Revisiting NCAA Recruit Rankings: Women’s High School Class of 2018

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
1 Taylor Ruck Stanford 86 50 36
2 Zoe Bartel Stanford 6 6 0 1
3 Julia Cook Texas 25 2 20 3 18
4 Vanessa Pearl Florida 9 2 7 18
5 Erica Sullivan USC/Texas 33 33
6 Morgan Tankersley Stanford 25 3 0 22 27
7 Eva Merrell Georgia 0
8 Emma Muzzy NC State 28 0 12 16 21
9 Olivia Carter Georgia/Michigan 75.5 17 33 25.5 12
10 Lucie Nordmann Stanford 37 20 17 7
11 Amalie Fackenthal Stanford 4 4 0 0
12 Gabrielle Kopenski Texas A&M 0 no invite
13 Dakota Luther Georgia 46 9 16 21 16
14 Grace Ariola Texas 1 1 no invite
15 Samantha Shelton Harvard 0 0 no invite 0
16 Easop Lee Duke 0 no invite no invite 0
17 Cassidy Bayer Cal/Tennessee 2 2 no invite
18 Madison Homovich Georgia 0 0 0 no invite 0
19 Leah Braswell Florida 0 0 no invite 20
20 Allie Raab Stanford 25 21 3 1 5

Due to various circumstances, this class was full of early retirements, redshirts and transfers. As a result, only four of the top-20 scored in all three NCAA Championships over their four-year career, with six total swimmers qualifying for all three.

#7 Eva Merrell, who was ranked #1 in the class rankings during their junior year of high school, didn’t end up suiting up for Georgia and never competed in the NCAA.

The hits:

  • Taylor Ruck took an Olympic redshirt season in 2019-20 and again stayed in Canada to train for the following season after the Tokyo Games were postponed to 2021. Despite only racing in two NCAA meets, Ruck scored the most points of the top-20 over the four seasons with 86.
  • Olivia Carter transferred from Georgia to Michigan, but was a reliable scorer throughout her career, putting up double-digit points at all three of her NCAA appearances (winning the 200 fly title in 2021).
  • Dakota LutherMorgan Tankersley and Emma Muzzy got better as their careers went on, recording their highest point totals this past season.
  • Swimmers such as Julia Cook and Vanessa Pearl, plus Luther and Tankersley, were projected to score big at the 2020 NCAAs before they were canceled, but still panned out well overall.

The misses:

  • #12 Gabrielle Kopenski didn’t make Texas A&M’s SEC roster as a freshman and swam her last meet at the Art Adamson Invitational as a sophomore.
  • Cassidy Bayer dealt with injuries during her career at Cal, only making one appearance at NCAAs (scoring as a freshman) before transferring to Tennessee. Earlier this year, she said that she’s still trying to make her way back to the Volunteers team, so that story might not be fully written yet.
  • Duke’s Easop Lee was a multi-time ‘B’ finalist at the conference championships for the Blue Devils but never earned an NCAA invite. She also didn’t compete during the 2020-21 season, and did qualify for the NCAAs in 2020 before they were canceled.
  • Madison Homovich qualified for NCAAs in all but her senior year, but never scored.
  • Florida’s Leah Braswell was seeded to score 20 points at the 2020 NCAAs before the cancelation, and never ended up scoring points for the Gators at nationals.

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
Kylee Alons NC State 89.5 15.5 44 30 20
Rhyan White Alabama 86 0 48 38 51
Grace Countie UNC 73 0 35 38 6
Alexis Wenger Virginia 64 13 28 23 17
Kensey McMahon Alabama 60 12 20 28 17
Morgan Scott Indiana/Alabama 55 0 23 32 1
Riley Gaines Kentucky 29.5 no invite 12 17.5 0
Noelle Peplowski Indiana 29 13 15 1 24
Sally Tafuto Ohio State 21 no invite 21 0 0
Sophie Sorenson Kentucky 20 0 16 4 4
Izzy Gati Kentucky 20 0 20 0 18
Sophie Lindner UNC 17 0 8 9 0
Mac Looze Indiana 13 4 0 9 1
Alena Kraus Louisville 12 3 7 2 0
Tara Vovk Northwestern 11 no invite no invite 11 no invite
Megan Keil Missouri 11 no invite 9 2 0
Kaki Christensen Virginia 11 11
Kaylee Wheeler Louisville 7 0 7 0 5
Aria Bernal Arizona 5 0 0 5 2
Vanessa Hermann Arkansas 5 no invite 0 5 no invite
Emily Crane Ohio State 5 no invite 5 0 no invite
Jessica Nava Virginia 5 0 2 3 0
Claire Grover UCLA 4 0 0 4 0
Bayley Stewart Notre Dame/Tennessee 3 0 3 0 no invite
Sinclair Larson Tennessee 2 2 no invite
Emily Hetzer Auburn 2 2 0 0 6
Trude Rothrock Tennessee 1 no invite 1 0 6
Susan Lagrand Oakland 1 no invite 1 no invite no invite
Sydney Harrington U.S. Navy 1 no invite 1 0 0
Lillie Hosack Wisconsin 0 0 0 0 5
Hallie Kinsey South Carolina/USC 0 0 0 no invite 5
Victoria Kwan Michigan 0 no invite 0 0 3
Audrey Reimer Utah 0 no invite 0 3
Callie Dickinson Georgia 0 0 0 0 2

Standouts:

  • NC State’s Kylee Alons was well-rounded coming out of high school and earned Honorable Mention status in our re-rank, right on the cusp of cracking the top-20. She broke out as a freshman in college, earning an NCAA ‘A’ final berth in the 50 free, and slowly drifted away from backstroke and focused on sprint free and fly over her career with the Wolfpack. In addition to scoring 89.5 NCAA points over three championship meets, she was also a crucial relay asset and was a two-time ACC champ in the 50 free.
  • Rhyan White really hit her stride with Alabama as a sophomore, sweeping the women’s backstroke events at SECs before nationals were canceled. She proceeded to score 86 NCAA points in her junior and senior seasons with the Crimson Tide, earning a pair of fourth-place finishes at the Olympics in between.
  • This class ended up being a gold mine for Alabama, with Kensey McMahonKalia Antoniou (see below in the international section) and IU transfer Morgan Scott joining White in putting up big NCAA points over the past two seasons. The four of them combined to score 107 points in 2022, the highest total for the senior classes by a wide margin.
  • Like White, UNC’s Grace Countie didn’t immediately make an NCAA impact, but really took off on the back-half of her career by going six-for-six in individual finals swims at NCAAs (five in the ‘A’ final).
  • Alexis Wenger hit a best time of 1:00.02 in her freshman year of high school and didn’t better it until she got to Virginia (she initially verbally committed to Michigan). Once she arrived in Charlottesville, Wenger immediately started getting back to her PBs, ultimately scoring in all three NCAA Championship meets and coming within a few one-hundredths of an individual national title in the 100 breast as a senior. She played a critical role on two NCAA team championship titles for the Cavaliers.
  • Kentucky reaped the rewards of this class with Riley Gaines, Sophie Sorenson and Izzy Gati all having prominent careers.

INTERNATIONAL

Note: Though Taylor Ruck is Canadian, she came up through the U.S. club system and that’s why she’s in the top-20 rankings and not international.

Name College Team Total NCAA Points 2019 NCAA Points 2020 NCAA points 2021 NCAA Points 2022 NCAA Points
2020 NCAA Psych Sheet Points
Maggie MacNeil Michigan 141 45 57 39 50
Sophie Hansson NC State 104 32 40 32 40
Kalia Antoniou Alabama 36 no invite 27 9
Anna Hopkin Arkansas 31 31 49
Alicia Wilson Cal 16 0 16 0 16
Ema Rajic Cal 14 11 3 0 1
Ida Hulkko FSU 14 14
Laticia-Leigh Transom USC 12 0 12 21
Sophie Angus Northwestern 12 no invite no invite 12 6
Sarah Watson Akron 9 6 3 0 no invite
Miriam Guevara Northwestern 4 0 4 0 0

Standouts:

  • Maggie MacNeil was the undisputed top swimmer of the class overall, winning a pair of national titles in the 100 fly and adding a third in the 100 free last season. The Canadian Olympic gold medalist scored 141 individual points for Michigan in three NCAA meets and was seeded to score 50 in 2020.
  • NC State’s Sophie Hansson followed in sister Louise’s footsteps in having a very successful NCAA career, scoring 104 points which were highlighted by a sweep of the breaststroke events in 2021.
  • Antoniou, as referenced earlier, was a sprint star for Alabama, as was Anna Hopkin for Arkansas. Hopkin scored big in her one NCAA appearance for the Razorbacks in 2019, and was projected to score 49 points in 2020 before her NCAA career was abruptly ended due to the cancelation. Due to her experience in Great Britain, the 2019-20 season was her last of NCAA eligibility.
  • Due to the pandemic, several of these international swimmers sat out of the 2020-21 season due to travel restrictions and therefore only had two NCAA Championship opportunities over their four-year careers.

DIVING

Name College Team Total NCAA Points 2019 NCAA Points 2020 NCAA points 2021 NCAA Points 2022 NCAA Points
Paola Pineda Texas 68 42 26
Maggie Merriman Purdue 29 15 14
Carolina Sculti Stanford 20 8 12
Kyndal Knight Kentucky 19 4 6 9
Daria Lenz Stanford 13 10 3
Maha Gouda FIU 11 11
Aimee Wilson LSU 4 4
Maddison Pullinger Duke 2 2

Standouts:

  • Texas’ Paola Pineda was the clear top diver in this class, combining for 68 NCAA points over the past two seasons to help propel the Longhorns to back-to-back top-three finishes in the team race. The Mexican native was also one spot outside of scoring in the platform event as a freshman.
  • Purdue’s Maggie Merriman had a strong career for the Boilermakers, as did Stanford’s Carolina Sculti for the Cardinal. Sculti opted out of the 2020-21 season and therefore only dove at NCAAs twice.

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
1 INTL Maggie MacNeil Michigan 141 45 57 39 50
2 INTL Sophie Hansson NC State 104 32 40 32 40
3 NR Kylee Alons NC State 89.5 15.5 44 30 20
T-4 NR Rhyan White Alabama 86 0 48 38 51
T-4 1 Taylor Ruck Stanford 86 50 36
6 9 Olivia Carter Georgia/Michigan 75.5 17 33 25.5 12
7 NR Grace Countie UNC 73 0 35 38 6
8 DIVE Paola Pineda Texas 68 42 26
9 NR Alexis Wenger Virginia 64 13 28 23 17
10 NR Kensey McMahon Alabama 60 12 20 28 17
11 NR Morgan Scott Indiana/Alabama 55 0 23 32 1
12 13 Dakota Luther Georgia 46 9 16 21 16
13 10 Lucie Nordmann Stanford 37 20 17 7
14 INTL Kalia Antoniou Alabama 36 no invite 27 9
15 5 Erica Sullivan USC/Texas 33 33
16 INTL Anna Hopkin Arkansas 31 31 49
17 NR Riley Gaines Kentucky 29.5 no invite 12 17.5 0
T-18 NR Noelle Peplowski Indiana 29 13 15 1 24
T-18 DIVE Maggie Merriman Purdue 29 15 14
20 8 Emma Muzzy NC State 28 0 12 16 21
T-21 3 Julia Cook Texas 25 2 20 3 18
T-21 6 Morgan Tankersley Stanford 25 3 0 22 27
T-21 20 Allie Raab Stanford 25 21 3 1 5
24 NR Sally Tafuto Ohio State 21 no invite 21 0 0
T-25 DIVE Carolina Sculti Stanford 20 8 12
T-25 NR Sophie Sorenson Kentucky 20 0 16 4 4
T-25 NR Izzy Gati Kentucky 20 0 20 0 18
28 DIVE Kyndal Knight Kentucky 19 4 6 9
29 NR Sophie Lindner UNC 17 0 8 9 0
30 INTL Alicia Wilson Cal 16 0 16 0 16
T-31 INTL Ema Rajic Cal 14 11 3 0 1
T-31 INTL Ida Hulkko FSU 14 14
T-33 NR Mac Looze Indiana 13 4 0 9 1
T-33 DIVE Daria Lenz Stanford 13 10 3
T-35 NR Alena Kraus Louisville 12 3 7 2 0
T-35 INTL Laticia-Leigh Transom USC 12 0 12 21
T-35 INTL Sophie Angus Northwestern 12 no invite no invite 12 6
T-38 NR Tara Vovk Northwestern 11 no invite no invite 11 no invite
T-38 NR Megan Keil Missouri 11 no invite 9 2 0
T-38 NR Kaki Christensen Virginia 11 11
T-38 DIVE Maha Gouda FIU 11 11
T-42 INTL Sarah Watson Akron 9 6 3 0 no invite
T-42 4 Vanessa Pearl Florida 9 2 7 18
44 NR Kaylee Wheeler Louisville 7 0 7 0 5
45 2 Zoe Bartel Stanford 6 6 0 1
T-46 NR Aria Bernal Arizona 5 0 0 5 2
T-46 NR Vanessa Hermann Arkansas 5 no invite 0 5 no invite
T-46 NR Emily Crane Ohio State 5 no invite 5 0 no invite
T-46 NR Jessica Nava Virginia 5 0 2 3 0
T-50 NR Claire Grover UCLA 4 0 0 4 0
T-50 11 Amalie Fackenthal Stanford 4 4 0 0
T-50 DIVE Aimee Wilson LSU 4 4
T-50 INTL Miriam Guevara Northwestern 4 0 4 0 0
54 NR Bayley Stewart Notre Dame/Tennessee 3 0 3 0 no invite
T-55 NR Sinclair Larson Tennessee 2 2 no invite
T-55 NR Emily Hetzer Auburn 2 2 0 0 6
T-55 17 Cassidy Bayer Cal/Tennessee 2 2 no invite
T-55 DIVE Maddison Pullinger Duke 2 2
T-59 14 Grace Ariola Texas 1 1 no invite
T-59 NR Trude Rothrock Tennessee 1 no invite 1 0 6
T-59 NR Susan Lagrand Oakland 1 no invite 1 no invite no invite
T-59 NR Sydney Harrington U.S. Navy 1 no invite 1 0 0
63 19 Leah Braswell Florida 0 0 no invite 20
T-64 NR Lillie Hosack Wisconsin 0 0 0 0 5
T-64 NR Hallie Kinsey South Carolina/USC 0 0 0 no invite 5
T-64 NR Victoria Kwan Michigan 0 no invite 0 0 3
T-64 NR Audrey Reimer Utah 0 no invite 0 3
68 NR Callie Dickinson Georgia 0 0 0 0 2

BONUS: THE SUPER SENIORS

We usually like to run through the top seniors who don’t technically fit with this class. The main one this season was Cal’s Izzy Ivey, who joined the Cal Bears a semester early and therefore swam the same NCAA meets as everyone in the high class of 2018. Ivey scored 120 points in her three NCAA appearances, which would’ve ranked second to Maggie MacNeil if she was factored into this class.

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

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Go95Vols
3 months ago

“Kentucky reaped the rewards of this class” doesn’t really reflect how well Lars and staff develops talent. Riley, Izzy and Sophie are top notch swimmers that got better at Kentucky like Asia, Tina Bechtel and the Gayler sisters, plus many more. Every year the Wildcats get overshadowed by teams with more outstanding recruiting classes. It would be great to see how UK rates in the past 5-6 years recruiting versus performance compared to others. My guess, they are consistently producing above expectations. More top talented recruits need to consider Kentucky to help them continue to improve.

Raul Rodriquez
3 months ago

Seems this yearly article will just upset swimmers and parents. Maybe it’s time to retire this yearly article.

Ledecky forever
Reply to  Raul Rodriquez
2 months ago

No.

Sherry Smit
3 months ago

When will HS recruit rankings come out?

wolfensf
3 months ago

It is not entirely fair to not consider the relay impact since that is included in the initial rankings of swimmers.

John Hueth
3 months ago

Easop Lee was VERY underwhelming.

ArtVanDeLegh10
3 months ago

Makes you wonder how important it is to get the top recruits. 6 of the top 10 non diver point scorers weren’t ranked recruits coming out of high school.

PancakeLover
Reply to  ArtVanDeLegh10
3 months ago

This class was a little different but looking back the previous 4 classes before it, having a recruit in the top 10 was a good chance that they were going to be a consistent contributor, but the ranks 10-20 were very hit or miss.

Hannah
3 months ago

If Taylor Ruck doesn’t doesn’t count as an international swimmer because she swam in the US, how come Ema Rajic does? She won both the 200 IM and 100 Breaststroke at the IHSA state championship her junior and senior years of high school.

dave
3 months ago

I’m confused! Taylor Ruck is a Red Shirt Junior, did she graduate Stanford in 2022or will she be back and swimming in 2023? How many of those mentioned will be back next year? MacNeil is going to Cal for a masters next year, how many listed above will still be swimming and providing valuable points for their teams?

About James Sutherland

James Sutherland

James swam five years at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, specializing in the 200 free, back and IM. He finished up his collegiate swimming career in 2018, graduating with a bachelor's degree in economics. In 2019 he completed his graduate degree in sports journalism. Prior to going to Laurentian, James swam …

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