Ranking The 2023 Women’s NCAA Recruiting Classes: #5-8

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


It’s certainly debatable to rank a tiny class like Stanford’s ahead of the likes of Auburn or Alabama, who are bringing in double-digit freshmen. However, if there’s one thing we know about NCAA swimming, it’s that quality outmeasures quantity every day of the week, and the Cardinal have two swimmers who can make an immediate impact at the highest level to go along with a very strong transfer.

Lucy Thomas is already fast enough to be an NCAA ‘A’ finalist in the 100 breast (58.65) and will also score in the 50 free (21.89) based on her incoming best times, with her 200 breast (2:09.16) not far off picking up points.

Thomas will surely be a valuable relay asset, owning a 49-low/1:46-high best times in the 100 and 200 free, and is almost fast enough to score in the IM events despite them being far from her primary focus.

Caroline Bricker is the fastest 200 breaststroker among the 2023 freshman class with a lifetime best of 2:08.01, good for a second swim at NCAAs, and she’s also sub-1:00 in the 100 breast, in scoring position in the 400 IM (4:09.57) and is also strong in the 200 IM (1:57.2) and the fly events (52.6/1:55.7).

Jamie Brennan bolsters this class as a transfer from Northwestern, joining the Cardinal with three seasons of eligibility after qualifying for NCAAs as a freshman.

Brennan is about 1-1.5 seconds shy of NCAA scoring range in both the 200 free (1:45.95) and 200 IM (1:56.87), and she also split 22.06 and 48.73 on Northwestern’s 200 and 400 free relays at NCAAs. That relay ability will help supplement some of the losses incurred by Stanford this season.


One of the five schools to have multiple swimmers ranked inside our top 20, Wisconsin brings in the class’s fastest 50 freestyler in #18 Hailey Tierney and one of the top milers in #20 Maddie Waggoner.

Tierney made a rapid rise through the ranks during her senior year of high school, dropping a second in the 50 free (21.84) and 1.5 seconds in the 100 free (48.52) to solidify herself as a bonafide blue-chip prospect.

Already in NCAA scoring range in the 50 free, Tierney immediately becomes the Badgers’ top sprinter, and should give them a good chance of fielding a 200 free relay at NCAAs this season, something they didn’t do last year.

Wisconsin turned to Abby Carlson, who is more of a 200/500 specialist, to swim the anchor leg of the 400 medley relay last season, and now they’ve got Tierney to take over that position, with her also poised to be the team’s top split on the 400 free relay (that placed 17th, 14 one-hundredths shy of scoring, last season).

Tierney also won the 50 free U.S. Junior National title in long course just two months ago (25.35), giving her a ton of momentum entering her first year.

Boosting the Badgers even further in the sprints is Kit Schneider, the reigning Illinois state champion in the 50 free who brings a 22.59 lifetime best to the table and has also been 49.6 in the 100.

Waggoner heads to Madison with an NCAA scoring-worthy 16:01.98 lifetime best in the mile, and she’ll align with a very strong distance group that features 2022 NCAA champion Paige McKenna and rising sophomore Blair Stoneburg.

Waggoner figures to also the race 500 free (4:45.2) and 400 IM (4:13.4) in college, both events she could end up earning second swims in if she continues to improve.

There’s reason for optimism in the rest of the class, as Tia Primc comes over from Slovenia with some international experience and a 1:00.4 LCM best time in the 100 fly, likely putting her in the 53-mid range.

Izzy Enz is a 1:47.6/4:49.9 freestyler, and Haley Zelen has a 54-mid 100 fly to go along with some sprint free potential.

The Badgers also bring in Lily Gardner, who transfers from Georgia after competing in Athens as a freshman in 2021-22 and sitting out of NCAA action last season. She owns competitive times in the sprint free events, most notably 1:46.2 in the 200 free, but that notably came back in 2020. She’s 22.8/49.5 in the 50 and 100 and 53.8/1:57.8 in the fly events.


NC State’s class is rich in freestylers, with four domestic recruits talented in the sprints and one international newcomer who thrives as the distance increases.

Miriam Sheehan, the 13th-ranked swimmer in our 2023 class re-rank, highlights the class as an all-arounder with competitive times across the 100 back (51.9), 100 fly (51.6) and 100 free (48.8), with a 22.4 50 free also in her arsenal. It’s easy to see her translate into someone who races the 100 fly/100 back double at NCAAs, picks one of the freestyle events, and is relied upon wherever she’s needed in relays.

Tyler Driscoll (22.4/49.8), Madeleine Hebert (22.7/48.7) and Keelan Cotter (22.9/50.2) are also intriguing future sprint relay additions, and Hebert and Cotter are also strong in the mid-distance events, with Hebert already at 1:45.7 in the 200 free and 4:44 in the 500 free, making her a contender for NCAA qualification right away. Cotter is also sub-1:47 in the 200 free (1:46.9).

Hungarian Bettina Fabian, who is expected to join the team for the spring semester, is coming off winning the LEN Open Water Cup series title and should provide a shot in the arm to NC State’s distance group, something the program has been largely lacking since the graduation of Kate Moore.

It remains to be seen how Fabian’s recent focus on open water will translate to yards, but she has been 4:07.8 in the LCM 400 free, good for a 4:38 conversion in the 500 free, and her 16:29.6 in the 1500 free checks out at 16:14.8. She’s also been 1:56.7 and 8:25.6 in SCM for the 200 and 800 free.

Incoming diver Bayleigh Cranford finished in the top five of all three individual events at the 2023 USA Diving Junior Nationals, making her a potential contributor down the line.

Bella Answeeney is the reigning FHSAA 4A champion in the 100 fly (53.7) and also brings a 1:57.3 200 fly and 55.8 100 back to the table to supplement the class.


The Lady Vols bring in a well-rounded class that features one of the top recruits in the nation, Camille Spink, who can step in and challenge for some big NCAA points right from the jump.

Spink is already fast enough to be in the ‘A’ final of the 200 free, owning a best time of 1:43.82 and coming off of setting a LCM PB of 1:58.7 at U.S. Nationals. She’s also 22.1/48.1 from a flat start in the sprint events, and is 52.7 in the 100 back and 1:58.8 in the 200 IM.

Projecting to be a scorer in all three freestyle events, Spink will also play a significant relay role for the Vols throughout her career.

Joining Spink in the class is Honorable Mention recruit Sophie Brison, who has an elite 200 back time of 1:53.29 that puts her within half a second (0.53) of NCAA scoring in 2023. She’s also 53.6 in the 100 back, 1:46.8 in the 200 free and 2:00/4:14 in the IMs.

Swedish native Emelie Fast heads to Knoxville with an impressive breaststroke resume, including a 1:06.64 best time in the 100-meter event (LCM). Fast has been more in the 1:08 range this past year, but should still be sub-1:00 and make for a good training partner for star breaststroker Mona McSharry. Fast is also 2:22.3 in the SCM 200 breast and 2:28.3 in LCM.

Tori Brostowitz (1:00.9/2:14.5) and Molly Blanchard (1:01.8/2:13.2) add to the breaststroke group with potential, and Blanchard has also been 2:00/4:16 in the IMs.

New Zealander Laura Littlejohn was with the team late last season but raced unattached, putting up times of 22.71 and 48.75 in the sprint free events. That makes her another big-time prospect joining the fold, with long course bests sitting at 25.5/55.4.

Rounding out the class, Florida transfer Katie Mack comes over to an SEC rival for her fifth year of eligibility with blistering times of 21.82, 48.53 and 1:45.38 in the free events from last season.

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Sherry Smit
2 months ago

Lily Gardner for Wisconsin also. Transfer from UGA.

(22.8/49.5/1:46.2 FR, 53.8/1:57.8 FL)

Last edited 2 months ago by Sherry Smit
2 months ago

The Lady Vol machine will finish 5th at NCAAs this year. Coach K is an out of the box savant genius who might be the brightest coach ever. Paired with Dave Pairngton the diving coach will eventually lead to NCAA Team Championship to Rocky Top.

2 months ago

Wisconsin also added transfer Lily Gardner – should impact 800/400fr !!

2 months ago

Not to belabor this, but NC State’s Cranford will score at NCAAs this year and be top 5 at Olympic Trials for tower.

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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