Returning Conference Points: Big Talents Incoming For ACC Women

The 2020 NCAA Championships were canceled in the coronavirus pandemic – but the virus can’t stop our pre-season coverage for the 2021 campaign. We’re running through a comprehensive preview of each of the Power-5 conferences in Division I, compiling returning conference points and tracking transfers and incoming recruits.

2020 Lookback

Virginia returned to the top of the ACC in 2020, cruising to a 159-point win based on massive points from their juniors (46.05) and freshmen (342), the two highest-scoring classes in the conference. Both classes were represented by a multi-event conference champ: Paige Madden (200/500/1650 free titles for the juniors) and Kate Douglass (200 IM/100 fly titles for the freshmen). UVA swept four of the five relays and also saw senior Morgan Hill take the 100 free.

NC State stole the lone non-Cavalier relay, winning the 400 medley relay. The Wolfpack also pulled off a breaststroke sweep with sophomore Sophie Hansson (100/200 breast) and got wins from freshman Katharine Berkoff (100 back), sophomore Emma Muzzy (200 back), sophomore Kylee Alons (50 free) and junior Kate Moore (400 IM).

Louisville had the lone swimming event win outside of those two programs (Grace Oglesby in the 200 fly) and finished third overall.

With those three teams the clear-cut top tier, UNC rose to fourth place in the first year of its new coaching staff under Mark GangloffNotre Dame bested Duke for fifth.

Returning Points for 2021

Virginia is built to defend its title, with the entire freshman and junior classes returning. Four Hill relay legs are clearly the biggest losses, but the Cavaliers are plenty deep enough to refill those spots from their growing pool of blue-chip recruits. UVA returns 80% of its individual points, the highest percentage of the top three teams.

NC State graduates more points than Virginia, but does return one more relay leg. Star sprinter Ky-Lee Perry is the key loss, and her splits were high-impact, much like Hill’s were. On the flip side, the Wolfpack are well ahead of Louisville in returning points, and it looks like a very stratified conference with only two real contenders for the 2021 ACC crown.

Louisville drops off badly in returning points, losing seven individual scorers and almost half of its relay legs. In fact, UNC could be primed to make a run, with just 13.5 fewer returning points than Louisville and all but one relay leg returning.

Further down, Florida State sees a big disparity in returning individual points (just 58% returning) and relay legs (a conference-high 19 of 20 returning). That’s because their top two scorers last year were senior divers who are now out the door.

Team Returning Individual Points % Returning Individual Points Returning Relay Legs
Virginia 940.5 80% 15/20
NC State 748.5 71% 16/20
Louisville 519.5 62% 12/20
UNC 506 87% 19/20
Notre Dame 441 81% 14/20
Duke 315.5 73% 13/20
Virginia Tech 255 88% 17/20
Florida State 193 58% 19/20
Georgia Tech 131 55% 10/20
Miami 116 100% 16/20
Pitt 91.5 47% 12/20
Boston College 0 0% 15/20

Scorers By Team

Teams are listed in their 2020 conference finish order. Athletes are listed with their year as of the current 2019-2020 season, not their year for the 2020-2021 season.

Virginia (940.5)

Athlete Year 2020 Points
Madden, Paige JR 96
Douglass, Kathe FR 91
Nelson, Margare FR 82
Richter, Abigai JR 81
Cuomo, Alexa FR 68
Gmelich, Caroli JR 63
Seiberlich, Emm JR 58
Wenger, Alexis SO 56
Donohoe, Madely FR 54
Earley, Erin JR 51
Nava, Jessica SO 50
Valls, Kyla JR 47.5
Maguire, Marcel JR 36
Menkhaus, Julia SO 32
Porter, Jocelyn JR 28
Bell, Jenn FR 26
Collins, Ella FR 21

NC State (748.5)

Athlete Year 2020 Points
Moore, Kathleen JR 87
Alons, Kylee SO 87
Hansson, Sophie SO 84
Muzzy, Emma SO 81
Poole, Julia JR 74
Berkoff, Kathar FR 60.5
Calegan, Olivia JR 58
Maccausland, He FR 48
Foley, Katharin FR 47
Huizinga, Danik JR 40
Mack, Katelyn FR 33
Shumate, Anna JR 20
Synnott, Helene FR 13
Rowe, Sirena JR 12
Fisher, Olivia JR 4

Louisville (519.5)

Athlete Year 2020 Points
Openysheva, Ari JR 75
Kraus, Alena SO 64
Hay, Abigail FR 62
Astashkina, Mar JR 62
Regenauer, Chri FR 50.5
Friesen, Morgan JR 47
Sumida, Maria E SO 40
Wheeler, Kaylee SO 31
Dunn, Diana SO 23
Luther, Madison FR 22
Lowe, Carley JR 22
Andrews, Abigai FR 14
Schoof, Ashlyn JR 7

UNC (506)

Athlete Year 2020 Points
Hauder, Carolin JR 74
Grund, Emily SO 64
Cole, Emma JR 59
Countie, Grace SO 57.5
Lindner, Sophie SO 56.5
Higgs, Lillian SO 39
Vannote, Elizab FR 35
Reiter, Allyson JR 32
Segard, Grazyn FR 21
Burrell, Paige FR 21
Soule, Mary JR 12
Dragelin, Amy FR 10
Hockenberry, Ta JR 7
Lowe, Heidi SO 7
Perrotta, Brook JR 5
Cooper, Carolin FR 4
Layton, Emma JR 2

Notre Dame (441)

Athlete Year 2020 Points
Gillilan, Colee FR 73
Thomas, Luciana SO 70
Straub, Kelly SO 49
Wiese, Annie SO 43
Quast, Carly JR 41
Andrews, Claire JR 31
Isola, Erin JR 28
Stewart, Bayley SO 26
Stone, Lindsay JR 25
Laporte, Madeli SO 23
Fry, Elizabeth FR 17
Grunhard, Caile JR 7
Nicholls, Sarah SO 6
Wittmer, Rachel JR 2

Duke (315.5)

Athlete Year 2020 Points
Lee, Easop SO 45
Dean, Constance JR 40
Pish, Melissa SO 28
Watson, Aliyah FR 27
Park, Seohyun FR 27
Shuppert, Emma FR 25.5
Winslow, Ellie JR 18
Snyder, Sarah FR 17
Pullinger, Madd SO 17
Scannell, Quinn JR 14
Whitlow, Cabell SO 14
Morris, Halle JR 12
Hollander, Shay SO 11
Mullin, Kate FR 9
Callard, Lucy SO 7
Lusk, Zoe SO 4

Florida State (193)

Athlete Year 2020 Points
Kucheran, Nina SO 40
Alnek, Kertu SO 29
McDonald, Madel SO 26.5
Fernandes, Arya SO 25
Vanovermeiren, FR 20
Terebo, Emma JR 18
Zortea, Ana JR 11.5
Cohen, Madeline JR 7
Womer, Hannah SO 6
Holmes, Stephan SO 4
Emary, Magdalen SO 3
Baker, Katherin SO 2
Moynihan, Rebec JR 1

Virginia Tech (255)

Athlete Year 2020 Points
Vereb, Joelle JR 58
Moravek, Teagan SO 44
Travis, Brooke FR 35
Vos, Loulou SO 32
Shackelford, Sa FR 18
Meilus, Emily JR 18
Miller, Morgan FR 14
Larson, Abigail SO 13
Thompson, Jenna FR 7
Mroz, Izzi SO 6
Westwood, Regan JR 5
Landon, Anna SO 4
Smith, Julia FR 1

Georgia Tech (131)

Athlete Year 2020 Points
Hidalgo, Cami JR 85
Johnson, Morgan SO 15
Hadd, Madeleine SO 9
Paschal, Alexan JR 7
Switzer, Brooke FR 5
Williams, Nicol SO 5
Campbell, Mcken FR 3
Dekshenieks, Ke SO 2

Pitt (91.5)

Athlete Year 2020 Points
Read, Amy SO 46
Buchwald, Seren SO 24
Elliott, Dakota SO 7
Nalls, Madison SO 6.5
Anderson, Daisy FR 5
Fuhrmann, Kate FR 2
Menahem, Shahar JR 1

Miami (116)

Athlete Year 2020 Points
Mason, Zorryonn SO 40
Creed, Jessie FR 27
Vallee, Mia FR 22
Haffety, Millie SO 14
Skellett, Alain JR 13

Boston College (0)

No returning individual scorers

New Additions

Virginia easily leads the field in incoming talent. We ranked their recruiting class #2 in the nation, with a good argument for the top spot overall. Alex Walsh is one of the best swimming recruits of the past decade – she probably fits in best as a breaststroker (58.1/2:05.8) or IMer (1:53.6/4:07.9), but could also be an elite backstroker (50.8/1:51.4), and should be an instant relay threat in freestyle (22.0/48.9/1:45.0).

Virginia also gets elite breaststroker Anna Keating (59.0/2:09.2), long course IM standout Emma Weyant (4:07.6 in yards but 4:35.4 in long course meters) and standout flyer Abby Harter (52.3/1:54.7), among others.

Louisville and NC State also have great recruiting classes. Louisville went in big on butterflyers, which is timely after top individual scorer Grace Oglesby used up her eligibility this season. Tristen Ulett (52.0/1:55.7) and Gabi Albiero (51.9/1:55.8) should be an awesome pair, and backstroker Paige Hetrick (52.8/1:53.0) helps fill in some points from a big senior class.

NC State has a really big class, but the early-impact talent is in breaststroke, with 59.7/2:08.0 freshman Abby Arens and 59.6/2:08.6 transfer Andrea Podmanikova.

A few other recruiting classes stand out. Virginia Tech has a relatively small but high-impact class. Distance swimmer Chase Travis (4:41.7/16:05) is one of the best freshman milers in the country. 52.8/1:53.7 backstroker Emma Atkinson is a great pickup, and Spain’s Nadia Gonzalez (2:02.2/57.0/26.1 long course free) is a good addition to the relay pool.

Duke has a big class, led by senior transfer Mia Bullockthe Atlantic-10 Swimmer of the Year and a 53.0 flyer for Fordham. Turkish record-holder Aleyna Ozkan (59.8 long course fly) adds to that fly group, along with 1:56.7 flyer and 4:12.4 IMer Catherine Purnell

Notre Dame got an impact transfer in 1:00.5 breaststroker Ellie Jew from Arizona, and 52.9/1:55.7 flyer Megan Deuel is one to watch.

Florida State adds 25.6/55.5 long course freestyler Szofia Kurdi. 

2021 Outlook

It’s pretty hard to pick against Virginia at this point, with a nearly-200-point edge in returning points, plus the best recruiting class in the conference by a longshot. That’s more a vote in favor of Virginia’s excellence, though, than it is any slight to NC State, which also returns a strong amount of points and adds a good group of newcomers.

It’d be shocking to see anyone challenge those two for the top two spots. Louisville vs UNC could be an intriguing one. The Cardinals have just 13.5 more returning points, and North Carolina brings back all but a single relay leg from last year. But Louisville’s great freshman group could be a difference-maker. And UNC’s freshmen only scored 90 at ACCs last year compared to 148.5 for Louisville, so the underclassmen heavily favor the Cards.

From there, things could get interesting. Notre Dame returns about 125 more points than Duke, and their recruiting classes are very comparable. But Virginia Tech is charging behind them, with a few high-end recruits and 17 of 20 relay legs returning. But will that be enough to make up about 60 points on Duke and almost 200 on Notre Dame?

Florida State has all but one relay leg coming back, and they should upgrade some legs with Kurdi coming in the door.

Way-Too-Early Conference Picks

  1. Virginia
  2. NC State
  3. Louisville
  4. UNC
  5. Notre Dame
  6. Virginia Tech
  7. Duke
  8. Florida State
  9. Georgia Tech
  10. Pitt
  11. Miami
  12. Boston College

In This Story

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1 year ago

Wow I knew alex Walsh was good, but when you see all her times in one place like that it’s incredible. The only strok you didn’t mention for her was butterfly and she’s 51.3 there. 48.9 free/50.8 back/58.1 breast/51.3 fly for her 100s. Plus killers IMs and almost as (arguable just as) impressive 50s and 200s

Reply to  Klorn8d
1 year ago

Also for Uva, they’ll have her and Douglass who’s pretty much equally insanely versatile in the same springy events on the same team for 3 years.

Reply to  Klorn8d
1 year ago

Plus Gretchen Walsh will swim with both for 2 years – she’s slightly less versatile, but has an even higher ceiling in the 50/100 free, which will make her huge on 4 relays

Silent Observer
1 year ago

If I’m not mistaken… In the recap of 2020 acc’s… The 200 back win from Emma Muzzy isn’t listed. Another NCState sophomore.

I remember it being a fun 1-2 punch from Muzzy & Berkoff. Contributing to a backstroke sweep by NCState… Just not by the same individual.

Reply to  Silent Observer
1 year ago

I still remember Muzzy’s 200 Back win from 2019. What a comeback that last 25!

ACC fan
1 year ago

Love this kind of in depth analysis! Thank you!

1 year ago

This is the first projection this year with a seemingly clear winner

Reply to  swimfan210_
1 year ago

Yea too bad for the ACC. When on team get loaded it aint never good.

Silent Observer
Reply to  Ladyvoldisser
1 year ago

Have you ever heard the saying, “a high tide raises all boats”?

That’s how it will ultimately shake out. Yes UVA is a rockstar in the recruitment process right now, but that’s not to say that ppl still won’t come to other schools.

Teams still want to win their conference and will try harder to stay on the same level with NCState and UVA.

A winning streak only kills conferences if the other schools stop trying.

Reply to  Silent Observer
1 year ago

Exactly what I am saying – you made my point. It is disheartening for the lower schools to have to watch the rockstar teams win so much. Imagine going into a dual meet knowing you have zero chance or conference fighting for 8th place. I say UVA should be more considerate and stop recruiting for two years. Being the bully on the block aint right never and nohow.

Reply to  Ladyvoldisser
1 year ago

I’m sure Coach DeSorbo will honor your request to cease recruiting Women for the next two years so that the rest of the Conference can catch up. Quid pro quo: NC State stops recruiting Men for the same period. And while we are at it – no California schools nor Texas may sign anyone ranked in the Top 100 for the next decade. But, Tennessee is free to recruit to their heart’s content.

1 year ago

Virginia is becoming quite a juggernaut!
After all the conference projections are complete is there a plan to do one for NCAAs? Hopefully we have a decision from Taylor Ruck by then because if she’s back it’s gonna be close and the comments on the article might be more entertaining than the actual meet.

About Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson swam for nearly twenty years. Then, Jared Anderson stopped swimming and started writing about swimming. He's not sick of swimming yet. Swimming might be sick of him, though. Jared was a YMCA and high school swimmer in northern Minnesota, and spent his college years swimming breaststroke and occasionally pretending …

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