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
|8||Emma Muzzy||NC State||28||0||–||12||16||21|
|12||Gabrielle Kopenski||Texas A&M||0||no invite||–||–||–||–|
|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|
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.
- 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 Luther, Morgan 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.
- #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|
|Riley Gaines||Kentucky||29.5||no invite||–||12||17.5||0|
|Sally Tafuto||Ohio State||21||no invite||–||21||0||0|
|Tara Vovk||Northwestern||11||no invite||–||no invite||11||no invite|
|Megan Keil||Missouri||11||no invite||–||9||2||0|
|Vanessa Hermann||Arkansas||5||no invite||–||0||5||no invite|
|Emily Crane||Ohio State||5||no invite||–||5||0||no invite|
|Bayley Stewart||Notre Dame/Tennessee||3||0||–||3||0||no invite|
|Sinclair Larson||Tennessee||2||2||–||–||–||no invite|
|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|
|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|
- 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 McMahon, Kalia 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.
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
|Sophie Hansson||NC State||104||32||–||40||32||40|
|Kalia Antoniou||Alabama||36||no invite||–||27||9||–|
|Sophie Angus||Northwestern||12||no invite||–||no invite||12||6|
|Sarah Watson||Akron||9||6||–||3||0||no invite|
- 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.
|Name||College Team||Total NCAA Points||2019 NCAA Points||2020 NCAA points||2021 NCAA Points||2022 NCAA Points|
- 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
|2||INTL||Sophie Hansson||NC State||104||32||–||40||32||40|
|3||NR||Kylee Alons||NC State||89.5||15.5||–||44||30||20|
|14||INTL||Kalia Antoniou||Alabama||36||no invite||–||27||9||–|
|17||NR||Riley Gaines||Kentucky||29.5||no invite||–||12||17.5||0|
|20||8||Emma Muzzy||NC State||28||0||–||12||16||21|
|24||NR||Sally Tafuto||Ohio State||21||no invite||–||21||0||0|
|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-42||INTL||Sarah Watson||Akron||9||6||–||3||0||no invite|
|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|
|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||17||Cassidy Bayer||Cal/Tennessee||2||2||–||no invite||–||–|
|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||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|
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|