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:
2020 Addendum: as we’ve been noting with all our recruit rankings this year, meet cancellations due to the coronavirus pandemic are throwing a major wrench into times and time drops this season. We’re trying to note when we find swimmers who typically rested for a spring meet (NCSAs, YNats, etc.), or who had their high school seasons canceled (most notably California). But as a whole, we’re relying somewhat less on “improvement curves” this year, and perhaps a little more on long course drops from last summer. These rankings are only a snapshot in time, though, so we won’t do a lot of projecting of who would have dropped time, rather relying on times already swum, whether in short course or long course.
- Excellent class, both in top-end talent and depth
- One of the best IM groups we’ve ever ranked
- Lots of high-end depth in freestyle at all distances
- A little weaker in breaststroke, but plenty deep
- A lot of one-distance standouts still developing
Though they’re not the all-timer type of class that their women’s counterparts are, this Class of 2020 is a really strong group for NCAA impact. There’s a good handful of elite types at the top, and lots of depth across the board – plenty of schools are going to be thrilled with their recruiting classes within this field.
The strength of the group is IMs, led by #1-ranked Carson Foster, the top 200 and 400 IMer we’ve ranked, going back to the class of 2013. And there’s lots of other IM types behind him. Many, though, are more one-distance IMers who either branch into other strokes or just haven’t brought their other IM race up to the same level.
This is a great class in freestyle. We have a bunch of rangy freestylers across distances in our top 20, and those events were probably the hardest to differentiate the top 20 swimmers from those just outside the list. Distance swimmers seemed to rise especially high as seniors, and that group is extremely deep, perhaps foreshadowing a big uptick in NCAA scoring times over the next few years.
If there’s a weakness, it’s breaststroke. There’s no Reece Whitley/Max McHugh type, and only a handful of guys in the 52s. Even there, though, this class isn’t bad – there’s solid developmental depth and a whole bunch of guys dropping well.
Further down the depth chart in most disciplines, we tend to see a lot of one-distance standouts. A bunch of 47-second backstrokers, for example, who don’t have a comparable 200 yet. That’s true in fly, breast, and IM, and probably speaks to this class perhaps missing chances to swim more events tapered this year based on meet cancellations. Expect a good number of those one-event standouts to develop a more well-rounded resume within the next year.
|Top Times in the Class of 2020|
|50 Free||Matt Brownstead||19.24|
|100 Free||Adam Chaney||43.00|
|200 Free||Carson Foster||1:32.99|
|500 Free||Jake Magahey||4:12.72|
|1000 Free**||Ethan Heasley||8:50.51|
|1650 Free||David Johnston||14:51.42|
|100 Back||Luca Urlando||45.66|
|200 Back||Carson Foster||1:40.07|
|100 Breast||Forrest Frazier||52.51|
|200 Breast||Ben Dillard||1:54.74|
|100 Fly||Ethan Hu||45.61|
|200 Fly||Luca Urlando||1:40.91|
|200 IM||Carson Foster||1:42.43|
|400 IM||Carson Foster||3:38.65|
**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 2020
*We’re noting where athletes have publicly verbally committed. While most of these athletes have signed NLIs with their schools, we can’t always verify who has physically signed on the dotted line and who hasn’t – for that reason, the verbiage below is still “verbally committed,” as it was in our junior ranks last year.
1. Carson Foster (Previous Rank: #1) – Mason Manta Rays – Sycamore High School – Cincinnati, OH **Verbally committed to Texas**
Best Times: 400 IM – 3:38.65, 200 IM – 1:42.43, 200 back – 1:40.07, 100 back – 46.28, 200 free – 1:32.99, 100 free – 43.61, 50 free – 20.11, 200 fly – 1:44.11, 200 breast – 1:56.53, 100 breast – 53.31, 500 free – 4:20.21
By our junior ranks, it felt like Urlando was closing in on the top spot, but Foster had two huge IM performances at Winter Juniors that keep him firmly in the #1 position. Foster went from already-elite 1:42.5/3:40.8 to 1:42.4/3:38.6 in the IMs, all while clearly putting more of his focus on long course over the past year. Foster is the best IM prospect we’ve ranked since Andrew Seliskar (1:42.8/3:37.5 as a senior), and has extreme versatility across strokes that makes him a relay contributor even with his best events falling outside the relay distances. Here’s Foster’s big 400 IM drop from Winter Juniors (lane 4, white cap). He definitely looks the part of a big-time Division I swimmer – powerful and efficient with long strokes that chew up the short course pool in a hurry. Back and free definitely pop the most, and you should see Foster be a big 800 free relay contributor early in his career, even at 200-free-loaded Texas.
2. Luca Urlando (Previous Rank: #2) – DART Swimming – CK McClatchy High School – Sacramento, CA **Verbally committed to Georgia**
Best Times: 200 fly – 1:40.91, 100 fly – 45.62, 200 IM – 1:42.99, 100 back – 45.66, 200 back – 1:42.11, 200 free – 1:34.38, 100 free – 43.23, 50 free – 19.88, 400 IM – 3:49.58
Another top-notch swimmer with a strong international resume, Urlando is a perfect fit for Georgia. His 200 fly is well ahead of any recruit we’ve ever ranked, and would have made the NCAA’s A final in 2019. Urlando has several options for an NCAA lineup. He could pair his class-best 45.6 back and 45.6 fly for a day 3 combo, or focus in on butterfly with a 200 IM on day 2. He’s a slightly better sprinter than Foster is, so his avenue for relay impact might be a little broader. Urlando didn’t have any short course time drops as a senior, but that’s mostly because he focused on long course U.S. Open instead of short course Winter Juniors, and had his short course high school season wiped out by the coronavirus pandemic. Here’s his career-best 200 fly, almost a year-and-a-half old now. (Lane 4, blue cap). Urlando is really good in some key details – he bounces off the walls extremely well and does a nice job underwater. A few of his walls are long here, and there’s some polishing to do on details. But Urlando is clearly making progress – look at this long course swim from about six months later: Urlando appears to be jumping forward with his arm catch noticeably better here, and the underwater angles show how well Urlando does with body position, pressing down on the shoulders and popping his hips all the way back to the surface even late in a 200 fly.
3. Jake Magahey (Previous Rank: #5) – Swim Atlanta – Mill Creek High School – Dacula, GA **Verbally committed to Georgia**
Best Times: 500 free – 4:12.72, 200 free – 1:33.32, 1000 free – 8:55.33, 1650 free – 14:51.54, 100 free – 43.12, 50 free – 19.95, 400 IM – 3:45.37, 200 back – 1:42.39, 100 back – 47.93, 100 fly – 47.98
Magahey has had the best senior-year drops of the top three, and he surges back into the top 3 after dropping two spots as a junior. Magahey has incredible range across the freestyles – his strong relay splits in the sprints have finally translated to individual times, with 19.9 and 43.1 on record to go with his NCAA A final-level 500 and near-NCAA-scoring 200. Finding an NCAA scoring-level 500 freestyler out of high school is extremely rare – we tend to see much more development in that event at the college level. Magahey’s 4:12 stands up extremely well compared to senior-year times from the top recruits we’ve ever ranked: Townley Haas (4:14.1), Grant Shoults (4:12.8), Sean Grieshop (4:15.5), and Drew Kibler (4:14.4). Magahey is also tenths away from the class’s best mile. Interestingly, for a Georgia program that has struggled for sprint freestylers, they should get a huge boost to their relays without even recruiting a top sprinter, because Urlando and Magahey are so good across the board. Here’s Magahey (lane 4, blue cap) smashing that 500 free swim. It’s pretty impressive how well Magahey stretches out his walls, and it just wears down another member of our top 10 who is challenging him from lane 5. Magahey builds in his flutter kick nicely, but can probably improve by using that kick more earlier in the race.
4. Wyatt Davis (Previous Rank: #12) – Carmel Swim Club – Carmel High School – Carmel, IN **Verbally committed to Michigan**
Best Times: 200 back – 1:40.85, 100 back – 45.80, 200 free – 1:33.68, 200 IM – 1:44.17, 100 free – 45.57, 50 free – 20.73
Davis rockets up our board with arguably the best set of time drops of any senior in this class. The Carmel product is challenging Foster for the top 200 back in the class, with a time that would have scored at NCAAs in 2019. Davis is also a rare 45-second backstroker out of high school and only a tick behind Urlando for the top time in the class. Between the 100 back and a 1:33 200 free, Davis is going to have the potential for instant relay impact, especially if he keep dropping time, as he did from 46.6/1:43.8 back and 1:37.0 free in our junior ranks. Davis is also excellent in long course, with 54.1 and 1:58.1 backstroke times and a gold medal from 2019 World Juniors. Here’s Davis in lane 3 (black cap) beating #1 Foster head-to-head at Winter Juniors. He’s got an arm-driven backstroke with a catch that’s powerful but also quicker than the rest of the field, allowing him to really turn up his arm tempo without losing water. That bodes very well for his speed down to the 50, where he’s been as fast as 21.1 in high school competition.
5. Destin Lasco (Previous Rank: #3) – PDR Swimming for Success – Mainland Regional High School – Pleasantville, NJ **Verbally committed to Cal**
Best Times: 200 back – 1:40.77, 100 back – 45.93, 200 IM – 1:44.59, 400 IM – 3:48.22, 200 fly – 1:45.42, 200 free – 1:35.17, 100 free – 43.44, 50 free – 20.72, 500 free – 4:23.77
Lasco just about matches Davis in backstroke times – he’s a tenth faster in the 200 and a tenth slower in the 100. A top-5 recruit since his sophomore year, Lasco has great versatility into the IMs as well as the freestyles. Davis’s big 200 free drop is the main reason he ranks a little higher. That’s not to say Lasco had a bad senior year – he cut a full second in his 200 back, and also had a great summer, dropping to 1:49 in the 200-meter free and to 2:01.8 in the 200-meter back. Lasco appeared to turn a focus to long course in the Olympic year, swimming U.S. Open over Winter Juniors. Lasco has really long arms, and his reach stands out on race video. He doesn’t have to take many strokes to get from one wall to the other, and he looks like the type of swimmer who could really excel over the 200-yard distance.
6. Matt Brownstead (Previous Rank: #6) – Nittany Lion Aquatic Club – State College Area High School – Port Matilda, PA **Verbally committed to Virginia**
Best Times: 50 free – 19.24, 100 free – 43.29, 200 free – 1:36.15, 100 fly – 47.87
Where the entire top 5 are probably best at 200 yards or above, Brownstead is a true sprinter. The Pennsylvania standout crushed a big-league 19.24 at his high school state meet this spring, breaking a national high school record held by superstar Caeleb Dressel. Brownstead also split 18.6, and would be a plug-and-play addition for almost any team in the nation in the 200 free relay. He’s got a big frame and a lot of strength and power – you can see how well he carries the water while turning up his tempo in that 19.2 race video here. A 43.2 100 free is among the best in the class, so there’s no real concerns about Brownstead building his speed upwards. He actually hit that time in prelims at the PIAA state meet, and the finals session was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, so there’s a good chance Brownstead could have challenged the 43.0-barrier at night. He doesn’t yet have a standout third event, but he should be able to develop a solid 200 free or 100 fly over his college career and will be plenty busy on relay duty.
7. Adam Chaney (Previous Rank: #4) – Mason Manta Rays – Bishop Fenwick High School – Mason, OH **Verbally committed to Florida**
Best Times: 50 free – 19.62, 100 free – 43.00, 200 free – 1:35.99, 100 back – 47.10
Chaney was previously the top sprinter in the class, and there’s still an argument for him over Brownstead. Chaney didn’t drop much in short course as a senior, but did have good long course drops and has superior long course times to Brownstead in the 50 free (22.4 to 22.7) and 100 free (49.2 to 49.9). Chaney won individual bronze at 2019 World Juniors and was another one who seemed to put most of his focus on long course over the past year. Here’s his long course 100 free from World Juniors (lane 6, black cap). There’s a little bit of a bounce in his stroke as he breathes, but it mostly goes away when he’s not breathing in a 50 (lane 6). Cleaning that up is probably the gameplan for extending his speed up to the 100. Chaney is also a solid backstroker, which could turn out to be his third event at the NCAA level.
8. Ethan Hu (Previous Rank: #11) – Peak Swimming – Harker School – Cupertino, CA **Verbally committed to Stanford**
Best Times: 100 fly – 45.61, 200 fly – 1:43.60, 200 IM – 1:44.62, 50 free – 20.06, 100 free – 44.85
Hu is a top-notch butterflyer who had great senior-year drops. His 200 fly cut about a second and a half from 1:45.1, and his 100 fly went from 46.2 to 45.6 – an NCAA scoring time in 2019. That Winter Juniors drop came after a summer where Hu went 53.1 in the long course fly and really surged towards the front of the class, even with Urlando setting ridiculous standards in butterfly. Here’s Hu (lane 4, white cap) in a battle with #1-ranked junior Aiden Hayes. Hu’s turns and underwaters are at a whole different level, even compared to this really-good field. There’s a lot of polish to his race, with great timing into every wall and great use of his late-race kickouts. A 1:44.6 IM is a great third event that should be able to develop over time.
9. Jake Mitchell (Previous Rank: #8) – Carmel Swim Club – Carmel High School – Carmel, IN **Verbally committed to Michigan**
Best Times: 500 free – 4:14.68, 200 free – 1:34.05, 1650 free – 14:57.92, 100 free – 44.04, 50 free – 20.69
A major long course standout from last summer, Mitchell really hits that long-range freestyle category like Magahey does. You can look at some of the historic comparisons in Magahey’s section to see just how great a 4:14 500 free out of high school is – that’s a few tenths off of NCAA scoring in an event where we generally see a lot of improvement at the college level. Mitchell has a great 200 free that should contribute to 800 free relays early on, and he’s had massive distance free drops as a senior: 12 seconds in his mile and two in the 500. After last summer, Mitchell is way ahead of Magahey in long course (15:11/7:54/3:47.9 to 15:24/8:01/3:50.7) and could easily turn out to be the top distance man in the class. Here’s Mitchell’s leg of the U.S. 4×200 free relay at World Juniors (lane 4, black cap), faster (1:47.0) than teammates Magahey (1:48.1 leadoff) and Urlando (1:47.1). Mitchell has awesome distance per stroke and builds his legs in really well in the second half.
10. Coby Carrozza (Previous Rank: #9) – Longhorn Aquatics – St. Stephen’s Episcopal High School – Austin, TX **Verbally committed to Texas**
Best Times: 500 free – 4:14.95, 200 free – 1:34.37, 200 fly – 1:44.28, 100 free – 43.57, 50 free – 20.58, 200 IM – 1:47.55, 400 IM – 3:49.90
Carrozza adds to the mid-distance depth in this class, with a drop of his own from 4:16.9 to 4:14.9 in the 500 free as a senior. He swims down to 1:34.3 in the 200 and has nice speed through the 50 and 100 to provide some potential future relay impact there. His big drops as a senior, though, have come in the IMs, from 1:49.3/3:55 to 1:47.5/3:49.9, and you can’t help but wonder if the 400 IM may turn out to be his best event. Here’s a race video (title is mislabeled, but it’s Carrozza in lane 4 in the white cap) of a race that really tested Carrozza’s patience. He keeps his tempo very relaxed early, even as fellow ranked recruit Ethan Heasley jumps out on him early, but it’s Carrozza’s strong, steady flutter kick that wins the day as he ups his arm tempo through the back half.
11. Luke Miller (Previous Rank: #18) – Elevation Athletics – Legacy High School – Broomfield, CO **Verbally committed to NC State**
Best Times: 200 free – 1:33.41, 100 free – 43.58, 50 free – 20.08, 200 fly – 1:46.58, 100 fly – 47.10
Miller’s freestyles have really come around as a senior, from 20.9/44.5/1:35.8 as a junior to 20.0/43.5/1:33.4 as a senior. That’s a big-time step that should put him in line for an NCAA invite as a freshman, plus solid potential to jump onto a scoring 800 free relay. Watch lane 4, blue cap here for Miller’s impressive underwaters and and outstanding distance per stroke. Miller has a pronounced gallop to his stroke without bouncing up and down like most swimmers do when they try to gallop. You can see the raw potential in Miller – he’s been a fast riser in every year of these ranks – when we first ranked the class, he was above 1:40 and 22 in freestyle. That’s an incredible trajectory, and the ceiling is extraordinarily high for Miller.
12. Ethan Heasley (Previous Rank: #10) – Hillsboro Heat Swim Team– Faith Bible High School – Hillsboro, OR **Verbally committed to Texas**
Best Times: 400 IM – 3:44.25, 1650 free – 15:03.24, 1000 free – 8:50.51, 500 free – 4:17.57, 200 free – 1:38.19, 200 IM – 1:47.86
Heasley could project in a number of different spots. He’s got the class’s best 1000 free – a time that would have ranked #2 in the nation last year in dual meet season – but his 3:44 400 IM is probably the highlight. 400 IM and 1650 free would go nicely as an NCAA combo, and then it’s just whether Heasley adds a 200 IM or 500 free on day 1, or pairs the mile with a 200 of a non-free stroke. While Heasley didn’t drop much anywhere as a senior, he went 53.7 and 2:01.5 in long course butterfly, so the 200 fly seems like an event with some upside for him in short course. This isn’t a best time for Heasley (lane 4, black cap), but is a recent swim and not far off his best. The butterfly looks really efficient and his kick is powerful without expending too much energy. The field charges on breaststroke, which is probably the best place for Heasley to cut time in this 400 IM at the college level.
13. Ben Dillard (Previous Rank: HM) – Sierra Marlins – Oak Ridge High School – Folsom, CA **Verbally committed to USC**
Best Times: 100 breast – 52.74, 200 breast – 1:54.74, 200 IM – 1:46.10, 200 free – 1:37.22, 100 free – 45.15, 50 free – 20.87
In a class with multiple 45-second guys in fly and back, the breaststrokers get pushed back a little, even if 52.7/1:54.7 is a very solid high school combo. Both are within a second of NCAA invite level in 2020. Better yet, Dillard dropped more than a second in both since his junior year – in fact, he was just 53.9/1:56.2 when we ranked this class previously. Five days after our ranks, he dropped 1.2 seconds off the 100 at California’s high school state meet. Dillard also has a very good 200 IM and a 200 free that actually fits in with a lot of the better freestylers in the class, so he’s going to have options for his event lineup. Here’s Dillard’s career-best 100 breast from lane 5 in the dark green cap. Dillard is one of those breaststrokers who really maximizes underwater time and swims the 100 with the patience of a 200. That makes him the class’s best two-distance breaststroker and has also led to some awesome long course times (1:01.9/2:14.2 last summer).
14. Luke Maurer (Previous Rank: #19) – NASA Wildcat Aquatics – Loyola Academy – Wilmette, IL **Verbally committed to Stanford**
Best Times: 200 free – 1:34.49, 100 free – 43.91, 50 free – 20.24, 200 IM – 1:46.97, 500 free – 4:21.05, 200 back – 1:46.62
Yet another great 200 freestyler, Maurer should be a huge recruiting get in the relay-distance freestyles. He was more of a 50/100 guy at this time last year, but a drop from 1:36.3 to 1:34.4 in the 200 free makes that his top event. Meanwhile, his 200 IM has gone from 1:49 to 1:46 – that’s figuring out the 200-yard distance at the right time. Here’s his Illinois state record 200 free (lane 3, black cap). The first thing you’ll notice is Maurer’s giant flutter kick. The big question is whether Maurer will keep extending his range upward (4:21.0 in the 500 ranks pretty highly in this class, too) or focuses on the 200 IM on day 2 of NCAAs.
15. Rick Mihm (Previous Rank: #14) – Allegheny North Swim Club – North Allegheny Senior High School – Wexford, PA **Verbally committed to Stanford**
Best Times: 200 IM – 1:43.98, 100 free – 43.88, 50 free – 20.55, 200 free – 1:36.79, 400 IM – 3:50.59
Mihm is one of the best 200 IMers in this strong IM class, and he’s another guy who had his high school state meet cut in half due to the sudden sweep of coronavirus cancellations. Mihm dropped a full second in his 200 IM (from 1:44.9 to 1:43.9) on a Wednesday, then cruised a 4:30 in the 500 free Thursday morning before the meet was canceled between prelims and finals. There seemed to be a good chance Mihm would challenge his career-best 4:23.4 in that 500 free final. He also split 19.3 on a relay day 1. The 200 IM definitely stands above the rest of Mihm’s events for now, but shows enough versatility that he should develop three good NCAA races. Here’s that 200 IM swim (lane 4, black cap), where Mihm closes like a freight train for the win. For an IMer, he’s definitely a freestyler – there’s definitely some work to be done on his open turns and on his breaststroke, but that just means more time to drop at the college level. Watch his 200 free moving forward, because the way he closed the IM suggests he could be a monster in the 200 free, too.
16. David Johnston (Previous Rank: N/A) – Rockwall Aquatic Center of Excellence – The Covenant School – Dallas, TX **Verbally committed to Texas**
Best Times: 1650 free – 14:51.42, 1000 free – 8:58.35, 500 free – 4:19.07, 200 free – 1:37.63, 400 IM – 3:49.19
One of just two unranked athletes to jump into our top 20, Johnston has jumped to the top of the class with a huge mile drop from 15:28 as a junior to 14:51, which would have easily earned an NCAA invite in 2020. Here’s video of that swim, for those looking to kill 15 minutes scouting high school milers (lane 5, silver cap). Johnston has to show some patience, as the fast-starting Heasley pushes way out front early. But Johnston uses a really steady flutter kick to stay in the race, and when he starts running down Heasley about three minutes into the video, it doesn’t take long for that lead to absolutely evaporate. Johnston has the potential to develop into a solid 500 freestyler or 400 IMer, though he needs some time drops in both of those to hit NCAA scoring. Both are dropping fast, though, so the trajectory is there.
17. Forrest Frazier (Previous Rank: #7) – Eastern Iowa Swim Federation – Iowa City High School – Iowa City High School, IA **Verbally committed to Cal**
Best Times: 100 breast – 52.51, 200 breast – 1:55.33, 200 IM – 1:45.96
Frazier is actually a tick faster than Dillard in the 100 breast and 200 IM, but a bit behind in the 200 breast and without the impact freestyles Dillard has. The only major senior year drop was the IM, but it was a big one, from 1:47.6 to 1:45.9. Frazier has an outstanding 1:02 in the long course 100 breast. Here’s his career-best 100 breast from December of 2018 (lane 4, white cap). Frazier has some of the best underwaters in the field, and a relatively high-tempo stroke, though there’s some up-and-down to it with his head dropping almost straight down at the end of the stroke. That level of strength underwater is a great building block, though.
18. Ethan Dang (Previous Rank: #13) – Bellevue Club Swim Team – Hazen High School – Renton, WA **Committed to Stanford**
Best Times: 100 breast – 52.76, 200 breast – 1:55.26, 50 free – 20.35, 200 IM – 1:48.14
Dang is very comparable to Frazier in both breaststrokes, but also chips in a pretty good 50 free that might up his relay value some down the road. Dang had a decent 100 breaststroke drop as a senior (53.4 to 52.7), but otherwise didn’t take off much time anywhere else. The former age group standout has hit a little bit of a wall in the 200 breast, where his time hasn’t dropped much since our sophomore ranks. When you watch him, though (lane 3, orange cap), Dang has a great technical breaststroke – very smooth with a long glide, and he gets his head down under the water very well with every stroke. He even has the slightest hint of a Molly Hannis-style upkick at the end of his stroke. (Before anyone goes there, that’s completely within the rules of breaststroke, as long as there’s no downward dolphin kick after it). That should be a nice framework to keep dropping as Dang adds strength in college. He also might be the rare breaststroker who chips in on scoring-level free relays at some point, too.
King doesn’t really have a great third event yet, but 19.7 in the 50 free out of high school is too good to ignore. After a breakout junior year (20.5/44.5 to 19.8/43.6), King cooled off a little as a senior, but still had decent time drops in the 50/100 frees in both yards and meters. Here’s his Winter Juniors 50 free (lane 4, orange cap) against #1-ranked junior Aiden Hayes. King is tall with long limbs, and he swims with almost a straight-arm recovery, which turns his arm tempo onto overdrive. He can definitely improve on underwater kicking, but does a nice job with his start and finish.
20. Jonathan Affeld (Previous Rank: N/A) – Alto Swim Club – Henry M Gunn High School – Palo Alto, CA **Verbally committed to Stanford**
Best Times: 200 fly – 1:44.02, 100 fly – 46.90, 200 IM – 1:45.38, 400 IM – 3:49.02, 200 back – 1:46.77, 50 free – 20.91, 100 free – 44.07, 200 free – 1:36.06
There’s really no clarity yet on where Affeld projects in college, but he’s got incredible versatility and could probably contribute in any number of ways. A sub-47 in the 100 fly is great for both individual ability and relay contributions, and Affeld is arguably better up to the 200. He’s got great IMs in both distances, and probably projects as an 800 free relay contributor at some point, too. Here’s a 100 fly (lane 3, black cap) – Affeld has nice discipline in holding his streamlines and underwaters, but you can tell his efficient stroke lacks a little urgency and is better suited to a 200 at this point. Compare that to this 200 IM (lane 4, black cap), where you see how that length translates much better to a 200-or-longer event. Affeld really just has to improve on his breaststroke there to be a very solid collegiate 200 IMer.
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.
Preston Forst (Previous Rank: #16) – Enfinity Aquatic Club – Northern Guilford High School – Greensboro, NC **Verbally committed to Stanford**
Best Times: 200 fly – 1:43.53, 100 fly – 47.40, 50 free – 20.65, 100 free – 44.85, 200 free – 1:37.13, 200 back – 1:46.82
Forst has a nice event mix that crosses over a bunch of NCAA relays. He’s a very solid 100/200 flyer – in fact, his 200 fly is just four tenths off a 2020 NCAA invite time. He’s also got solid speed in the 50/100/200 frees. Forst didn’t drop much in any of those events as a senior in high school, but he did cut decent time in both the 100 and 200 long course butterfly races (54.4/2:00.0) last summer.
Faikish is another one-distance standout in the IMs. 1:44.6 is excellent, and should give Faikish a good base to build out to more NCAA events. Like Brownstead, he had his high school state meet cut in half, which may have robbed him of a lifetime-best 100 back. (He was 48.10 as a junior and 48.4 in prelims as a senior before the meet was truncated).
Arik Katz – Sarasota Tsunami Swim Team – Venice Senior High – Sarasota, FL **Verbally committed to Harvard**
Best Times: 1650 free – 15:01.92, 1000 free – 8:57, 500 free – 4:23.32, 200 free – 1:37.96, 400 IM – 3:53.69
Katz has one of the better 1000 times in this class and should be an outstanding distance prospect. Like so many in this class, he’s got nice range all the way down to 200, though he’ll need to keep dropping to be a true relay factor there. Katz also had some incredible long course drops, and his 15:05/7:57/3:53 in meters put him up there with the best in the class.
Tyler Christianson – Naval Academy Aquatic Club – Saint Peter & Paul High School – Easton, MD **Verbally committed to Notre Dame**
Best Times: 400 IM – 3:46.69, 200 IM – 1:46.56, 200 breast – 1:55.53, 100 breast – 53.86
Christianson is a solid IMer and breaststroker who is dropping time across all four listed events. A 4:25 long course IM is very solid, as is a 2:15.7 breaststroke. Christianson cut about two seconds in his 400 IM as a senior.
Another swimmer where the 400 IM is tough to pass up, but no other swim seems to be quite at that level yet. Conley swam a ton of events at Winter Juniors, which may have held back his times a little, but he hasn’t had a lot of time drops since our rankings last year.
We go through the same song and dance every year with Rose. This year more than ever, his short course times don’t merit inclusion in the top 20. But he’s got great long course production, and the name value that comes along with that. More impressive than the times above are 1:58.9 and 53.9 in long course butterfly and 1:49.2/3:51 in long course freestyle. Time will tell if Rose is a long course-focused swimmer whose short course times will catch up in college, or if he’s a great swimmer who just doesn’t fit the NCAA format as well as sprint types.
BEST OF THE REST
New this year: this isn’t an exhaustive list, but we can rattle off a few of the athletes we studied who wound up just outside the top 20 in each event discipline. For the purposes of space, we won’t include every top event for these athletes, but just a few of their standouts. Each of these athletes is still an extremely high-level recruit:
- Sprint free:
- Bence Szabados (19.9/44.0/1:37.4, 47.3FL) **Verbally committed to Michigan**
- Matthew Jensen (20.5/43.4/1:36.8, 46.5FL) **Verbally committed to Cal**
- Zac van Zandt (20.4/44.0/1:36.8, 53.1BR, 46.6FL) **Verbally committed to Texas**
- Andrew Benson (20.0/44.0/1:36.1, 53.6BR) **Verbally committed to Wisconsin**
- Distance free:
- James Plage (14:57/9:01/4:23.9) **Verbally committed to NC State**
- Tyler Kopp (15:08/9:23/4:21.8/1:38.3, 3:48.8IM) **Verbally committed to Cal**
- Lleyton Plattel (15:03/9:07/4:21.5/1:38.6) **Verbally committed to Arizona State**
- Jude Williams (15:07/9:03/4:21.8/1:37.7) **Verbally committed to Wisconsin**
- Sawyer Grimes (15:05/8:56/4:23.0) **Verbally committed to Minnesota**
- Matthew Tannenberger (4:21.6/1:37.1) **Verbally committed to Texas**
- Michael Bonson (4:22/1:35.8) **Verbally committed to Auburn**
- Liam Smith (4:24/1:35.9) **Verbally committed to Notre Dame**
Feeling nostalgic? Here’s a look back at our recruiting class rankings over the past 7 recruiting classes, plus our retrospective of the first class we ranked after 4 years in the NCAA:
|High School Class of 2022||Way Too Early Ranks As Sophomores|
|High School Class of 2021||Way Too Early Ranks As Sophomores||Ranks as Juniors|
|High School Class of 2020||Way Too Early Ranks As Sophomores||Ranks as Juniors||Re-Rank As Seniors|
|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|