Each summer, college swimming fans look forward to recruiting – the lifeblood of any NCAA swim program. Since 2012, we’ve been ranking down the top NCAA prospects in the nation from each recruiting class. But sports are inherently unpredictable, and even the most sure-fire prospect can go awry or completely change their role over four years.
2017 offers us our first chance to look backwards at the first class we ever ranked and see how they stacked up over four years of college swimming.
First, a few notes:
- Most of the data we’re tracking here deals with NCAA scoring. Obviously, some swimmers are great assets for their teams in dual meets and conference competition without ever being national factors. While we don’t discount the impact of those types of swimmers, the difference in competition between various teams’ dual meet schedules and conference meets makes NCAA scoring the best “apples to apples” comparisons between swimmers.
- Relays are another point of contention, as a swimmer in a strong program has more opportunity for NCAA relays, though they also have more competition for those relay spots. We’ve mostly left relay results out of the data below, except where specifically indicated. That, too, gives us a more fair comparison between athletes.
- We did our best to scour NCAA results over the past four years, but it’s certainly possible we made a mistake in compiling our data. If you spot an error, please respectfully let us know in the comment section so we can update our work!
Since our annual recruit rankings only take into account domestic recruits, the following analysis won’t include international swimmers. We’ve found that determining when international students will come to the U.S. or officially start their NCAA eligibility is too unpredictable. Fitting swimmers into specific recruiting classes is often a patchwork effort, so we’ve only included domestic swimmers in this data.
Revisiting Our Top 10
Check out this post for our analysis of the top 10 recruits in the high school class of 2013. Bear in mind that this was posted in July of 2012, when recruiting season opened on these swimmers prior to their senior year of high school.
Here’s a look at our top 10 recruits, plus how many individual points they scored at NCAAs in each of their four years:
|Rank||Name||College Team||Total NCAA Points||2014 NCAA Points||2015 NCAA Points||2016 NCAA Points||2017 NCAA Points|
|HM||Matthew Josa||Queens/Cal||120 (DII) / 0 (DI)||60 (DII – Queens)||60 (DII – Queens)||Redshirt||0 (Cal)|
|HM||Evan Pinion||Tennessee||11||Redshirt||11||0 (pre-meet scratch)||0|
A few big takeaways:
- Ryan Murphy was the undisputed individual star of the class. He scored 217 of a possible 240 NCAA points individually, plus 12 total NCAA titles between relays and individuals. His backstroke leadoff legs on medley relays were routinely among the fastest ever swum, and he gave Cal four years of clean water for the rest of their medleys.
- Our #1 recruit, Jack Conger, was a little less productive individually. But it’s quite likely Texas wouldn’t even trade Conger for Murphy in retrospect, given the huge role Conger played in three straight national titles. Conger has always been a massive relay asset, and won 8 NCAA relay titles. He also gave up an individual event (and the accompanying points) in 2016 to focus on his relay swims, though that event was the 100 back where there’s no guarantee he would have scored.
- Steven Stumph was always going to be a bit on the lower end points-wise, given he was pretty much pigeon-holed into breaststroke. Still, he took at least a year to really come around before becoming a pretty productive role player in the class.
- Though Renny Richmond never scored individually for Arizona, he was a part of NCAA relays over several years.
- Reed Malone will probably be forever known for his incredible anchor leg on USC’s 2015 NCAA title-winning 800 free relay. He struggled his senior year but was lights out for several seasons and played a key role on two national title-winning relays.
- Kyle Darmody was as big a relay piece as anyone, even if his individual points don’t reflect it. He, too, had a rough senior season.
- Matthew Josa started his career in the NCAA’s Division II, where he won 10 NCAA titles and scored a perfect 120 NCAA points. He took two DQs in scoring races this year for Cal in Division I, which drags down his numbers some, but he’s got one year of eligibility remaining and should add to his numbers next year.
- Easily the most interesting story of this bunch is Erik Risolvato, who originally committed to Arizona. He didn’t wind up attending Arizona, surfacing instead at Indian River State College in Florida. But he never competed for IRSC and dropped off the map for awhile. He’s since gotten back into competition and turned pro, contending for an Olympic spot for Puerto Rico – which was derailed at the last minute.
- Clark Smith‘s story is well-known. He had a forgettable freshman year, blew up as a sophomore, blew up more as a junior midseason but then had a disastrous NCAA meet. He came back with force this year, though, to finish with the 4th-highest point total of this top 10.
- Tennessee’s Evan Pinion always seemed to deal with injuries, scratching last year’s NCAAs with a medical issue. He would typically hit massive swims in the fall to show his potential, but could never stay healthy enough to rack up big NCAA points. He could have another year of eligibility left if he’s physically able to continue.
NCAA Titles (Relay & Individual) Among Top Class of 2013 Recruits:
|Swimmer||NCAA DI Titles (Ind or Rel)|
Other Impactful Swimmers in the High School Recruiting Class of 2013
Of course, not every contributor comes from our top 10 list. Some swimmers develop extremely well in college. Some swimmers slip under our radar, or don’t really show their ability until their senior year of high school, after our rankings come out.
We dug through NCAA results to find the best American swimmers from this class to not appear on our top 10 list. Again, it’s not always easy to account for redshirt years, gap years or mistakes in an athlete’s listed class each season. So if we forgot anyone, respectfully let us know in the comments!
Note: We tracked these athletes based on individual All-America honors, or finishes inside the NCAA’s top 8 in any given individual event in any given year:
Individual NCAA A Final (Or Top 8) Appearances, High School Class of 2013
|Brandon Fiala||Virginia Tech||5||3||2|
|Matt McHugh||Ohio State||3||1||2|
|Adam Linker||NC State||1||1|
|Robert Owen||Virginia Tech||1||1|
|Trent Jackson||Notre Dame||1||1|
Obviously, 7-time NCAA champ Will Licon is the biggest name here. He, as much as anyone, exploded over his college career. Here are Licon’s top times as of July 2012, when we ranked his recruiting class:
Will Licon As of July 2012
- 100 breast: 55.80
- 200 breast: 1:58.08
- 200 IM: 1:49.06
- 400 IM: 3:54.65
It’s a testament to Licon’s growth over college that since then, he’s dropped about five seconds in the 100 breast, more than 10 in the 200 breast, about nine in the 200 IM and a whopping 17 in the 400 IM. He wound up scoring 194.5 points at NCAAs individually, second-most behind only Murphy in this class.
Chadwick is another interesting name. He was primarily a breaststroker out of high school, with times of 58.3 and 2:09.4 as of our recruit rankings. He became one of the NCAA’s best sprinters, complete with a runner-up finish in the 100 free this year. His Mizzou class featured 3 of the best high school recruits not in our top 10: himself, Carter Griffin and Andrew Sansoucie.
Other teams with multiple swimmers on this list: Virginia Tech and Texas.