impact swimmers.

They’ve got a quartet of international recruits in Canadian Catherine Minic (2:01.4/4:14 IM, 1:58.1 FLY conversions), Kiwi Brearna Crawford (1:00.7/2:11.1 BR conversions), Peruvian Samantha Bello (1:48.7/4:48.9 FR conversions) and Singaporean Gan Ching Hwee (4:48.9/9:47/16:20 FR conversions), all of whom bring Big Ten scoring and NCAA qualifying potential.

Hwee, who won’t join the team until the second semester, owns a 16:39.7 LCM 1500, giving her that 16:20 conversion that’s more than five seconds under the NCAA invite time from last season.

They’ve also got in-state product Elyse Heiser, a 54.5/1:56.1 backstroker that’s also strong on freestyle (1:47.5/4:49.6), and Kacey McKenna (54.3/2:00.5 BK) and Anna Peplowski (55.4/1:57.8 BK, 22.8/50.1/1:47.2 FR) are two other high-end pickups.

Along with Crawford, Indiana has also added developmental breaststrokers Kabria Chapman and Emma Shaughnessy, both of whom have 100-yard times in the 1:02-range and will be in good hands as IU has emerged as a breaststroke factory in recent years.

The team has also continued its diving pipeline by adding four new names to its roster, giving the Hoosiers a total of 12 divers in 2021-22.

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1 year ago

Will be interesting to see what rauch can do after not swimming well in the last 1.5 years. Hope UNC can bring her back.

1 year ago

Georgia should be top 3 for sure

1 year ago

Pattison to UNC is huge for their relays at ACCs and NCAAs

Just give the trophy to the condors already
1 year ago

Hoosiers > All

1 year ago

Does swimswam hate smaller recruiting classes even when they have incredible talent? Only reason that certain schools like umich and some of the honorable mention schools to be ranked so low

1 year ago

Victoria Bergeli is joining class of 2026, FYI

1 year ago

Just with Sim and Flynn, Michigan should be 100% ahead of everyone here except Indiana, there’s no reason that a 59.01 100 breastroker and 22.0/48.1 freestyler shouldn’t be viewed as enormous individual and relay potential, and should easily be ahead of UNC and Notre Dame

Reply to  Yaboi
1 year ago

Yes, Sim is an immediate impact

Samuel Huntington
Reply to  Yaboi
1 year ago

I agree. 59.01 is extremely fast and Flynn dropping 21 mids is incredibly valuable.

Reply to  Yaboi
1 year ago

yeah agree.. two major impacts, especially at the relay level

Reply to  Yaboi
1 year ago

Those two might cut 4+ seconds off Michigan’s 400 medley relay and, amazingly, that will probably still leave them in 4th place. Could four teams be under the record in that event this year? There’s so much fast swimming going on it blows my mind!

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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