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.
As we do each year, we’ll look back at the high school class of 2018, which just finished four years of college eligibility this spring.
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 left relay results out of the data below, except where specifically indicated. That, too, gives us a more fair comparison between athletes.
- We don’t rank diving recruits, but we have started to track individual diving scoring, which is helpful in determining how much of an impact a diver is likely to have on NCAA finish.
- We did our best to scour NCAA results over the past four-plus 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!
2022 Note: Due to swimmers being granted an extra year of eligibility after the 2020 NCAA cancelation, some of these athletes may still have years of scoring still to come.
We only include domestic recruits in our recruit rankings, as it’s often harder to predict if and when an international recruit will join the NCAA, and which class they should be ranked with. However, we’ve gone back through and tallied up all individual scorers that roughly fit into this class – international and domestic.
REVISITING OUR TOP 20
Check out this post for our analysis of the top 20 recruits in the high school class of 2018. This class was actually the first in which we did a re-rank for the swimmers when they were high school seniors (previously the final rankings were done during their juniors years). Since the re-rank gives us the best gauge of where the athletes were coming into the NCAA, and therefore we get a better idea of who improved the most during their time in college, we’re using the re-ranked top-20 rather than the original rankings from their junior seasons.
Here’s a look at our top 10 recruits, plus how many individual points they scored at NCAAs in each of their four years:
Note: we’ve made an effort to put a dash (–) in a season in which an athlete didn’t compete (or was cut short due to injury) rather than “no invite”. If you see an error please let us know in the comments.
|RANK||NAME||COLLEGE TEAM||TOTAL NCAA POINTS||2019 NCAA POINTS||2020 NCAA POINTS||2021 NCAA POINTS||2022 NCAA POINTS||2020 NCAA PSYCH SHEET POINTS|
|3||Alexei Sancov||USC||18||no invite||—||18||0||6|
|7||Cody Bybee||Arizona State||0||–||—||redshirt||0||11|
|9||Jack Levant||Stanford||0||—||—||no invite||–|
|14||Matthew Willenbring||Texas||0||0||—||no invite||–||16|
|15||Noah Henry||Arizona State||0||no invite||—||redshirt||–||no invite|
|16||Jason Park||Texas||0||no invite||—||roster scratch||no invite|
|18||Khalil Fonder||Arizona State/Virginia Tech||0||no invite||—||no invite||–||no invite|
|19||Andrew Abruzzo||Georgia||2||0||—||2||no invite|
|20||Mason Gonzalez||Stanford||0||no invite||—||no invite||no invite||no invite|
|HM||Shaine Casas||Texas A&M||70||10||—||60||–||57|
|HM||Andrew Koustik||Texas||0||0||—||roster scratch||no invite||roster cap cut|
|HM||Zach Brown||NC State||0||no invite||—||0||no invite||no invite|
|HM||Jack Franzman||Indiana||5||no invite||—||5||no invite|
Texas’ Matthew Willenbring was an NCAA qualifier as a freshman and then won the 2020 Big 12 title in the 200 IM before the NCAA cancelation. Willenbring has been dealing with a long-lingering health issue that has kept him out of collegiate competition for the last two years, but he hopes to make a return.
- In a class with no shortage of standouts, Florida’s Kieran Smith emerged as the top scorer with 119 points in three NCAA meets, adding 44 in his senior season. He was incredibly versatile, having raced in six different events over his three NCAA appearances, highlighted by a national title in the 200 free in 2021. Since joining the Gators he’s also become the fasest swimmer of all-time in the 500 free.
- Texas’ Drew Kibler was a close second to Smith with 118.5 points, breaking through and winning his first individual title this season in the 200 free. Kibler scored in all nine of his NCAA races, seven of those being in the ‘A’ final.
- The Gators really hit the nail on the head in nabbing both Smith and Bobby Finke in this recruiting class, as Finke finishes with 100 points for his career including three individual titles.
- Max McHugh had a phenomenal four-year career at Minnesota, scoring an incredible 110 points over just six races at NCAAs (average of 18.3 points per event, which is more than the 17 points that go to second place). McHugh won three breaststroke titles over his career, including the 100/200 sweep in 2021.
- While he has yet to win that elusive individual title (he could take another run at it next season), #1 ranked Reece Whitley was a consistent top performer for Cal, scoring 92 points and helping the Bears to a pair of team championship titles.
- Shaine Casas was arguably the most dominant swimmer to come from this class, given that he went three-for-three in his events at the 2021 NCAAs (60 points) and was seeded to score 57 at the canceled 2020 meet. Despite only racing at two NCAA Championships, since he turned pro early, Casas still ranks as the sixth-highest scorer out of this class.
- Seven of the top-20 recruits didn’t end up scoring at NCAAs for a variety of reasons.
- The highest-ranked swimmer who hasn’t scored is Arizona State’s Cody Bybee, who was forced out of NCAAs due to illness as a freshman and then didn’t get another opportunity to swim at NCAAs until this season after the Sun Devils redshirted their entire roster last year. Bybee was the 2020 Pac-12 runner-up in the 100 fly and neared scoring at NCAA this season, placing 20th in the 50 free and 25th in the 100 fly. He did swim some critical relay legs this season, helping ASU to top-eight finishes in four relays, including a runner-up finish in the 400 free.
- Alexei Sancov has shown flashes of brilliance during his career at USC but hasn’t put up the point totals you’d expect of a #3 recruit. Sancov scored 18 NCAA points, all as a junior, and was as fast as 1:31.82 leading off the Trojans’ 800 free relay that year.
- Noah Henry, Andrew Abruzzo, Khalil Fonder and Mason Gonzalez didn’t pan out as projected at the NCAA level. Jason Park and Andrew Koustik fell victim to the incredibly deep Texas Longhorns roster.
OTHER IMPACTFUL RECRUITS IN THE HIGH SCHOOL CLASS OF 2018
Of course, not every contributor comes from our top 20 list. Some swimmers develop extremely well in college. Some swimmers slip under our radar, or don’t prove to be late bloomers once they hit the NCAA.
We dug through NCAA results to find the best American swimmers from this class to not appear on our top 20 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, please let us know in the comments.
|NAME||COLLEGE TEAM||TOTAL NCAA POINTS||2019 NCAA POINTS||2020 NCAA POINTS||2021 NCAA POINTS||2022 NCAA POINTS||2020 NCAA PSYCH SHEET POINTS|
|Jason Mathews||Ohio State||15||—||15||–||4|
|Hudson McDaniel||Ohio State||7||—||7||0|
|Michael Daly||Penn State||5||—||5||0||1|
|Josh Bottelberghe||Notre Dame||5||—||5|
|Cooper DeRyk||Utah||2.5||—||2.5||0 (relay-only)|
|Dylan Eichberg||Virginia Tech||2||—||2|
|Blake Manoff||Virginia Tech||0||—||15|
|Christian Sztolcman||Auburn||0||—||0 (relay-only)||3|
|Kyle Barone||Georgia Tech||0||—||1|
- Along with Smith and Finke, Florida also got a big boost from this high school class in the form of Dillon Hillis, who put up 34 points over the last two seasons with the Gators.
- Zane Backes was a stud for Indiana in his two NCAA appearances, scoring double-digit points both times.
- Braden Vines had a big junior year with Texas, scoring 23 points including a sixth-place finish in the 400 IM. He was also seeded for 34 in 2020.
- Princeton’s Raunak Khosla really rounded into form in his senior year, earning second swims in all three of his events to go along with a sweep of his individual races at the Ivy League Championships.
|NAME||COLLEGE TEAM||TOTAL NCAA POINTS||2019 NCAA POINTS||2020 NCAA POINTS||2021 NCAA POINTS||2022 NCAA POINTS||
2020 NCAA PSYCH SHEET POINTS
|Kacper Stokowski||Florida/NC State||53||9||redshirt||17||27|
|Antani Ivanov||Virginia Tech||44.5||5||—||29||10.5||11|
|Nyls Korstanje||NC State||38||9||—||redshirt||29||24|
|Cooper van der Laan||Pitt||11||—||11|
|Josh Dannhauser||Auburn/Wisconsin||5||—||5||0 (relay-only)|
|Giovanni Izzo||NC State||4||—||4|
|Lewis Burras||Virginia/South Carolina||0||—||–||7.5|
|Sem Andreis||Ohio State||0||—||3|
- Australian David Schlicht was the top international performer from this class through the 2020-21 season, having put up 22 points as a freshman and 28 as a junior at Arizona. He failed to score this past season after transferring to ASU.
- NC State’s Kacper Stokowski joined the swimmers from this class to win an NCAA title in 2022, topping the 100 back field after placing second to Shaine Casas last year. The Polish native finished the four seasons with 53 points to lead all international swimmers.
- Stokowski’s Wolfpack teammate Nyls Korstanje was dynamite this season with 29 points, earning top-five finishes in the 100 fly and 50 free while being a critical relay contributor. Having sat out of the 2020-21 season, the Dutchman has up to two years of eligibility left.
- Antani Ivanov has already found success on the international stage competing for Bulgaria, and he’s also been a top contributor for Virginia Tech, highlighted by a third-place finish in the 200 fly (and sixth in the 100 fly) at the 2021 NCAAs.
|NAME||COLLEGE TEAM||TOTAL NCAA POINTS||2019 NCAA POINTS||2020 NCAA POINTS||2021 NCAA POINTS||
2022 NCAA POINTS
|Anton Down-Jenkins||South Carolina/UNC||43||4||—||15||24|
|Jacob Fielding||Ohio State||29||3||—||13||13|
- Kiwi Olympian Anton Down-Jenkins was the class’ top diver, transferring from South Carolina to UNC after his freshman season. Down Jenkins scored 39 of his 43 NCAA points with the Tar Heels, placing fourth in the 3-meter last year and adding a pair of top-eight finishes in 2022.
- Purdue’s Ben Bramley and Tennessee’s Matthew Wade also eclipsed 30 diving points at nationals, while Ohio State’s Jacob Fielding was close at 29, having put up 13 in back-to-back championships.
ALL INDIVIDUAL SCORERS IN THE CLASS
(Ranked recruits are listed with their 2018 rank. International recruits are listed with “INTL” and unranked recruits with “NR.” Diving recruits are listed with “DIVE”)
|Final Rank||2018 Rank||Name||College Team||Total NCAA Points||2019 NCAA Points||2020 NCAA Points||2021 NCAA Points||2022 NCAA Points||
2020 NCAA Psych Sheet Points
|6||HM||Shaine Casas||Texas A&M||70||10||—||60||–||57|
|8||INTL||Kacper Stokowski||Florida/NC State||53||9||redshirt||17||27|
|10||INTL||Antani Ivanov||Virginia Tech||44.5||5||—||29||10.5||11|
|T-11||DIVE||Anton Down Jenkins||South Carolina/UNC||43||4||—||15||24|
|13||INTL||Nyls Korstanje||NC State||38||9||—||redshirt||29||24|
|T-19||DIVE||Jacob Fielding||Ohio State||29||3||—||13||13|
|26||3||Alexei Sancov||USC||18||no invite||—||18||0||6|
|T-28||NR||Jason Mathews||Ohio State||15||—||15||–||4|
|T-35||NR||Cooper van der Laan||Pitt||11||—||11|
|T-41||NR||Hudson McDaniel||Ohio State||7||—||7||0|
|T-48||NR||Michael Daly||Penn State||5||—||5||0||1|
|T-48||NR||Josh Bottelberghe||Notre Dame||5||—||5|
|T-48||INTL||Josh Dannhauser||Auburn/Wisconsin||5||—||5||0 (relay-only)|
|T-48||HM||Jack Franzman||Indiana||5||no invite||—||5||no invite|
|T-52||INTL||Giovanni Izzo||NC State||4||—||4|
|58||NR||Cooper DeRyk||Utah||2.5||—||2.5||0 (relay-only)|
|T-59||NR||Dylan Eichberg||Virginia Tech||2||—||2|
|T-59||19||Andrew Abruzzo||Georgia||2||0||—||2||no invite|
|62||14||Matthew Willenbring||Texas||0||0||—||no invite||–||16|
|63||NR||Blake Manoff||Virginia Tech||0||—||15|
|64||INTL||Lewis Burras||Virginia/South Carolina||0||—||–||7.5|
|T-66||NR||Christian Sztolcman||Auburn||0||—||0 (relay-only)||3|
|T-66||INTL||Sem Andreis||Ohio State||0||—||3|
|T-69||NR||Kyle Barone||Georgia Tech||0||—||1|
Archives: Revisiting Recruit Ranks
|Analysis as of:||Spring 2022||Spring 2021||Spring 2020||Spring 2019||Spring 2018||Spring 2017|
|Class of 2021|
|Class of 2020||After Sophomore Year|
|Class of 2019||After Junior Year||After Sophomore Year|
|Class of 2018||After Senior Year||After Junior Year||After Sophomore Year|
|Class of 2017||After Senior Year||After Junior Year||After Sophomore Year|
|Class of 2016||After Senior Year|
|Class of 2015|
|Class of 2014|
|Class of 2013|