Ranking The 2022 Women’s NCAA Recruiting Classes: #1-4

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We continue our 2022 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 2022-2023 season.

A few important notes on our rankings:

  • The rankings listed are based on our Class of 2022 Re-Rank. “HM” refers to our honorable mentions and “BOTR” refers to our best of the rest section for top-tier recruits.
  • 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.
  • Some teams had not released a finalized 2022-23 team roster at the time these articles were published, meaning it’s possible we missed some names. Let us know in the comments below.

Best NCAA Swimming & Diving Recruiting Classes: Women’s Class of 2022

Previously ranked:

  • #16: Notre Dame Fighting Irish
  • #15: Kentucky Wildcats
  • #14: UNC Tar Heels
  • #13: Ohio State Buckeyes
  • #12: Louisville Cardinals
  • #11: Indiana Hoosiers
  • #10: Michigan Wolverines
  • #9: Texas Longhorns
  • #8: Wisconsin Badgers
  • #7: Duke Blue Devils
  • #6: USC Trojans
  • #5: LSU Tigers

#4: NC State Wolfpack

  • Top-tier additions: #6 Kennedy Noble (AZ – back), #17 Katherine Helms (VA – free/IM), HM Aubree Brouwer (MO – breast), Sarah Watson (Akron transfer – free/fly), Tamryn van Selm (England – free)
  • The rest: Cassie Moses (MO – sprint free), Emma Hastings (NC – distance), Grace Monahan (HI – fly), Meghan Donald (IA – sprint free)

The Wolfpack got three key contributors along with several intriguing depth pieces in this class. Top-10 overall recruit Kennedy Noble is the headliner, bringing in 51.5/1:51.9 backstroke speed to a program that just helped Katharine Berkoff win the NCAA 100 back title over some massive names. Noble and Berkoff should overlap at least one year in Raleigh, and both could easily be scoring together this year – Noble’s best times would have scored in both backstrokes at 2022 NCAAs.

The versatile Katherine Helms has to feel like a big recruiting win for NC State. They recruited her out of Virginia, the backyard of ACC rival and defending national champions UVA (head coached by a former NC State assistant, no less). Helms is a 22.3/48.8 sprint freestyler who is among the better recruits in the class in those events. What makes her really interesting is range up to 1:46.1 in the 200 free and across to a 4:09.8 in the 400 IM. That combination of speed and endurance makes her an especially intriguing prospect to watch across this year.

The Wolfpack also adds sub-minute breaststroker Aubree Brouwer (59.3/2:10.5), along with a pair of 22-second sprinters in Cassie Moses (22.4) and Meghan Donald (22.6). Look for NC State to keep reloading in the sprint free relays after finishing 3rd in the 200 free relay and 4th in the 400 free relay at NCAAs last year.

Coming in as a transfer is Canadian Sarah Watson from Akron, a two-time All-American with scoring capabilities in the 100 fly, 200 IM, and also some freestyle speed that could be utilized in the relays.

English swimmer Tamryn van Selm brings international experience to the squad, having represented Great Britain at the European Championships last month and winning a gold medal as a prelim member of the women’s 4×200 free relay. With long course bests of 55.6/1:59.0/4:13 in the 100/200/400 free (conversions of 48.6/1:44.3/4:43), van Selm should make an immediate impact.

#3: Florida Gators

  • Top-tier additions: #9 Zoe Dixon (VA – IM), #12 Hayden Miller (TX – distance), Emma Weyant (Virginia transfer – distance/IM), Nina Kucheran (Florida State transfer – breast), Caroline Pennington (USC transfer – distance)
  • The rest: Anna Moore (FL – breast), Jessica Strong (FL – breast), Mallory Schleicher (FL – IM)

Florida’s class is bolstered by three huge transfers. None is bigger than NCAA runner-up Emma Weyantwho won a team national title with the Cavaliers as a freshman in 2022 before departing for Florida with three years of eligibility remaining. Weyant was second in the 500 free and fourth in the 400 IM at NCAAs this past spring and is in a position to push for a national title in the 500 this year. Her best times are huge: 4:03.1 in the 400 IM and 4:34.9 in the 500 free. In fact, she’s the #25 performer of all-time in the 500 free.

Nina Kucheran heads across the state from Florida State University, bringing 59.0/2:08.5 breaststroke speed to a Gators program that was sorely lacking a breaststroker last year. She’s a fifth-year senior with just one year of eligibility remaining, but should have plenty of impact on the medley relays in her one season in Gainesville.

Caroline Pennington was an NCAA-scoring miler last year for USC. She brings 15:48 mile speed to Florida, and has three full years of eligibility remaining.

Even without transfers included, this class would still be in our top 10. Zoe Dixon is a big-time IMer, with lifetime-bests of 1:56.21 and 4:06.4. The latter would have scored at NCAAs last spring. Hayden Miller adds an NCAA-scoring mile time. Her lifetime-best is 16:02, right around Weyant’s best, and actually faster than what Pennington went while finishing 11th at NCAAs last year.

#2: Virginia Cavaliers

Virginia reloads after winning the national title with the nation’s #2-ranked recruiting class. The Cavaliers have been on a recruiting tear the past few seasons, and this group will definitely continue to add talent to UVA’s already-ridiculous stockpile.

Transfer Maxine Parker should have the biggest impact early. As a Georgia sophomore last year, Parker had a rough NCAA meet and didn’t score individually. But she did lead off the scoring 800 free relay in a career-best 1:44.2, and has lifetime bests of 21.9 in the 50 free and 47.7 in the 100 free. Those are easily NCAA scoring times, and would even provide upgrades to Virginia’s NCAA champion relays from a year ago. (UVA had a flying-start 47.7 on its American-record-setting 400 free relay, a flying-start 1:44.8 on its runner-up 800 free relay and a flying-start 21.8 on its NCAA champion 200 free relay).

The Cavaliers also bring in two true freshmen with NCAA scoring times already in hand. Carly Novelline is one of the better backstrokers in the class at 51.6/1:53.1, and Emma Weber has already been 59.0/2:09.0 in the breaststrokes.

Claire Tuggle is a bit of an enigma. She was an age group standout who ranked in the top 5 nationally in this class when we ranked them as sophomores and juniors. She hasn’t seen much in the way of time drops since her sophomore year, but still brings in NCAA invite times in the 200 free (1:44.9) and 500 free (4:41.3). She’s got massive potential, as evidenced by elite long course times, and offers huge upside if Virginia can help her break through her recent plateau.

Another name you might recognize from the age group ranks is Zoe Skirbollwho has become one of the more versatile swimmers in the class. She’s a 22.7/49.6 sprint freestyler, but also 1:00.2 in the breaststroke and 1:58.1 in the IM. Virginia will have plenty of options when it comes to writing lineups for Skirboll, and it will be worth watching where she focuses her event selections this fall.

Another noteworthy transfer coming in is Sam Baron from UCLA. Baron, entering her junior year, was an NCAA qualifier in 2021 and bolsters UVA’s butterfly corps with lifetime bests of 51.6/1:55.6.

South Africa’s Aimee Canny is one more key addition. With long course times of 25.2 in the 50 free, 54.7 in the 100 free and 1:58.3 in the 200 free, Canny should be an early NCAA scoring candidate. Those times roughly convert to 22.2/48.1/1:44.6 in yards.

#1: Stanford Cardinal

For the third year in a row, Stanford has recruited the top class in the nation, accumulating a huge stockpile of talent as they try to wrestle the NCAA title back from Virginia. This year’s class is headed by the #1 and #2 recruits in the class – club teammates from North Carolina who have ranked 1 and 2 in this class since they were sophomores.

Claire Curzan is one of the top NCAA recruits of all-time. A U.S. Olympian before she ever sets foot on a college campus, Curzan brings in the best times of any freshman in the nation in a whopping seven different events. She’s the fourth-fastest swimmer in history in the 100-yard butterfly at 49.24, and the sixth-fastest of all-time in the 100 back at 49.52. She can swim up to the 200s extremely well, too, going 1:50.8 in the 200 fly and 1:49.3 in the 200 back. She’ll probably wind up focusing on backstroke and/or butterfly at the college level, doubling in the 100 back/fly and choosing one of the 200s. But she’s also got elite sprint free speed (21.5/47.2/1:42.4) and will be an incredible relay weapon for the Cardinal.

Her TAC Titans teammate Charlotte Hook is the class’s best 200 IMer at 1:54.79, an NCAA scoring time. She’s also 4:06.4 in the 400 IM and 1:52.7 in the 200 fly, with good 200/500 free speed as extra event options.

The other ranked recruits in the mix are #4 Kayla Wilson and #10 Lucy BellWilson is a rangy freestyler who goes 1:43.1/4:42.1 in the middle distances but also 22.5/48.3 in the sprints. Bell is a 51.8/1:54.9 butterflyer with three NCAA invite times already under her belt heading into college.

The relays will get a massive boost from this class. Stanford brings in six true freshman under 23 seconds in the 50 free: Curzan (21.5), Wilson (22.5), Kirsti McEnroe (22.5), Gigi Johnson (22.8), Hook (22.8), and Bell (22.9). They also get five swimmers under 49 in the 100: Curzan (47.2), Wilson (48.3) and McEnroe (48.9).

Even the depth pieces in this class would be stars in any other recruiting class. Natalie Mannion is 52.9/1:54.2 in the backstrokes. Sophie Duncan has lifetime-bests of 1:58.9/4:09.8 in the IMs, the latter being an NCAA invite time. Diver Emilie Moore was a 2020 Olympic Trials qualifier and a finalist at U.S. Junior Nationals.

For those keeping count at home, that’s four ranked recruits and four recruits in our “Best of the Rest” section just outside the top 20, plus one elite diver. The big question is whether this class will be enough to push Stanford back to an NCAA title. There’s really no question about Curzan’s impact. If the rest of the class has good freshman years, the Cardinal will be tough to beat come March.

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1 year ago

Why do we think Claire Curzan will do backstroke over freestyle? Because Stanford needs a backstroker, or because she’s generally moving away from freestyle?

Reply to  Meow
1 year ago

The question is on day 3 she probably chooses between 100fly or 100 back. Both are pretty stacked

1 year ago

When was the last time that the Cal women’s team wasn’t in the top 16 recruiting classes?

Reply to  NoFastTwitch
1 year ago

Probably some time before SwimSwam was ranking the classes.

1 year ago

You’re missing Lauren Malinowski for NCSU.

1 year ago

Where’s Alabama in this mix? Thought they had a Top 5 team and the best hire in years.

Reply to  SoCalGal
1 year ago

This is a ranking of recruiting classes, not teams.

Reply to  Braden Keith
1 year ago

Shouldn’t a top 5 school be able to bring in a recruiting class that makes the top TWENTY rankings?

Reply to  🤷🏼‍♀️
1 year ago

Makes it harder on a young coach when the former coach is negative-recruiting against the new coach on the internet.

Reply to  Braden Keith
1 year ago

Thanks Braden. I get that, but I guess if they were as good as earlier articles that they are recruiting well. Is there something I’m missing?

Reply to  SoCalGal
1 year ago

Alabama brought back almost their entire team from last year. They didn’t have much money to play with in recruiting this year as a result. This is also a class that didn’t know if Margo had the coaching chops to carry forward the team’s success. I think the 2022 results have assuaged a lot of those concerns, so I would expect recruiting to improve in future seasons.

Reply to  Braden Keith
1 year ago

You can’t possibly know the scholarship situation at Alabama. Margo has had ONE year of coaching (in total ever) someone else’s swimmers/recruits and you think this has calmed prospective recruits’ concerns about her coaching prowess? Hard to determine her ability based on a single season. Instead you blame the previous coach (who put Margo and co in Bama’s current team position) as the reason Bama isn’t getting recruits? Could it be the fact that she has one year of experience in coaching amongst other reasons? You seem to have an agenda here.

Reply to  JuanJ
1 year ago

Yeah my agenda is that I think it’s super weird that the former Alabama head coach (who was, by the way, also her boss and HER COACH) goes on the internet and rips her, and I think he should stop doing it.

Also, please stick to one username in any given commenting thread. Thanks!

Reply to  Braden Keith
1 year ago

What platform is this happening on?

NC Fan
1 year ago

Props to Jared for apparently already updating the article within a couple hours based on the comments. I realize It’s very tough to find all the noobs at all of the schools but if you need someone to do a quick scan of the team rosters on their websites for the top 10 schools for a cross reference, then sign me up.

1 year ago

Hopefully one of these incoming freshman can teach a relay start to TH

1 year ago

Probably need to re-rank the top recruits of all time article that went out earlier this year for this class

Beginner Swimmer at 25
1 year ago

Lets go Michigan and Texas!

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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