Revisiting NCAA Recruit Rankings: Women’s High School Class of 2014

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 did last year with the first class we ever ranked, we’ll look back at the high school class of 2014, 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 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 2014. Bear in mind that this was posted in July of 2013, when these swimmers were high school juniors. Complaining about slighted swimmers is barely a scrap above useless at the time of posting, and putting on Captain Hindsight goggles and complaining now without looking up best times from July 2013 is even less enlightening than that.

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 2015 NCAA Points 2016 NCAA Points 2017 NCAA Points 2018 NCAA Points
1 Simone Manuel Stanford 169 57 56 56
2 Janet Hu Stanford 112 6 36 29 41
3 Kylie Stewart Georgia 63 16 24 5 18
4 G Ryan Michigan 65 7 18 16 24
5 Lindsey Engel Stanford 32 7 14 11
6 Jasmine Mau Cal 10 10
7 Meaghan Raab Georgia 27 5 9 6 7
8 Ally Howe Stanford 88 12 18 22 36
9 Danielle Nack Minnesota 0
10 Bethany Galat Texas A&M 137 16 37 38 46
HM Courtney Weaver Georgia 0
HM Cierra Runge Cal/Wisconsin 49 49
HM Brooke Zeiger Minnesota 39 13 26
HM Megan Kingsley Georgia 39 1 16 5 17
HM Carolyn McCann Michigan 0
HM Hannah Moore Michigan/NC State 89 29 28 32
HM Clara Smiddy Michigan 56 16 13 13 14
HM Brooke Lorentzen Minnesota 0
HM Mary Schneider Texas 0
HM Gabby Sims Harvard 0

A few big takeaways:

  • Every time we rank recruits, we get the same flood of comments about the meaninglessness of rankings, about how fast high schoolers sometimes peak too early, about how the best teams are really the ones who take no-name recruits and help them drop lots of time. But the results year after year make pretty clear that loading up on elite talent is the best way to score points at NCAAs. The majority of our top 20 recruits scored at NCAAs and scored big over their four years, and 7 of 9 NCAA champs in this class were ranked inside our top 20 as high schoolers. (The other two were a relay champ and an international).
  • This was the first year of Stanford domination in recruiting, and all four of their big recruits panned out. Simone Manuel racked up 6 individual NCAA titles. Janet Hu was 3rd in her class with 112 individual points and won a whopping 10 NCAA relay titles. Ally Howe was the only swimmer in this class outside of Manuel to win an NCAA title individually, and Lindsey Engel averaged 8 points a year at NCAAs.
  • Bethany Galat overperformed her 10th rank, scoring the 2nd-most points of any swimmer in her class. But before you bust out the pitchforks to protest our five-year-old snub, check out Galat’s lifetime-bests as of the day our rankings published: 1:00.29 in 100 breast, 2:14.05 in 200 breast, 1:59.06 in 200 IM, 4:15.17 in 400 IM.
  • Some swimmers on this list were productive without scoring individual points. Danielle Nack was an NCAA qualifier in all four years and a key relay contributor for Minnesota. Carolyn McCann was a captain and one-time NCAA qualifier for Michigan. Mary ‘Mimi’ Schneider was a relay All-American for Texas.
  • A number, though, did not finish out four years of collegiate swimming – or haven’t yet. Courtney Weaver retired after two years, battling with anxiety. Cierra Runge swam one year at Cal, sat out one season, then swam one season with Wisconsin, then left that program for Arizona State, where she could start competing in January of 2019. Brooke Lorentzen dropped off the Minnesota roster after her sophomore season.

NCAA TITLES (RELAY & INDIVIDUAL) AMONG TOP CLASS OF 2014 RECRUITS:

Swimmer Individual Relay
Simone Manuel 6 8
Ally Howe 1 7
Janet Hu 10
Noemie Thomas 2
Cierra Runge 1
Lindsey Engel 1
Meaghan Raab 1
Kylie Stewart 1
Valerie Hull 1

OTHER IMPACTFUL SWIMMERS IN THE HIGH SCHOOL RECRUITING CLASS OF 2014

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 and international 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!

INDIVIDUAL NCAA A FINAL (OR TOP 8) APPEARANCES, HIGH SCHOOL CLASS OF 2014

American

Name Team Total NCAA Points 2015 NCAA Points 2016 NCAA Points 2017 NCAA Points 2018 NCAA Points
Lisa Bratton Texas A&M 80.5 14 40.5 4 22
Sharli Brady Missouri 51 9 4 16 22
Jen Marrkand Virginia 49 1 4 16 28
Hannah Stevens Missouri 39 3 3 22 11
Caroline Baldwin UNC 35 17 18
Kaersten Meitz Purdue 28 3 4 21
Gabby DeLoof Michigan 28 13 15
Rebecca Millard Texas 27 9 13 5
Natalie Pierce FSU 15 15
Bridgette Alexander Kentucky 13 4 4 5
Ally Rockett Indiana 13 13
Caitlin Cooper Virginia 12.5 12.5
Jorie Caneta ASU/Texas A&M 12 7 5
Hannah Weiss USC 11 11
Emily Kopas Michigan 9 9
Laine Reed Virginia 6.5 6.5
Mia Nonnenberg Alabama 5 5
Bailey Scott Alabama 3.5 3.5
Kira Zubar Missouri 3 3
Leah Goldman Duke 2 2
Katie Grover UCLA 2 2
Breanna Roman Auburn 2 2
Micah Bohon Tennessee 2 2
Stephanie Peters Georgia 1 1
Kristen Malone Texas A&M 1 1

International

Name Team Total NCAA Points 2015 NCAA Points 2016 NCAA Points 2017 NCAA Points 2018 NCAA Points
Beryl Gastaldello Texas A&M 98.5 20 33 17.5 28
Noemie Thomas Cal 79 12 24 21 22
Kennedy Goss Indiana 78 17 32 28 1
Liz Li Ohio State 75 1 16 28 30
Esther Gonzalez Texas A&M 23 12 11
Haley Black WKU/Auburn 18 9 9
Klaudia Nazieblo Virginia Tech 16 12 1 3
Meg Bailey Ohio State 12 12
Franziska Weidner Hawaii 12 12
Tjasa Oder Arizona 6 6
Tayla Lovemore FSU 6 5 1
Katie Armitage Tennessee 6 6
Paloma Marrero Akron 6 6
Lina Rathsack Pitt 4 4
  • Lisa Bratton was really the only immediate-major-impact recruit left out of our top 20. The rest improved steadily over their collegiate years to rack up the points. Bratton dropped from 1:58.0 to 1:52.1 in her 200 back, 4:18 to 4:08 in her 400 IM and 2:01 to 1:56 in her 200 IM over the course of her freshman year to score in all three.
  • Missouri had two unheralded recruits score big at NCAAs all four years: Sharli Brady and Hannah Stevens. 
  • International recruits made up a big part of this class, with Beryl Gastaldello (3rd in overall points for the class) leading the way.

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Sugar

This is awesome, thank you, Jared (swimswam)!

Rick Paine

Jared, great article. We had the pleasure of working with several of these girls with recruiting, Jen Marrkand, Lisa Bratton, Kennedy Goss, Natalie Pierce and Katie Grover.

samuel huntington

Janet Hu scored 41 points this year. IDK about other years.

About Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson just can’t stay away from the pool. A competitive career of almost two decades wasn’t enough for this Minnesotan, who continues to get his daily chlorine fix. A lifelong lover of writing, Jared now combines the two passions as Senior Reporter for SwimSwam.com, covering swimming at every level. He’s an …

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