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:
- One of the best distance free classes in recent memory
- Sprint free is deep, but not top-heavy
- Strong and deep butterfly class
- Thin in breaststrokes
- Very good IM times, but not a lot of pure IMers
This class is really built on distance swimmers. In fact, despite the NCAA scoring format undervaluing distance types in our ranks, we have 6, arguably 7 distance swimmers in our top 20. That includes half of our top 6 swimmers. The class is really good at the top, but also really deep, and should make the distance races very competitive for NCAA invites over the next few years.
The sprint free group has the depth, but not the same representation in our top 20. We’ve got a fair amount of 19-second sprinters and 43-second 100 freestylers, but only two true pure sprint freestylers in the top 20.
Butterfly is another strong point of this class, although we’ve been on a run of top flyers in recruiting, from Aiden Hayes in 2021 to Luca Urlando in 2020 to Brendan Burns in 2019. Backstroke is well-represented at the top, but doesn’t have the same kind of depth as fly and free.
If there’s a weakness in this class, it’s breaststroke, where there’s not a lot of true game-changers, and most of the intrigue lies with some late-developing swimmers.
On the flip side, teams will find plenty of strong IM times in this class – just not a ton of two-distance IMers. Most IM-oriented swimmers in this class have a much better 200 or 400, and only time will tell whether they develop into true all-around IMers, or focus on a stroke and cross over to just one IM distance.
|Top Times in the Class of 2022|
|50 Free||Quintin McCarty||19.35|
|100 Free||Quintin McCarty||42.61|
|200 Free||Michael Cotter||1:33.80|
|500 Free||Matthew Chai||4:15.91|
|1000 Free**||Liam Custer||8:51.37|
|1650 Free||Liam Custer||14:37.86|
|100 Back||Nick Simons||46.39|
|200 Back||Nick Simons||1:40.78|
|100 Breast||Kohen Rankin||52.36|
|200 Breast||Zhier Fan||1:52.92|
|100 Fly||Carl Bloebaum||45.68|
|200 Fly||Carl Bloebaum||1:42.94|
|200 IM||Baylor Nelson||1:42.01|
|400 IM||Baylor Nelson||3:41.59|
**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 2022
*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.
- 400 IM: 3:41.59 (best in class)
- 200 IM: 1:42.01 (best in class)
- 200 breast: 1:54.76
- 200 back: 1:41.31
- 200 fly: 1:44.81
- 100 back: 47.91
- 100 fly: 47.48
- 50 free: 19.94
- 100 free: 44.94
- 200 free: 1:36.12
There’s been a lot of shifting in our ranks since we first scouted this class as sophomores, but Nelson has been the rare rock-solid fixture at the top of the class. Back in 2020, his best event might have been a 47.9 in the 100 fly. Since then, he’s cut from 1:47.1 (as a sophomore) to 1:44.4 (as a junior) to 1:42.0 (as a senior) in the 200 IM, along with similar drops from 3:51.4 to 3:45.6 to 3:41.5 in the 400 IM. He’s the best high school senior IMer we’ve ranked since Carson Foster back in the class of 2020, and Nelson is actually faster than Foster was (1:42.4) in the 200 IM. Nelson’s 400 IM compares favorably to Kieran Smith (3:43.2 back when he was another fast-rising prospect in the class of 2018) and Jake Foster (3:42.2 in the class of 2019). That’s not even mentioning Nelson’s trio of stroke 200s that will probably wind up competing to be his tertiary NCAA event. Right now, backstroke might have the edge after a two-second drop from 1:43.2 to 1:41.2 as a senior.
- 50 free: 19.35 (best in class)
- 100 free: 42.61 (best in class)
- 200 free: 1:36.63
- 100 back: 46.55
- 200 back: 1:46.77
- 100 fly: 47.37
- 200 IM: 1:47.07
McCarty is one of the fastest risers we’ve seen in a long time in the sprint freestyles. He went from an unranked prospect as a 20.3/46.8 sophomore to the #2 overall recruit in the class as a 19.3/42.6 senior. Those are the top sprint free times in the class by solid margins, and his 100 free is the fastest we’ve seen from a senior recruit since Daniel Krueger‘s 42.50 back in the class of 2018. McCarty is also far from a one-dimensional swimmer the way some top sprinters are. His 200 free and 100 back are plenty intriguing enough to provide three NCAA scoring events down the road, and he could turn out to be a massive relay weapon if he keeps improving the way he is.
- 200 free: 1:33.80 (best in class)
- 100 free: 43.09
- 200 IM: 1:44.56
- 50 free: 20.19
- 500 free: 4:18.50
- 1000 free: 9:26.32
- 1650 free: 15:28.50
- 400 IM: 3:50.99
It’s a theme near the top – fast-rising swimmers like Cotter, who snuck into the back end of the list in our sophomore ranks and has surged up to #3 in the two years since. He’s the top 200 freestyler in the class and knocking on the door of the top 100 free time, too. Cotter has a couple of really interesting paths he could take as a college swimmer. He really fits the ever-successful NCAA mold of a 100/200 freestyler (think Drew Kibler or Brooks Curry) who could branch upwards into the 500 free or downwards into the 50. But his strong 1:44.5 in the 200 suggests he could go more of an Andrew Seliskar route as a 200 specialist Swiss Army Knife.
- 1650 free: 14:37.86 (best in class)
- 1000 free: 8:51.37 (best in class)
- 500 free: 4:18.49
- 400 IM: 3:48.41
- 200 IM: 1:46.82
- 200 free: 1:36.22
- 200 back: 1:45.91
- 200 fly: 1:46.10
Custer leads what is an elite class of true distance freestylers. It’s hard to put an accurate value on a game-changing miler because the relay-heavy NCAA format just doesn’t offer that many chances for distance types to score. Because of that, it’s rare for a distance swimmer to rank really highly in a class without an elite 200, so Custer checking in a #4 is a big deal. Get this: he’s the best senior miler we’ve ranked since the class of 2018 that included Michael Brinegar at 14:35 and Bobby Finke at 14:37. Custer should swim the 500 and 1650 frees in the NCAA lineup, and his third event could wind up being the 400 IM or 200 free, depending on how he develops.
- 100 fly: 45.68 (best in class)
- 200 fly: 1:42.94 (best in class)
- 100 back: 47.37
- 200 back: 1:44.67
- 100 free: 44.52
- 50 free: 20.27
What a whirlwind it’s been for Bloebaum. He was the best 100 flyer in the class as a sophomore (47.8) and cracked our top 10 recruits, partially based on huge drops in his 200 fly that suggested he was on-track to be the class’s best butterflyer. Then as a junior, he dropped just 0.4 seconds in the 100 fly and didn’t register a meaningful 200 fly drop in short course or long course as the rest of the butterfly class passed him by. But the breakout we predicted came a year later, as Bloebaum blitzed his wa from 47.4 to 45.6 in the 100 fly and from 1:46.3 to 1:42.9 in the 200 fly to retake the crown of top flyer in the class and vault all the way to #5. He’s a huge NCAA value with a ton of momentum heading into his college career.
- 1650 free: 14:45.37
- 1000 free: 8:51.61
- 500 free: 4:15.91 (best in class)
- 200 free: 1:37.06
If you’re looking for the fastest riser in the class, Chai is definitely your guy. When we first ranked this group as sophomores, he was 1:45/4:31/9:15/15:21 as a distance swimmer. He really didn’t show major short course time drops as a junior, but started to jump onto the recruiting radar when he dropped his long course meters times from 4:15/8:40/16:15 to 3:58/8:08/15:39. The short course times steadily followed over the past year, and Chai is now the best 500 freestyler in the entire class after dropping 16 full seconds across his senior year. His 14:45 mile would have ranked as the best time in each of the past three recruiting classes, too.
- 100 back: 46.39 (best in class)
- 200 back: 1:40.78 (best in class)
- 200 IM: 1:47.21
- 100 fly: 48.55
The top two-distance backstroker in the class, Simons has risen steadily throughout his high school career, cutting from 48.6/1:44.9 as a sophomore to 47.8/1:42.9 as a junior to 46.3/1:40.7 as a senior. He doesn’t have much of a third event yet, but when you factor in how important the leadoff legs of both medleys are for getting clean water, his NCAA value is really, really high.
- 200 breast: 1:52.92 (best in class)
- 100 breast: 52.97
- 200 IM: 1:46.99
- 400 IM: 3:47.62
- 200 back: 1:45.44
Fan is the top 200 breaststroker in the class, and easily the top breaststroker as a whole between both distances. He had a massive 200 breast drop over his senior year, cutting from 1:56.6 as of last year’s rankings. He’s also a solid IM prospect, and may have to decide between the 400 IM and 100 breast on the third day of NCAAs down the road.
- 200 back: 1:41.20
- 100 back: 46.86
- 200 IM: 1:45.51
- 400 IM: 3:48.49
- 100 fly: 47.92
- 200 fly: 1:46.62
This feels too far down the list for Zuchowski, who is a really good and versatile prospect. But he hasn’t had a ton of senior year drops after surging as a junior. Even though he’s fallen behind Simons, Zuchowski’s backstrokes are still elite-level for a recruit, and he’s got a serious long course meters resume (55.1/1:58 backstroke, 54.6/1:59.8 fly) that should bode really well for his improvement at the NCAA level. Keep an eye on that 200 IM, where we tend to see a lot of time drops from high school to college.
- 100 fly: 46.41
- 200 fly: 1:43.03
- 200 IM: 1:46.73
- 400 IM: 3:53.59
- 100 back: 47.37
- 50 free: 20.22
- 100 free: 44.82
Like Zuchowski, Gentry remains an incredibly versatile prospect who will carry a ton of value in the NCAA format. He probably projects best as a butterflyer, especially after going 1:58.7 in the long course 200 fly last summer. He’s just a tick behind Bloebaum for the top 200-yard fly in the class, and has also been 53.4 in the long course 100 fly.
- 1650 free: 14:58.94
- 1000 free: 8:58.87
- 500 free: 4:19.65
- 200 back: 1:42.76
- 400 IM: 3:47.23
- 200 free: 1:37.79
Yet another sub-15:00 miler in this stacked distance class. Norris is just a few seconds off what it took to qualify for NCAAs this past spring, and also brings one of the better 500 frees in the class. Since last year, his mile is pretty much the same, but he’s cut some time in the 200/500/1000 frees, plus a big 200 back drop.
- 50 free: 19.57
- 100 back: 46.41
- 100 free: 44.10
- 200 back: 1:46.50
So far across two years of ranks, Crosby has been a pure sprinter without a great third event. While he remains an elite speedster with the second-best 50 free time in the class, he’s also improved his 100 free from 45.8 to 44.1. That’s a big deal with how many relays include the 100 free in the NCAA format. And we haven’t even mentioned his 46.4 in the 100 back, which is 0.2 seconds from being tops in the class.
- 200 free: 1:34.05
- 200 fly: 1:44.05
- 500 free: 4:22.04
- 100 free: 43.91
- 100 fly: 47.50
- 200 back: 1:46.98
- 200 IM: 1:47.71
- 400 IM: 3:48.43
Sergile is an ultra-versatile swimmer who will probably wind up in the 200 free and 200 fly individually. He’s not far off the best 200 free time in the class after cutting a full second as a senior. Going sub-44 in the 100 free really helps seal Sergile’s relay value, though the 500 free might be a more natural individual third event in the NCAA order.
- 1650 free: 14:49.75
- 1000 free: 8:58.77
- 500 free: 4:24.50
Did we mention how good this distance class is? Sandidge would have scored at NCAAs this year with his career-best 14:49, a drop of 8 seconds from his junior-year best. Sandidge doesn’t yet have the range down to the 500 of some of the distance swimmers ahead of him, but could be one of the earlier NCAA scorers in the class if his mile keeps improving.
- 1650 free: 14:51.96
- 1000 free: 9:00.96
- 500 free: 4:22.50
- 400 IM: 3:48.08
- 200 breast: 1:58.91
Yet another distance swimmer in our top 20. Linscheer is close to Sandidge’s level in the 1650 with another NCAA scoring time, and he’s got a little more versatility down to the 500. These two distance swimmers are pretty interchangeable in our ranks at this point.
- 100 fly: 46.09
- 100 free: 43.19
- 50 free: 20.16
- 100 back: 47.71
Foote has registered massive time drops in his 100 fly (47.3 to 46.0) and 100 free (44.3 to 43.1) since last year, and he’s knocking on the door of a 19-second 50 free. That will give him a ton of relay value in the NCAA, and he could develop into a versatile sprinter who could help the fly, back, or free legs of medley relays.
- 100 back: 46.75
- 200 back: 1:42.00
- 100 free: 44.42
Another solid backstroker in our top 20, Janton has made massive drops since our last round of rankings: from 48.2 to 46.7 in the 100 back and from 1:44.2 to 1:42.0 in the 200 back. He’s a dark horse candidate to become the top backstroker in this class.
- 200 back: 1:41.99
- 100 back: 46.97
- 200 free: 1:36.75
Powe is very similar to Janton, time-wise. Powe is a little faster across the 200, but has a tick less speed in the 100. Though he hasn’t had time drops like Janton, he’s still improving, cutting a few tenths in both races as a senior.
- 100 fly: 46.84
- 200 fly: 1:43.65
- 200 free: 1:37.92
McKenna has dropped a full second in the 100 fly since last year to jump into our rankings for the first time. He’s also dropped 1.4 seconds in the 200 fly and could be in the hunt to hit NCAA invite times in both races early in his career. (It took 45.5/1:42.4 to make NCAAs this spring).
- 50 free: 19.77
- 100 free: 43.59
- 100 fly: 48.52
Still one of the best sprinters in the class, Joyce falls in our ranks a little but retains huge NCAA scoring value as one of only a few 19-second sprinters in the class.
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.
- 100 breast: 52.36 (best in class)
- 200 breast: 1:56.35
- 50 free: 20.08
- 100 free: 44.75
Keep an eye out for this guy, who dropped from 55.0 as a junior to 52.3 as a senior to become the top 100 breaststroker in the class. His 200 also dropped from 2:05.5 to 1:56.3, so the trajectory is definitely there for Rankin to become of the better scorers in this class over the next four years.
- 200 free: 1:35.55
- 500 free: 4:19.46
- 100 fly: 47.54
- 200 fly: 1:47.02
- 400 IM: 3:48.11
- 100 free: 44.13
Zucker is a solid mid-distance prospect who is among the better 200 and 500 freestylers in the class. Even without those times, he has a great 100 fly and an interesting 400 IM.
- 1650 free: 14:56.69
- 1000 free: 9:03.39
- 500 free: 4:20.49
- 200 free: 1:36.93
Yet another sub-15:00 miler. With Enyeart’s good 500 free, there’s definitely an argument to put him in the top 20 alongside distance swimmers like Sandidge and Linscheer.
- 400 IM: 3:47.00
- 200 IM: 1:46.18
- 200 back: 1:42.63
- 100 back: 47.21
- 100 fly: 47.60
- 200 fly: 1:46.39
- 100 free: 43.75
- 200 free: 1:35.37
- 500 free: 4:25.92
Incredibly versatile, McDonald could become an IMer, backstroker, or butterflyer at the NCAA level. IM seems most likely – he dropped almost three seconds in his 400 IM as a senior and more than three in the 200 IM.
- 200 back: 1:41.85
- 100 back: 47.72
- 200 free: 1:36.75
- 200 fly: 1:46.10
Ewing is a fast riser in the backstrokes, dropping from 1:44.4 to 1:41.8 in the 200 back over his senior year while taking almost a second off his 100.
- 100 fly: 46.47
- 200 fly: 1:45.24
- 50 free: 20.12
- 100 free: 44.76
Bacon definitely merits mention here as a 46-low flyer who was just 48.0 when we ranked this class last year. He’s taken four seconds off his 200 fly, too.
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:
- Andres Dupont Cabrera (20.0/43.6/1:35.6) **Verbally committed to Stanford**
- Lucius Brown (19.8/44.3) **Verbally committed to Yale**
- Roman Valdez (20.6/44.5/1:35.6) **Verbally committed to LSU**
- Jonny Kulow (20.0/43.6/1:36.3) **Verbally committed to Arizona State**
- Anders Aistars (20.2/44.0/1:36.5) **Verbally committed to Harvard**
- Tommy Palmer (20.0/44.0) **Verbally committed to Arizona**
- Daniel Gordon (20.1/44.1) **Verbally committed to Florida**
- Drayden Bell (20.1/44.2) **Verbally committed to Alabama**
- Distance free:
- Charlie Arnold (53.2/1:57.0) **Verbally committed to USC**
- Matthew Lucky (53.7/1:55.9) **Verbally committed to Northwestern**
- Ozan Kalafat (53.7/1:56.7) **Verbally committed to Michigan**
- Will Bonnett (53.7/1:57.0) **Verbally committed to BYU**
- Ryan Malicki (53.4/1:59.0) **Verbally committed to Notre Dame**
- Alan Cherches (53.8/1:58.4) **Verbally committed to Penn**
- Zachary Tan (1:46.7/3:48.8) **Verbally committed to Cal**
- Kyle Ponsler (1:47.1/3:47.7) **Verbally committed to NC State**
- Jack Anderson (1:47.8/3:49.0) **Verbally committed to Notre Dame**
- Tona Zinn (1:46.4) **Verbally committed to Northwestern**
- Alec Filipovic (1:46.1) **Verbally committed to Texas**
- Collin McKenzie (1:46.2) **Verbally committed to NC State**
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 2024||Way Too Early Ranks As Sophomores|
|High School Class of 2023||Way Too Early Ranks As Sophomores||Ranks as Juniors|
|High School Class of 2022||Way Too Early Ranks As Sophomores||Ranks as Juniors|
|High School Class of 2021||Way Too Early Ranks As Sophomores||Ranks as Juniors||Re-Rank As Seniors|
|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||Post-college retrospective|
|High School Class of 2017||Ranks as Juniors||Post-college retrospective|
|High School Class of 2016||Ranks as Juniors||Post-college retrospective|
|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|