Ranking The 2023 Women’s NCAA Recruiting Classes: #1-4

With the NCAA season upon us, it’s time for our annual rankings of the incoming recruiting classes for the 2023-24 campaign.

See also:

We continue our 2023 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 2023-2024 season.

A few important notes on our rankings:

  • The rankings listed are based on our Class of 2023 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 being 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, though weighed less than recruits who came in with four seasons of eligibility.
  • 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 2023-24 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: Texas A&M Aggies
  • #15: Northwestern Wildcats
  • #14: North Carolina Tar Heels
  • #13: Cal Golden Bears
  • #12: Princeton Tigers
  • #11: Alabama Crimson Tide
  • #10: Auburn Tigers
  • #9: USC Trojans
  • #8: Stanford Cardinal
  • #7: Wisconsin Badgers
  • #6: NC State Wolfpack
  • #5: Tennessee Volunteers


The Michigan women fell from 7th in 2022 down to 23rd at NCAAs last season after the departure of Maggie MacNeil, but they’re reloading with a stacked recruiting class to go along with the arrival of new head coach Matt Bowe.

The Wolverines bring in 10th-ranked Hannah Bellard, an all-arounder with NCAA ‘A’ final potential in her freshman year, to go along with three other BOTR swimmers and Brazilian Olympian Stephanie Balduccini.

Bellard’s best event would probably have to be the 200 fly, as she owns an elite best time of 1:53.20 (NCAA ‘A’ final worthy) and placed 6th at World Juniors while representing the U.S. in September after hitting a long course PB of 2:09.92 in August.

A local product out of Club Wolverine, Bellard is already fast enough to score in the 400 IM (4:08.62) and is also very strong in free (1:46.4/4:41/16:07), and the 100 fly (52.5), 200 IM (1:59.9) and 200 back (1:56.3).

Other highly-touted domestic recruits entering the fold this season are distance freestylers Madison Smith and Mattea Sokolow, plus versatile sprinter Lexi Greenhawt.

Smith is coming off setting numerous best times at the NCSA LC Championships in July, including a notable 4:12 showing in the 400 free, and owns SCY bests of 4:44.6 and 16:21 in the 500 and 1650 which make her a top-tier distance recruit.

Sokolow has a similar skillset, though her best event is clearly the mile, where her 16:16.5 PB puts her within three seconds of what it took to qualify for NCAAs last season (16:13.73).

Greenhawt brings the classic 100 fly/100 back combo to the mix, with her 52.5 100 back just shy of the 2023 cut line and her 53.0 100 fly within eight-tenths. She’s also a 22.7/50.0 freestyler to bring some relay value.

Balduccini is a big-time addition after years of being one of Brazil’s top female freestylers, as she heads to Ann Arbor with long course bests of 25.4/54.1/1:57.5, giving her conversions of 22.3/47.8/1:43.8. She’s a likely scorer individually, maybe in all three events, and will be critical to the team’s relay performance.

The class’s depth is put on display with the likes of Anna Boemer (52.7 fly), Taylor Morris (53.5/1:56.4 back) and Lily Cleason (53.7/1:57.3 back) also coming in with competitive times.


The three-time defending national champions reload with an impressive class that’s led by club teammates Cavan Gormsen and Tess Howley, who bring very different abilities to the table but are poised to contribute at the NCAA level on the country’s best team.

Ranked #4 and #5 in our 2023 class re-rank, Gormsen and Howley have been a dynamic duo for the Long Island Aquatic Club and Sacred Heart Academy for the last few years, and they figure to do the same for the Cavaliers in the coming seasons, with Gormsen an elite, rangy freestyler and Howley an extremely versatile swimmer who specializes in fly.

Virginia had at least one ‘A’ finalist (or top-eight finisher) in every individual event at NCAAs last season except for the 500 and 1650 free, which is something that should certainly change with the addition of Gormsen. She’s been faster in the 500 free (4:36.34) than the NCAA winning time last year (4:36.62)—though Florida freshman Bella Sims has been 4:28.6—and is also in position to score in the 1650 free (15:57.20) and has a 200 free time (1:44.48) that would’ve missed the ‘B’ final cutoff by .01 at the 2023 NCAAs.

Howley is coming off winning the 100 and 200 fly at U.S. Junior Nationals in August, setting new long course bests of 58.99 and 2:06.85, and comes into college with an ‘A’ final worthy yards time of 1:52.76 in the 200. In the 100 fly, she’s been 51.98, about three-tenths shy of earning a second swim, but could also end up racing the 200 free (1:45.5), 100 back (52.9) or 400 IM (4:13.4) on the penultimate day of NCAAs.

Both Gormsen and Howley are also 49-low 100 freestylers, making them future relay contributors.

California native Maggie Schalow will join Howley in the UVA fly group as she enters with times of 52.5/1:56.7, and she’s also very versatile freestyler with times of 49.7/1:46.9/4:47.8.

Lainey Mullins could also end up training with Howley and Schalow as she’s coming off a long course PB of 2:10.99 in the 200 fly, with her SCY best sitting at 1:57.0. Also a 4:13 IMer and 4:45 freestyler, Mullins seemingly has three clear events to focus on and can challenge for an NCAA invite in all of them.

Maybe the most impactful transfer of the offseason, Jasmine Nocentini joins the Cavaliers from Northwestern after an injury-riddled campaign saw her miss the 2023 NCAA Championships after a strong start to the season.

Nocentini brings the rare sprint free/breast skillset to the table, with best times of 21.76 in the 50 free, 47.76 in the 100 free and 58.31 in the 100 breast, all good enough to score at NCAAs with the 100 breast being top-eight worthy. The Italian native will help supplement the loss of Kate Douglass on the UVA relays, and she’s also capable in the 200 free (1:45.4).

New Zealander Aimee Crosbie is a sprint prospect with potential, owning a long course 50 free time of 25.8 as she enters college.


Texas’ class is loaded with elite freestylers, but is headlined by the #2 ranked recruit in the class, Campbell Stoll, who is a true all-arounder and is coming off a standout senior year that saw her drop nine seconds in the 400 IM.

Stoll is now 4:05.7 in the 400 IM, good for an NCAA ‘A’ final, and she can also score in the 200 fly (1:54.4) and 200 breast (2:08.2) right away and has NCAA invite times in five other events: 200 IM (1:55.9), 100 breast (59.4), 100 fly (51.6), 100 back (52.6) and 200 back (1:54.1).

Stoll will likely be Alex Walsh-esque in that she’ll swim both medley events at NCAAs and then have a decision to make between the 200 breast and 200 fly.

Erin Gemmell is the top sprint freestyler in Texas’ class, heading to Austin after winning a silver medal at the 2023 World Championships on the U.S. women’s 800 free relay. Gemmell is 1:43.45 in the 200 free, good for an ‘A’ final, and she surely has time to drop based on what she’s done in LC, with 50/100 free bests of 22.7/48.1. That 100 free time still puts her within two-tenths of NCAA scoring, and she could even opt for the 500 free (4:40.6) over the 50 if she wanted.

Also joining the squad coming off the World Championships is Jillian Cox, who was 6th in Fukuoka in the 800 free and figures to make a significant drop in the mile this season given that she just broke 8:20 in LCM. Cox is well inside scoring position in the 500 free (4:37.8) and close in the 1650 free (16:03.4), with the 200 free (1:45.3) not too far off.

The fourth top-20 recruit in Texas’ class, Berit Berglund is a 51.3/1:53.5 backstroker, giving the Longhorns an insant scorer in the 100 event and someone new in the pipeline who can team up with and eventually take over for their current backstroker Olivia Bray.

Emma Kern (51.9 back, 52.2 fly, 22.4 free) is an excellent sprinter, Alexa Fulton (22.4/48.6) adds to the freestyle depth, and Angie Coe is versatile with a 1:00 100 breast and 1:57 200 IM.

Texas will also add two transfers from Cal, former 200 IM NCAA scorer Alicia Wilson and freestyler Emma Davidson, while incoming diver Caroline Kupka has represented Norway numerous times on the international stage, including at the 2023 World Championships.

Davidson could end up being a valuable relay player this season, having split sub-22/sub-48 last season, and Wilson hasn’t raced collegiately since March 2022 but is coming off a solid showing at the U.S. Pro Championships in long course, posting times of 2:12.3 in the 200 IM and 2:13.0 in the 200 back. She has elite best times in a number of events that could conceivably score, led by the 200 IM (1:53.58).

Another diver, Amanda Stalfort, is a multi-time Virginia 6A state champion.


On the heels of winning their first SEC title since 2009, the Gators bring in a truly exceptional class. They may only have one swimmer ranked inside our top 10, but she’s one of the best recruits in recent memory, and on top of that, Florida has four more swimmers ranked in the top 20, three more who were either an Honorable Mention or BOTR in the class of 2023 re-rank, three international freshmen and a truly elite top-tier transfer.

Bella Sims heads to Gainesville with an Olympic silver medal and three World Championship medals already on her resume, and for all that she’s accomplished in long course so far in her young career, she’s undoubtedly better in SCY as of now. Sims owns times in four different events that would’ve won the NCAA title in 2023: 200 free (1:40.78), 500 free (4:28.64), 1650 free (15:40.68) and 400 IM (3:56.59).

She’s the fastest in the class in a total of 10 events (out of 14, including the 1000 free), and could realistically challenge for the national title in backstroke or butterfly. The 500 free and 400 IM figure to be her two clear choices as individual focus collegiately, with maybe the 200 back the top option on Day 4 of NCAAs, but the Gators will have no shortage of options given Sims’ skillset.

She’ll help the relays immeasurably and is so good in so many different events she could end up deciding her entries based on team need.

The other swimmer in Florida’s freshman class who is more distance-oriented is Michaela Mattes, who is already fast enough to be an NCAA scorer in the 500 free (4:39.9) and 1650 free (16:00.2) and is also close in the 400 IM (4:10.3). A training partner of Summer McIntosh with the Sarasota Sharks, Mattes will now get the chance to train alongside the likes of Sims, Katie Ledecky and Emma Weyant in Gainesville.

Transfers Caroline Pennington (USC) and Summer Smith (Tennessee) are also distance specialists, with Pennington having had to sit out last season due to the one-time transfer rule, while Smith was dealing with concussion syndrome.

Pennington’s best time of 15:48.69 would’ve been 3rd at NCAAs last season in the mile, while Smith (4:43/16:09) could also score with some slight improvement.

Julia Podkoscielny is primarily an IMer with a 4:08.0 best time in the 400 (1:58.7 in the 200), and she’s also a good backstroker (53.3/1:55.3), something this Gators class is rich in.

In addition to Sims and Podkoscielny, Florida also brings in JoJo Ramey (53.5/1:52.4), Carly Meeting (52.9/1:55.4) and Catie Choate (53.3/1:54.9), giving them a plethora of backstroke talent for the foreseeable future.

Grace Rainey is the top breaststroke recruit for the Gators, with a near-scoring time in the 200 (2:08.6) and within half a second in the 100 (59.7). She’s also a 1:58/4:12 IMer.

Lainy Kruger has butterfly covered with a 1:55.5 200 fly that’s fast enough to score right away. She’s still got room to grow in the 100 fly (53.8), but could also end up racing freestyle (49.2/1:46.1) or even breaststroke (1:01.3).

From the international side, Florida adds two breaststrokers, Ireland’s Molly Mayne and New Zealand’s Melissa Cowen, who have both been 1:09 in long course which should put them somewhere in the 1:00 range in yards. Mayne is also sub-2:30 in the 200.

Canadian Lilly Daley adds to the team’s sprinting group as a 25.9/55.3/2:00.5 long course freestyler, making her valuable in relays down the line, and maybe even right away.

Topping things off is the addition of Isabel Ivey, the Cal transfer who didn’t compete last season but had one runner-up finish (200 free) and one 3rd-place finish (200 IM) at the 2022 NCAA Championships.

Ivey can really do it all, and should score ‘A’ final points in the 100 free (46.9), 200 free (1:41.3) and 200 IM (1:53.0), not to mention the boost she’ll give the relays. (She’s also 50.4 in the 100 back, 50.6 in the 100 fly and 22.0 in the 50 free.)

Ivey’s presence this season will also take some of the pressure off the freshmen, giving them some runway to settle into college rather than feel as though they need to perform right away.

Diver Ava Monroy has represented Mexico in international competition, so there could be some potential for more points there, too.

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Sherry Smit
2 months ago

Florida gets Caroline Pennington (15:48.69) miler.

2 months ago

Crazy how Florida has 5 in the top 20 and will do absolutely nothing with them

Reply to  Andrew
2 months ago

Such a ray of sunshine 🙂

Sherry Smit
2 months ago

Florida also gets Caroline Pennington this year. 15:48.69 1650 freestyler, could certainly challenge for an NCAA title this year if Sims doesn’t swim it.

Sherry Smit
Reply to  Sherry Smit
2 months ago

ignore this comment

2 months ago

It is interesting to me that Nocenti is mentioned but Curzan isn’t.

That feels like a big miss.

Reply to  Robert
2 months ago

Curzan is taking a year in residence (because she entered the transfer portal late), therefore she has to sit out a year and won’t be competing for Virginia in 2023-24 even though she is taking a full course load.

Last edited 2 months ago by Coleman Hodges
Reply to  Robert
2 months ago

Curzan is a red shirt this year, won’t compete for UVA.

2 months ago

Why would Gemmell even consider the 50 when the 500 has been so weak at NCAAs and she has been 4:05.0 in the 400 lcm and 4:00 scm?

Sherry Smit
Reply to  IMO
2 months ago

I honestly wonder if she’ll swim up to the mile. For what it’s worth, 4:05.0 in the LC 4FR suggests she could be around 15:50-16:00

Reply to  Sherry Smit
2 months ago


Last edited 2 months ago by FFT
Reply to  Sherry Smit
2 months ago

She doesn’t like the mile, won’t happen.

Reply to  Sherry Smit
2 months ago

I agree she has the talent to swim the mile, but I would bet she swims the 100 last day for a number of reasons. 1) her best bet for international teams is 100 (6 slots) vs the mile, and the 100 is a closer fit to her 200 prowess training wise and 2) Carol would much prefer team scoring wise in the 100 along with Pash, while she has the 1650 covered with Sullivan, Cox and rapidly improving Pfieffer

2 months ago

I’ll quibble with Gormsen and Howley’s 49 lows making them future relay contributors only because of how loaded the UVA sprint crew is. They have 4 returners with 48.1 flat start bests or better, Alex has been 46.4 with a relay start and Tiltmann has been 47.7 with a relay start. Then Moesch and Hayes come in next year and they’ve already been 47.7 and 48.3 respectively. Gormsen’s 200 time makes her a potential relay contributor right away.

Reply to  oxyswim
2 months ago

Yeah if you can’t split at least 47 low you’re not even going to be considered for that relay.

2 months ago

Dr. Ono for the win!!! Smart A** man!

2 months ago

Go Blue!!

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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