NCAA recruiting churns on, and so do our yearly recruit rankings. We’ve already ranked out the top recruits in the current high school sophomore and junior classes, but now it’s time to revisit our recruiting ranks of the graduating seniors.
As recruiting classes get closer to actual NCAA competition, we start to weigh certain factors more heavily: NCAA scoring times become more important, and we tend to value one or two standout events a bit more heavily (compared to a wide range of just decent events) than we would for a high school sophomore who has more time to develop across the board. Having already ranked this class about a year ago, we also get a clearer picture of momentum and trajectory: which recruits are continuing to drop time through their senior seasons, and which have stagnated.
You can look back on our original ranks for this class below, but do remember that those ranks are merely a snapshot in time – we didn’t have a working crystal ball then, nor do we now:
- Lots of improvements throughout high school
- Awesome class for free relay depth
- Thin in distance, but distance guys have range
- Great and fast-rising breaststroke group
- 100 speed coming around across the board
When we ranked this group last year, we noted that it’s not a top-heavy class with a Hoffer/Whitley/Kibler type at the top, but that the class as a whole was rising fast. That only accelerated over their senior seasons, as we have a ton of time drops causing fluctuation within our top 20. NCAA scoring times are still very rare (we count three of them in this class), but there’s a lot of depth, and depending on how well improvement curves continue with a change in scenery, we could see a low-impact freshman class next spring, or one with a whole bunch of scorers and relay contributors.
This class is monstrous in the relay-distance freestyles. This season will be the year to restock the cupboards for free relay depth. The 100 free is probably the best event for this group as a whole: we count at least 13 guys going 43-something in that event, with a whole crowd more in the 44-lows. Different recruits extend down as low as 19.6 in the 50 and 1:33.7 in the 200, and most guys in that group are very good in at least two of the three relay distances. A couple of these guys will probably develop into true star sprints (think 18/41/1:32 types), but the rest will still be very relevant as the third or fourth guy on free relays. So even if this class doesn’t score a ton of individual points early, they’ll have an impact – including a number of guys who got crowded off this list entirely.
The flip-side is that it’s not a terribly deep distance class. There’s one standout at the top, but the rest of the distance group is developmental. What’s intriguing, though, is how many distance swimmers already come down fairly well (think 1:37 or so) to the 200 free. That’s not enough yet to make an impact, but for a distance swimmer, a good 200 free takes your ceiling from “two great events” to “three great events and a relay” – that’s a major jump in terms of NCAA impact.
This class is also great in breaststroke. We have four guys going sub-53 already, and all of them are dropping time well. With the way last year’s freshman class of breaststrokers (Max McHugh, Reece Whitley, Zane Backes) performed, the NCAA is about to get very deep in the breaststroke events. Next year’s class adds a couple of ringers to that field, too.
Last year, we noted that this class was a little more slanted to the 200s of strokes than the 100s, but that seems to have evened out over their senior seasons. The 100 speed has arrived. The fly class is a little thin but has a couple haymakers at the top. The backstroke group is the only one where the 200 remains considerably stronger than the 100.
|Top Times in the Class of 2019|
|50 Free||Jack Dolan||19.62|
|100 Free||Hunter Tapp||43.16|
|200 Free||Jack Walker||1:33.73|
|500 Free||Jack Walker||4:15.02|
|1000 Free**||Ross Dant||8:50.29|
|1650 Free||Ross Dant||14:46.20|
|100 Back||Brendan Burns||46.24|
|200 Back||Peter Larson||1:41.60|
|100 Breast||Liam Bell||52.21|
|200 Breast||Caspar Corbeau||1:54.21|
|100 Fly||Brendan Burns||46.10|
|200 Fly||Brendan Burns||1:42.22|
|200 IM||Jake Foster||1:43.99|
|400 IM||Jake Foster||3:42.28|
**The 1000 free isn’t an event at the Division I NCAA Championships, but is swum instead of the 1650 in many Division I dual meets and is part of the NCAA program in Division II.
Our goal in these rankings is to reflect what college coaches look for in recruits, based on many years of conversations and coverage.
We focus only on American-based athletes, simply because there is so much uncertainty with international recruits – if they’ll come to the states, when they’ll come to the states and with what graduating class they should be ranked. Projecting international recruits often becomes more a discussion of when they’ll first join a college program and not which program they’ll join.
A few other factors that weigh heavily in our rankings:
- Relay Value – Relay points count double in college swimming, and any program needs a strong stable of quality sprinters to fill out all 5 relays with studs. Obviously, a special distance swimmer can easily rank ahead of a very good 100 freestyler, but college swimming generally values a sprint freestyler over a distance swimmer, all other factors being equal.
- Improvements – Actual times are a the trump card, but any big improvements in quality can make a difference as well. For example, a swimmer who only took up year-round swimming as a junior in high school going the same time as a swimmer whose been swimming year-round since they were 8 will probably get the edge in our rankings. Think Breeja Larson.
- Short Course over Long Course – we recognize that some programs, many programs, put their focus with their high school aged swimmers on long course, especially depending on when the high school championships may fall. That said, college swimming is short course, so a swimmer who is great in short course but struggles in long course will have the advantage over the reverse.
- NCAA scoring ability – NCAAs are the big show for college teams, so we’ve weighted NCAA scoring potential very highly. Swimmers who already have NCAA scoring times wind up mostly filling out the top our of rankings. Since college athletic directors – and by extension coaches – also place high value on conference championships, scoring ability at conference meets is also a factor in our rankings.
- Relative depth in the NCAA and recruiting class – a wealth of elite depth nationwide in one stroke discipline makes a big difference in what times are considered more valuable in that event. Events rise at different rates in the NCAA, but when one event gets extremely deep and fast at the college level, it makes high school prospects in those events a little less valuable, relatively, with lots of other veteran options. In the same way, a recruiting class stacked with swimmers in butterfly, for example, would make each butterflyer a little less sought-after in the market, with lots of other recruiting options able to provide similar production.
Of course, there’s no way to predict the future, and the most concrete data we have to go on are cold, hard times. These rankings in no way mean that all of these 20 swimmers will be NCAA standouts, and they certainly don’t mean that no swimmer left off this list will make big contributions at the NCAA level.
With that out of the way, let’s get to our rankings.
Disclaimer: there are a lot of high school seniors in the country, and no really good, complete, 100% accurate listing of them all. If you don’t see your favorite swimmer on the list, feel free to politely point them out in the comments. There’s a chance that we disagree with your assessment of their spot in the top 20, and so long as it’s done civilly, there’s no problem with differences of opinions. There’s also a chance that we’ve simply missed a no-brainer (we’ve taken every precaution to avoid that), and if that happens, we want to make sure we correct it.
TOP 20 SWIMMERS FROM THE CLASS OF 2019
1. Brendan Burns (Previous Rank: #2) – Upper Mainline YMCA – Conestoga High School – Berwyn, PA **Verbally committed to Indiana**
Best Times: 200 free – 1:34.15, 200 fly – 1:42.22, 100 fly – 46.10, 100 back – 46.24, 200 back – 1:42.17, 100 free – 43.60, 50 free – 20.09, 200 IM – 1:44.87
Burns jumps past Foster in our ranks, though it’s still very much a toss-up between the two of them. Probably the biggest factor is Burns’ huge 200 free improvement (1:36.0 to 1:34.1), which adds to his relay cred, and a 1:47.2-to-1:44.8 in the 200 IM is pretty exciting as well. Burns is the best flyer and backstroker in the entire class, and he’s going to have a wealth of lineup options at the NCAA level. Burns is fantastic underwater – his YNats butterfly races are a masterclass in turns and kickouts. In this 100 fly, he gets obliterated off the start and still manages to have the field torched by about 60 yards in (Burns is in the white cap in lane 5). It’s hard to say what’s better: his open turns or his flip turns. His backstrokes were the only key events to not improve over his senior year, but this 2018 race video shows how well he attacks his flip turns. Indiana has some pretty good backstrokers still on the roster, so Burns may get to focus on fly and free, and his 200s should mesh perfectly with IU’s strengths in training for endurance.
2. Jake Foster (Previous Rank: #1) – Mason Manta Rays – St. Xavier High School – Montgomery, OH **Verbally committed to Texas**
Best Times: 400 IM – 3:42.28, 200 IM – 1:43.99, 200 breast – 1:54.27, 100 breast – 52.92, 500 free – 4:17.94, 200 free – 1:37.85, 100 free – 44.72, 50 free – 20.82
Foster is a very worthy candidate for the #1 spot as well. Unlike Burns, he comes in with an NCAA scoring time already: and it’s in the 400 IM, where scoring times out of high school are exceedingly rare. Foster is also the best 200 IMer in the class and the second-best 200 breaststroker by hundredths, though the rest of the class has caught him in the 100. The versatility of a great 400 IMer is such a draw for college coaches, and Foster is easily the best high school IMer we’ve seen since Andrew Seliskar in 2015. Foster has an absolutely crushing arm catch in all four strokes – he’s extremely efficient with his pull. That kind of feel for the water bodes well for his ability to translate strength gains into pool speed. Foster is a pull-driven breaststroker and he’s got a pretty late kick – but that ultimately makes him really efficient in longer distances and doesn’t seem to impact his ability to turn the stroke over in the short-range. That’s going to give him relay value in the medleys early on, even if his freestyles need some drops to contend. We don’t factor in where a swimmer committed as part of our ranking, but it’s very possible Texas would rather have Foster than Burns, given their breaststroke shortage of the past few years.
3. Jack Walker (Previous Rank: #4) – SwimMAC Carolina- Myers Park High School – Charlotte, NC **Verbally committed to Virginia**
Best Times: 200 free – 1:33.73, 500 free – 4:15.02, 100 free – 43.52, 50 free – 20.08, 100 back – 48.25
Walker is the best 200 freestyler in a good class of 200 freestylers. When we ranked him 4th a year ago, it was mostly based on his 100 and 200 frees. But Walker has put the work into his range, dropping from 4:22 to 4:15.0 in the 500, and that’s now probably his second-best event. (It’s also a 2019 NCAA invite time, which are pretty rare among high school boys). The concern is that he didn’t drop time in his 200 free as a senior, but did go 1:34.1 the day after his lifetime-best 500, so he’s not far off. Walker has a massive frame, a lot of muscle and one of the longest strokes you’ve ever seen. During that 4:15 500, he powers away from the Winter Juniors field with about half the stroke tempo of anyone else. He looks like he’s warming up, and he’s still crushing the field. That does come back to bite him a little as he struggles to turn his tempo up at the end when Jake Magahey makes a charge. But his natural size and strength aren’t something you can coach, and they probably make Walker uniquely suited for a 200/500 combo that can come down decently well to the 100 and its added relay value.
4. Caspar Corbeau (Previous Rank: #6) – Tualatin Hills Swim Club – Sunset High School – Portland, OR **Verbally committed to Texas**
Best Times: 200 breast – 1:54.21, 100 breast – 52.91, 200 free – 1:35.85, 100 free – 43.22, 50 free – 19.85, 200 IM – 1:47.16
Corbeau has such an exciting event portfolio for the NCAA format. He’s the best two-distance breaststroker in the class, with times a tick ahead of Foster in both the 100 and 200, and he’s got elite relay-distance freestyle times to boot. That’s pretty rare in this discipline – most breaststrokers tend to be one-trick ponies or occasionally crossover IMers. Corbeau has made big strides in his breaststrokes since last year (53.4/1:55.9 to 52.9/1:54.2) and is extremely close to NCAA invite range already. His 200 free is where the biggest improvement has come, though – he was 1:38.1 last year at this time and is now 1:35.8. His 19.8/43.2 sprint times should make him a free relay candidate, and that 50 free is probably his best fit as a third NCAA event. He’s got a great breaststroke up and down the pool, with nice timing and a massive breaststroke kick. The 200 IM clearly isn’t his best race, but you do get a glimpse of his breast and free speed in the back half of this race video. Update: here’s a more recent breaststroke race video where you get a good sense of Corbeau’s excellent turns and his ability to turn up the stroke tempo without slipping. He does have one short wall and a long finish in there, so there’s even further room to improve in short course. After struggling for a breaststroker after Will Licon’s graduation, Texas has gone all-in on the discipline the last few years, as Foster and Corbeau with both join rising sophomore Charlie Scheinfeld to turn breaststroke from a weakness to a strength for the Longhorns.
5. Jack Dolan (Previous Rank: #3) – Rockwood Swim Club- Eureka High School – Wildwood, MO **Verbally committed to Arizona State**
Best Times: 50 free – 19.62, 100 free – 43.56, 200 free – 1:34.78, 100 fly – 46.81, 100 back – 47.07, 200 back – 1:42.91
Dolan has the best 50 free in the class, but he’s far from a drop-dead sprinter – in fact, his 200 is top-5 in the class as well. He’s also one of only three boys going sub-47 in the 100 fly in this recruiting class. Dolan didn’t have a lot of drops as a senior, which is why Walker and Corbeau passed him up, but he did make some moderate improvements to his backstrokes and stayed fairly close to his lifetime-bests everywhere else. He’s got a smooth stroke and carries his speed really well into and out of his turns – in this NCSAs swim (against a field of a lot of top-20 recruits), Dolan just dominates the details, especially underwater and into his breakouts.
6. Ross Dant (Previous Rank: #5) – Hickory Foundation YMCA – Newton-Conover High School – Hickory, NC **Verbally committed to NC State**
Best Times: 1650 free – 14:46.20, 1000 free – 8:50.29, 500 free – 4:18.70, 400 IM – 3:46.50, 200 free – 1:37.68, 200 back – 1:44.54
A distance swimmer usually has to be awfully good to make the top 10, and Dant completely fits that bill. He’s far-and-away the best distance swimmer in the class, and he actually comes in with a 2019 NCAA scoring time in the mile, one of just three scoring times in this class across all events. Dant has has solid senior year drops in his distance free, but he’s just starting to figure out the 400 IM, where he dropped from 3:53 to 3:46 as a senior. That seems like a natural third event for him in between the 500 free on day 2 and the mile on day 4. Dant also comes down decently well to the 200 free, and could be a relay candidate there down the road. This kid’s got some serious leg strength. When he went that 14:46 at YNats this spring, he had an absolute powerhouse of a kick behind him the entire way. You never see the white water let up. The other standout skill is how he attacks every single turn. Great milers make you remember that it’s still about speed, even in a traditionally endurance-heavy event, and Dant epitomizes that, even with a stroke that’s almost a catch-up drill in how tall he stays out front. He seems like a great fit for an NC State program that visibly thrives on racing.
7. Jack Wright (Previous Rank: #7) – Allegheny North Swim Club – North Allegheny Senior High School – Wexford, PA **Verbally committed to Virginia**
Best Times: 200 free – 1:34.77, 100 free – 43.56, 50 free – 20.22, 100 fly – 48.87
Wright is yet another relay-distance free standout with some of the best times in the class in the 100 and 200 frees. He went backwards a few tenths in both as a senior (43.8/1:35.0), but even those times are good enough to justify this ranking. He’s hit some nice relay splits on strong North Allegheny teams – here’s a 2018 relay in which he splits 43.2 – which is a good sign considering a lot of his rank is based on relay value. He’s got a great start, both flying and flat start, and very good arm tempo (he’s up in lane 6 here, in the black cap). Wright doesn’t bring much else to the table in terms of other events, but he’ll have plenty opportunities to contribute between his three freestyle races. UVA will have to try to reverse the trend and get Wright back to dropping time, but he’s a great relay prospect, and he and Walker could be the bookends of some nasty Cavalier relays for the forseeable future.
8. Noah Bowers (Previous Rank: #12) – Virginia Gators – Patrick Henry High School – Roanoke, VA **Verbally committed to NC State**
Best Times: 200 IM – 1:45.58, 200 fly – 1:44.02, 100 fly – 47.66, 200 back – 1:44.46, 100 back – 47.94, 200 free – 1:35.42, 100 free – 43.89, 50 free – 20.06
Bowers is the polar opposite of Wright, less specialized but with a ton of versatility to go along with his great 50/100/200 free speed. That 1:45.5 IM is the most interesting – he’s dropped more than a full second there since our rankings last year, and dropped almost four seconds the year before that. Bowers obviously has great fly and back speed across both the 100- and 200-yard distances. But his sprint freestyles have come around the most: at this point last year, he was just 20.4/44.6/1:39.4. He’s made big drops in all three, highlighted by a four-second drop in the 200 free that makes him a potential four-to-five-relay threat further on in his college career. Race video of Bowers is tough to come by. This relay from the Virginia high school state meet does catch his 20.0 freestyle – he’s leading off at the very top (not the circled relay), and rockets off the blocks fast enough to stay completely out of the camera frame until the turn. Also, Bowers’ splitting in that lifetime-best 100 fly (21.9/25.6) suggests two things: he’s got great raw speed and he probably has a better 100 fly time in him once he balances out his pacing a bit.
9. Peter Larson (Previous Rank: N/A) – Edina Swim Club – Edina High School – Bloomington, MN **Verbally committed to Texas**
Best Times: 200 back – 1:41.60, 100 back – 47.85, 200 free – 1:35.32, 100 free – 43.36, 50 free – 19.97
Larson is our highest riser in this class, moving from last year’s honorable mentions into the top 10. He’s the best 200 backstroker in the class, having dropped from 1:43.5 to 1:41.6 in that event, and he’s also outstanding (1:59) in long course. Larson spent his high school season focusing in on the sprint freestyles, and that’s upped his relay value significantly. He’s among the best 100 freestylers in the class, with a great 50 and a strong 200 free alongside it. And it’s probably fair to say he projects better as a backstroker who only crosses over into freestyle for relays. Backstroke definitely pops better in race videos – his backstroke is smooth and polished, and he gets into his turns really aggressively. His freestyle, on the other hand, has a little gallop to it, which isn’t bad, but it occasionally starts to look a little short at the top. Still, Larson is improving in a hurry, and if his sprint free improvements can transfer to backstroke and get him closer to 45/46 in the 100, he could have a huge impact as a rookie. He’s part of a great Texas class that features two breaststrokers and two backstrokers out of our top 10 recruits.
10. Ethan Harder (Previous Rank: #11) – Billings Aquatic Club – Billings Senior High School – Billings, MT **Verbally committed to Texas**
Best Times: 200 back – 1:41.94, 100 back – 47.48, 200 fly – 1:43.51, 100 fly – 48.22, 200 IM – 1:46.58, 400 IM – 3:51.09
Montana is on a bit of a run this year, with top-10 recruits in both genders. Like Katharine Berkoff, Harder is an outstanding backstroker. He specializes across 200 yards – his 200 back is near the top of the class, and his 200 fly has dropped three seconds since last year. He’s also got a solid 200 IM. One thing that jumps off the screen on film is his back-half ability. He makes a great charge on #9 Larson late in the Winter Juniors 200 back we linked above, staying patient and disciplined the whole way. He’s got nice hand drive and efficient underwaters, even if his feet could come around a little quicker on his turns. Harder’s 100 back stalled a little and only cut a tenth during his senior year, but he’s a good fit at Texas, which developed great speed for the more 200-oriented Austin Katz too – he was 47.0 coming into college and went 44.9 as a freshman.
11. AJ Pouch (Previous Rank: #10) – Team Rebel Aquatics – Boulder City High School – Henderson, NV **Verbally committed to Virginia Tech**
Best Times: 200 breast – 1:55.04, 100 breast – 53.63, 200 IM – 1:49.93
A very good breaststroker, Pouch is just a tick behind the Foster/Corbeau tier for two-event breaststroke speed. He’s had a good senior year, coming down from 54.8/1:56.4 to 53.6/1:55.0. He’s also a monster in the long course pool, with bests of 1:02 and 2:11. He’s got awesome turns, staying low and not pulling himself up at the wall or even into the wall. He sets up his body position well to get a lot of power out of his very good breaststroke kick, even if he spins just a tick with his arms out front. His weakness is underwater pullouts, which is on full display in this 100 breast – but it’s also an area that could improve with strength and technique gains at the college level.
12. Jason Louser (Previous Rank: #13) – Long Island Aquatic Club – Shoreham Wading River High School – Shoreham, NY **Verbally committed to Cal**
Best Times: 400 IM – 3:45.87, 200 IM – 1:46.00, 100 breast – 53.94, 200 breast – 1:57.04, 500 free – 4:23.32
Louser was our fast riser the last time around, having cut 10 seconds off his 400 IM as a junior. We mentioned at the time that he needed to come around in other events to justify that ranking, but his improvement curve suggested that was likely – and it sure was. Louser cut another two seconds in his 400 IM, two more in his 200 IM, two in his 200 breast and about one in his 100 breast. Now the intriguing drop is in the 500, where Louser went from 4:30 to 4:23 in his senior year. He’s a huge, lanky swimmer whose body type might be better suited for the mid-distances. His breaststroke is outstanding, and the way he brings home this 400 IM (not even his lifetime-best) has to have Cal coach Dave Durden thinking Louser could be a beast through a 500 free/400 IM/200 breast combination. Louser also had a heck of a summer in long course, dropping from 4:27 to 4:18 in the 400 meter IM.
13. Liam Bell (Previous Rank: N/A) – US Aquatics Club – Druid Hills School – Atlanta, GA **Verbally committed to Alabama**
Best Times: 100 breast 52.21, 200 breast – 1:57.30, 50 free – 20.29, 100 free – 44.18, 200 free – 1:39.73, 200 IM – 1:48.85
Bell joins Foster (400 IM) and Dant (1650 free) as the only swimmers in this class with 2019 NCAA scoring times – Bell’s 52.21 100 breast would have been 14th last year. It also comes with a year of massive drops: he was 55.1 and 2:02 in the breaststrokes at this time last year, and wasn’t even sniffing our top 20 ranks. Now, he’s got a real argument for top 10, especially if those times keep coming down. He hasn’t developed great 200 breast range yet, but he’s on his way with that five-second drop. Bell also has potential in the sprint frees – his 100 free cut from 48.0 last year to 44.1, and he’s now on the cusp of challenging the best in the class in the 50 and 100 frees as well. For a 100-specialist, he’s a real closer: he swims away from the field big-time in the back-half of this long course 100 breast.
14. Hunter Tapp (Previous Rank: N/A) – Lakeside Swim Team – Trinity High School – Louisville, KY **Verbally committed to NC State**
Best Times: 100 free – 43.16, 200 free – 1:36.10, 50 free – 19.93, 100 fly – 48.88, 100 back – 48.87
The best 100 freestyler in a deep 100 free class, Tapp has developed nice range on both sides of it for relay purposes. He’s on a great trajectory, coming down from 20.4/43.9/1:36.1 as of last year, when he made our honorable mentions. The only recent race video we could find of his has a puzzling amount of slow-motion to it, but that does give a unique look at his technique. Tapp jumps forward well on his breakouts and attacks his turns nicely. Bear in mind that he went almost a full second faster than this at the Kentucky high school state meet this spring. Tapp is a good fit with NC State, which has had consistent success putting together sprint free relays and developing sprinters.
15. Noah Henderson (Previous Rank: #14) – Star Aquatics – Western Alamance High School – Gibsonville, NC **Verbally committed to NC State**
Best Times: 100 fly – 46.52, 200 fly – 1:45.47, 50 free – 19.90, 100 free – 44.17, 200 free – 1:36.95
Henderson is a speed demon in short-yardage fly and free. His 100 fly is second in the class, behind only Burns. And Henderson has a habit of going out like a rocket. In this race video, he looks awesome at the 50 turn, but clearly falls off and loses his legs by the last underwater. In another try three months later though (unfortunately, a swim without video we could dig up), Henderson managed to go out a half-second faster and come home a half-second faster to book. That evolution of pacing is a great sign for a guy who can sprint with the best of them. Henderson has had good improvements across the board since last year – most notable is probably a 2.2-second cut in the 200 free, which really launches his relay value across all three freestyle distances.
16. Jonah Cooper (Previous Rank: #15) – Ruby Hill Aquatics – Foothill High School – Pleasanton, CA **Verbally committed to Ohio State**
Best Times: 100 back – 46.33, 200 back – 1:44.20, 50 free – 20.22, 100 free – 44.38, 200 free – 1:36.60
We’re now starting to get into a class of guys who have one standout event that pops way more than the rest of their resume. In a lot of cases, that means similar improvements are coming across the board, but that’s not always the case – sometimes it’s the start of specialization. Cooper has the best 100 back in the class among all athletes except Burns. He dropped six tenths of a second there over his senior year, and is just tenths from NCAA invite status. His 200 doesn’t quite carry the same force, though it’s dropped 1.3 seconds since last year. Cooper also brings good sprint freestyle ability; the 50 free seems like a natural third event for him. This race video is two years old at this point, but Cooper has an absolutely brilliant final turn and underwater, and goes right by one Luca Urlando for the comeback win.
17. Will Myhre (Previous Rank: #20) – St. Charles Swim Team – St. Charles North High School – St. Charles, IL **Verbally committed to Iowa**
Best Times: 100 breast – 52.59, 200 breast – 1:57.37, 50 free – 20.21, 100 free – 44.26, 100 fly – 47.99
Another 100-stroke standout, Myhre is within a tenth of NCAA invite status in the 100 breast. He’s a big, strong prospect who moves a lot of water with his breaststroke. This race is all power, and he shows a remarkable amount of polish with his wall timing and turns, too. Myhre’s times are basically comparable to Bell – he doesn’t have that same crazy improvement curve, but has come down from 54.1/1:59.7 at this time last year. Myhre will have to improve his 200 a little to have a lot of NCAA impact, but his sprint speed gives him some relay cred already. A 47.9 in the 100 fly is a really nice bonus, even if it doesn’t coexist well with the 100 breast in the NCAA lineup. 50 free seems a safe bet for his third event, and he’s got the size and strength to be very good there.
18. Dillon Downing (Previous Rank: N/A) – SwimAtlanta – Blessed Trinity Catholic High School – Alpharetta, GA **Verbally committed to Georgia**
Best Times: 50 free – 19.68, 100 free – 43.63, 200 free – 1:38.73
In a class of freestylers with pretty good range, Downing is clearly more of a drop-dead sprint type. There are a number of other freestylers outside our top 20 with better range across all three relay distances, but we’ll go with Downing here because you just can’t coach raw speed – and he’s got it. Downing is ticks away from having the best 50 free in the class, and is only three tenths from NCAA invite range in that race. He’s not much of an underwater kicker and is usually the first one up and swimming, but he’s got an explosive start and pretty unbelievable arm tempo (this is an older race, and this is a more recent one). He’s an interesting fit for Georgia, though he fits a major need – the Bulldogs have really struggled for sprint freestylers on the men’s side, and Downing gives them a chance to have a great one. He’s also seen huge improvements in his endurance: he dropped from 45.8 to 43.6 in the 100 as a senior, and – make sure you’re sitting down for this one – from 1:53 to 1:38 in the 200 free.
19. Max Saunders (Previous Rank: N/A) – Santa Clara Swim Club – Bellarmine Prep High School – Los Gatos, CA **Verbally committed to USC**
Best Times: 200 free – 1:35.03, 100 free – 43.52, 50 free – 20.36
Pretty much the exact opposite of Downing here: Saunders is a 200/100 specialist who can come down decently well to the 50. His 200 has been on fire over his senior year, dropping more than five seconds from his previous best of 1:40. Saunders has long arms that don’t seem to affect his ability to turn his stroke over – this is a 44.0 leadoff leg of a relay, with Saunders in the white cap in lane 6. He swims very tall – even towards the end of this 200 free when many swimmers would start to shorten up. He back-halfs the heck out of that race, too, in a pretty impressive showing of endurance.
20. Sean Conway (Previous Rank: #8) – Nation’s Capital Swim Club – Loudoun Valley High School – Round Hill, VA **Verbally committed to Virginia**
Best Times: 200 IM – 1:45.77, 400 IM – 3:47.38, 200 back – 1:43.54, 100 back – 48.41, 100 breast – 55.13, 200 free – 1:37.11, 100 free – 44.29, 50 free – 20.77, 500 free – 4:26.80
Conway is a really good IMer who is dropping well. He’s got three natural events in the NCAA format: 200 IM, 400 IM and 200 back, and he’s a standout in all three. The way IMers tend to make leaps at the college level, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Conway eventually outperforming a lot of the guys ranked ahead of him – he just may need time to get there, as NCAA scoring in the IMs (1:43.0/3:42.7 last year) has gotten borderline absurd. Conway dropped about a second in his 200 IM and about two in his 400 IM since last year’s rankings. His aggressiveness and stroke rate in a 200 IM has to be encouraging: swimming the 200 IM like a sprint is really key to succeeding at the college level. Conway has a huge frame and extremely long arms, and his NCAA ceiling is very, very high – the only question is how quickly he’ll reach it.
Paring the list down to 20 always feels like pulling teeth. This isn’t an exhaustive list of others we considered, but the top few left off the list who made the decisions on 18-20 very difficult.
Cason Wilburn (Previous Rank: N/A) – East Coast Aquatic Team – First Colonial High School – Chesapeake, VA **Verbally committed to Notre Dame**
Best Times: 200 free – 1:35.93, 100 free – 43.36, 50 free – 20.18, 500 free – 4:23.46, 1000 free – 9:29.23, 1650 free – 15:35.61, 100 fly – 47.59, 200 IM – 1:47.90
Wilburn is a big, strong swimmer out of Virginia who has really impressive range. He’s probably best suited to the 50/100/200 at this point, but he’s awfully good in the 500 and up to the mile as well. (His biggest senior year drops have come there: from 4:30 and 15:44 to 4:23 and 15:35). Either way, he’s going to be a great relay prospect, and should find three good events for collegiate postseason swimming.
Shane Blinkman (Previous Rank: #17) – St. Croix Swim Club – Hudson High School – Hudson, WI **Verbally committed to Stanford**
Best Times: 200 IM – 1:45.71, 100 breast – 53.75, 200 breast – 2:00.92, 200 back – 1:45.31, 200 free – 1:38.77
Blinkman is a great IM/breaststroke hybrid, who is pretty good across a lot of 200-yard events. It’s hard to undervalue a 1:45 IM out of high school, though he’ll still need some improvements to hit NCAA scoring levels. Blinkman had a marginal drop in his IM as a senior, but a good drop of 1.2 seconds in his 100 breast.
Luke Thornbrue (Previous Rank: N/A) – Hillsboro HEAT Swim Team – Century High School – Hillsboro, OR **Verbally committed to Notre Dame**
Best Times: 1650 free – 15:11.07, 1000 free – 9:00.22, 500 free – 4:23.43, 200 free – 1:35.58, 100 free – 45.11, 50 free – 20.99
There are a handful of distance guys just on the outside of our list. Most of them could make a case for an honorable mention, if we didn’t already have this many guys in this category. Thornbrue stands out for his great 1000, good mile and very strong 200 free. The 500 is clearly the odd event out. Thornbrue hit most of these lifetime-bests at Sectionals in March, and the 500 free came pretty late in the meet, towards the end of a punishing lineup. Based on his drops in the 200 and 1000 earlier in the meet, it’s fair to speculate that Thornbrue could bring his 500 into better line with those two if he swam it fresh, or even in an NCAA-like setting where he’d only have one event each day.
Zach Hils (Previous Rank: N/A) – Lexington Dolphins – Lexington Catholic High School – Lexington, KY **Verbally committed to Georgia**
Best Times: 200 IM – 1:46.03, 100 back – 47.69, 200 back – 1:44.54, 200 free – 1:36.16, 100 free – 44.75, 50 free – 20.50
Hils is a very good 200 IMer who is dropping a lot of time in his backstrokes. Hils went from 48.8/1:46.7 in back at this time last year to 47.6/1:44.5 at NCSAs in March. He’s also got good relay-distance freestyles that are dropping well. He’s a great pickup for an IM powerhouse like Georgia, and he’ll probably get opportunities on free relays, too.
River Wright (Previous Rank: N/A) – Bluefish Swim Club – Attleboro High School – Attleboro, MA **Verbally committed to Michigan**
Best Times: 200 IM – 1:47.12, 100 fly – 47.05, 100 back – 47.68, 100 breast 55.39, 100 free – 44.22, 50 free – 20.34, 200 free – 1:37.63
If there was a competition for best time across 100s of all four strokes, Wright would be a blue-chipper. That’s an intriguing portfolio, with 47s in fly and back, a 55-low breaststroke and a 44-low freestyle. Unfortunately, Wright isn’t yet knocking on the door of NCAA scoring in any of the four, and he hasn’t put it all together into a standout IM swim yet (though 1:47 out of high school is still very solid). The pieces are clearly there though – don’t be surprised if Wright is a fast riser among this class at some point in his college career.
Derek Maas (Previous Rank: N/A) – West Ottowa Swim Club – West Ottowa High School – Holland, MI **Verbally committed to Alabama**
Best Times: 200 IM – 1:46.70, 100 breast – 54.29, 200 breast – 1:56.46
Catching a theme here? Feels like there are a bunch of good IMers in this class who just don’t yet have enough standout events to crack the top 20. We include Maas here because he’s improving so fast: he dropped from 1:50 to 1:46 in the IM and 2:00 to 1:56 in the 200 breast since last spring. Those are big-time drops. He also cut about two seconds in the 100 breast since last year’s rankings, so he definitely qualifies as a potential diamond in the rough from a recruiting standpoint.
Feeling nostalgic? Here’s a look back at our previous recruiting class rankings, plus our retrospective classes once they’ve wrapped up four NCAA seasons:
|High School Class of 2021||Way Too Early Ranks As Sophomores|
|High School Class of 2020||Way Too Early Ranks As Sophomores||Ranks as Juniors|
|High School Class of 2019||Ranks as Juniors||Re-Rank As Seniors|
|High School Class of 2018||Ranks as Juniors||Re-Rank As Seniors|
|High School Class of 2017||Ranks as Juniors|
|High School Class of 2016||Ranks as Juniors|
|High School Class of 2015||Ranks as Juniors||Post-college retrospective|
|High School Class of 2014||Ranks as Juniors||Post-college retrospective|
|High School Class of 2013||Ranks as Juniors||Post-college retrospective|