Revisiting NCAA Recruit Rankings: Women’s High School Class of 2020

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 2020, 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!

2024 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 2020. For the sake of being the most accurate in terms of gauging a swimmer’s pre-college ability, we’re using the re-ank of the class after their senior year of high school rather than the original ranks from their junior seasons.

Here’s a look at our top 20 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 2021 NCAA Points 2022 NCAA Points 2023 NCAA Points 2024 NCAA Points
1 Regan Smith Stanford 52.5 defer 52.5 pro pro
2 Alex Walsh Virginia 221 48 60 53 60
3 Phoebe Bacon Wisconsin 179 51 33 46 49
4 Olivia Bray Texas 142 30 34 42 36
5 Isabelle Stadden Cal 118 30 27 29 32
6 Lillie Nordmann Stanford 42 defer 17 9 16
7 Kaitlyn Dobler USC 89 23 20 17 29
8 Abby Arens NC State 19 0 17 2
9 Emma Sticklen Texas 134.5 18 27 46.5 43
10 Anna Keating Virginia 37.5 0 14.5 12 11
11 Emma Weyant Virginia/Florida 113 defer 32 33 48
12 Tristen Ulett Louisville 16 0 10 6 0
13 Abby Harter Virginia 55 18 12 12 13
14 Gabi Albiero Louisville 116 5 35.5 44.5 31
15 Janelle Rudolph Stanford 0 0 no invite no invite
16 Chase Travis Virginia Tech 3 0 3 0 0
17 Kathryn Ackerman Michigan 14 12 0 2
18 Samantha Pearson Stanford 0 defer no invite
19 Katherine Zenick Ohio State 39 0 7 24 8
20 Maxine Parker Georgia/Virginia 46 10 23.5 12.5
HM Paige Hetrick Louisville 31 0 5 18 8
HM Emma Atkinson Virginia Tech 47 21 19 7 relay-only
HM Isabel Gormley Stanford 0 0 no invite
HM Megan Deuel Notre Dame 0 0 no invite no invite no invite
HM Nicole Oliva Cal 0 no invite
HM Ella Ristic Indiana 0 0 0 relay-only relay-only
HM Chloe Stepanek Texas A&M 59 26 1 16 16

The Hits:

  • If we had to rank the swimmers again, there’s an argument that the top five would go unchanged. Regan Smith was going to be #1 regardless of any forecasting of the possibility of her turning pro early, and Alex Walsh has clearly solidified herself as the class’ top scorer over four years by a landslide with 221 points—that’s an average of 55.25 points or two titles and one 3-4 finish per NCAAs individually.
  • Phoebe Bacon at #3 was another slam-dunk hit, as she won national titles in the 200 back as a freshman and a senior and was a key point scorer for Wisconsin throughout her career. #4 Olivia Bray and #5 Isabelle Stadden also had standout careers, consistently scoring between 27 and 42 points for their teams while also contributing on relays.
  • We also saw #9 Emma Sticklen progress into a multi-time NCAA champion over the course of her career, starting off with 18 points as a freshman and then having back-to-back 40+ point seasons that included consecutive 200 fly titles as an upperclassman.
  • Outside of the top 10, Emma Weyant was ranked 11th and managed to surpass 100 points despite deferring her enrollment for a year, peaking with 48 points and a pair of runner-up finishes this past season.
  • Gabi Albiero also eclipsed 100 points for Louisville and was a driving force behind their relays, following a five-point freshman season with an average of 37 over the following three campaigns.
  • 7th-ranked Kaitlyn Dobler wasn’t a monstrous point scorer relative to some of her peers, but still put up 89 as a breaststroker, making four straight ‘A’ finals in the 100 breast and winning the title in 2022.
  • Virginia got consistent contributions from Anna Keating and Abby Harter throughout their careers along with Walsh and one season from Weyant, while Maxine Parker transferred from Georgia and served a crucial role for the Cavaliers as well.
  • Other notable performers among our ranked recruits were #19 Katherine Zenick and Honorable Mentions Chloe StepanekEmma Atkinson and Paige Hetrick.

The Misses:

  • Only two of our top 20 recruits didn’t score in four years, both Stanford commits.
  • Janelle Rudolph only qualified for NCAAs in her freshman year, and was ranked 15th primarily for her versatility. She never quite managed to take the next step to challenge for NCAA scoring in any one specific event, save perhaps the 100 back where she broke 52 in 2021.
  • Not technically a miss is Samantha Pearson, who joined Regan Smith and Lillie Nordmann in deferring her enrollment for a year. She made NCAAs in her first season in 2022, but a medical condition got in the way of her progression, though she raced through the 2024 Pac-12s and had second swims in both backstroke events.
  • Chase Travis maybe didn’t live up to her recruiting ranking from an NCAA scoring perspective for Virginia Tech, but was a consistent contributor at the conference championship level in the distance freestyle events, including a runner-up finish in the mile in 2022.
  • Four Honorable Mention recruits didn’t end up scoring.

OTHER IMPACTFUL RECRUITS IN THE HIGH SCHOOL CLASS OF 2020

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.

Rank Name College Team Total NCAA Points 2021 NCAA Points 2022 NCAA Points 2023 NCAA Points 2024 NCAA Points
Early ’21 (#12) Reilly Tiltmann Virginia 90 23 37 18 12
BOTR Sarah Foley Duke 46 22 20 4
BOTR Lola Mull Northwestern 30 11 19 0
BOTR Megan Van Berkom Minnesota 33 6 13 14
Maya Geringer Ohio State 20 3 9 3 5
Meghan Lee Auburn 20 no invite 0 5 15
Aly Breslin Tennessee 19 no invite 0 13 6
Caroline Bentz Virginia Tech 15 0 0 3 12
BOTR Liberty Williams Louisville 13 4 9
BOTR Grace Cooper Texas 9 relay-only relay-only 0 9
Caroline Famous USC 9 no invite relay-only 9
Callahan Dunn Wisconsin 3 no invite no invite no invite 3
BOTR Amanda Ray Florida 3 3 0 no invite
Olivia Theall Texas A&M 3 no invite 0 0 3
Sophie Housey Michigan 2.5 2.5 no invite
Elle Braun Wisconsin 1 no invite 0 no invite 1
Anna Havens Rice Kentucky 1 1 0 no invite no invite

Standouts:

  • The only reason Reilly Tiltmann wasn’t a member of the ranked recruits in this class is because she graduated early and was an original member of the high school class of 2021. Tiltmann, ranked 12th in the 2021 class rankings, joined Virginia one semester early and seamlessly slotted in to score 23 points as an extra-young freshman. She put up a total of 90 over four seasons, highlighted by a 37-point sophomore season that included a pair of 5th-place showings in the backstroke events.
  • Sarah Foley was a standout for Duke during her career, particularly in her sophomore and junior seasons when she combined for 42 of her 46 points. A 200 IM NCAA ‘A’ finalist in both 2022 and 2023, Foley was also a relay force for the Blue Devils, and would be much more decorated at the conference level if she didn’t share the ACC with UVA during their dynasty.
  • Lola Mull only swam three seasons at Northwestern—she entered the transfer portal last July but didn’t end up competing in 2023-24—but put up 30 points between her first two years. Eighth in the 1650 as a freshman, she moved up to 7th in 2022 and was also a consolation finalist in the 500.
  • Minnesota’s Megan van Berkom, Auburn’s Meghan Lee and Virginia Tech’s Caroline Bentz were among the swimmers who came into their own as their careers progressed. Van Berkom put up 27 of her 33 points over her last two seasons, while Lee and Bentz both hit double-digit points for the first time as seniors.
  • Grace Cooper and Caroline Famous also had breakthrough performances as seniors, scoring for the first time. Famous’ nine points came after she qualified individually for NCAAs for the first time.

INTERNATIONAL

Name College Team Total NCAA Points 2021 NCAA Points 2022 NCAA Points 2023 NCAA Points 2024 NCAA Points
Mona McSharry Tennessee 113 31 15 33 34
Anna Elendt Texas 107 14 31 33 29
Avery Wiseman Alabama 39 defer 22 4 13
Emily Gantriis Cal 10 10 relay-only no invite
Nicole Maier Miami (OH) 15 no invite 0 9 6
Amalie Mortensen Arizona 2.5 2.5 no invite
Yara Hierath NC State 1 1 0 no invite
Maddy Gatrall Akron 1 no invite no invite 1 0

Standouts:

  • The international class is headlined by two breaststroke stars, as Anna Elendt (GER) and Mona McSharry (IRL) were two of nine swimmers in the class who scored 100 or more points in four seasons. Elendt has finished in the top five of both breaststroke events at NCAAs over the past three seasons, finishing as high as 2nd, while McSharry has three 30+ point seasons and three runner-up finishes individually—including both breast events in 2024.
  • Canadian Avery Wiseman had her most impactful season for Alabama in 2022, her first campaign after deferring her first year of eligibility, though she scored in all three seasons.
  • Germany’s Nicole Maier was one of two mid-major swimmers to score in this class, putting up 15 points over the last two seasons at Miami (Ohio).
  • Italian Jasmine Nocentini was not part of this class, having started her collegiate career during the 2019-20 season at FIU. However, after spending time at Northwestern, being poised to score before an injury forced her out of NCAAs last season, she transferred to UVA and got on the board for the first time in 2024, putting up 51 points including winning the national title in the 100 breast. We’re mentioning Nocentini here as she wasn’t mentioned in the class of 2019 edition of this article last year as she was yet to score.

DIVING

Name College Team Total NCAA Points 2021 NCAA Points 2022 NCAA Points 2023 NCAA Points 2024 NCAA Points
Aranza Vazquez Montano UNC 145 47 31 47 40
Tarrin Gilliland Indiana 78 31 47
Montserrat Lavenant LSU 77 9 7 17 34
Anne Fowler Indiana 55 15 5 17 18
Else Praasterink Louisville 44 7 22 15
Bridget O’Neil Texas 34 6 28
Emma Gullstrand Miami 31 24 7
Samantha Vear FSU 9 7 2
Melissa Mirafuentes Nevada 5 5 0
Ciara McGing Ohio State 5 0 0 0 5
Anna Bradescu Georgia Tech 2 2 0 0
Meghan Wenzel Georgia 2 no invite 0 0 2

Standouts:

  • Aranza Vazquez Montano has amassed a staggering 145 points in four seasons at UNC, highlighted by consecutive sweeps of the springboard events in her junior and senior seasons. The Tokyo Olympian established herself as a force to be reckoned with by scoring 47 points as a freshman and never slowed down. Her 40-point performance as a senior was more than half of UNC’s total score, and without her, the Tar Heels would’ve slid from 17th to 21st.
  • Injury has resulted in Indiana’s Tarrin Gilliland only being able to compete in her freshman and sophomore seasons, but she was a bonafide star and still managed 78 points, winning back-to-back platform titles.
  • The Hoosiers also got key contributions from Anne Fowler, including a career-high 18 points in her senior year.
  • LSU’s Montserrat Lavenant had a big senior year that included a runner-up finish on platform, scoring 34 points to bring her four-year tally up to 77. Lavenant scored every year, but two-thirds of her points came in her upperclass seasons.
  • Louisville’s Else Praasterink and Texas’ Bridget O’Neil also got better as their careers went on, with O’Neil scoring the vast majority of her points in 2024 and Praasterink scoring 37 of her 44 points in her junior and senior years.
  • Similar to Nocentini in swimming, UCLA’s Savana Trueb scored for the first time as a fifth-year, putting up two points.

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 2020 RANK NAME COLLEGE TEAM TOTAL NCAA POINTS 2021 NCAA POINTS 2022 NCAA POINTS 2023 NCAA POINTS
2024 NCAA POINTS
1 2 Alex Walsh Virginia 221 48 60 53 60
2 3 Phoebe Bacon Wisconsin 179 51 33 46 49
3 DIVE Aranza Vazquez Montano UNC 145 47 31 47 40
4 4 Olivia Bray Texas 142 30 34 42 36
5 9 Emma Sticklen Texas 134.5 18 27 46.5 43
6 5 Isabelle Stadden Cal 118 30 27 29 32
7 14 Gabi Albiero Louisville 116 5 35.5 44.5 31
8 11 Emma Weyant Virginia/Florida 113 defer 32 33 48
8 INTL Mona McSharry Tennessee 113 31 15 33 34
10 INTL Anna Elendt Texas 107 14 31 33 29
11 Early ’21 (#12) Reilly Tiltmann Virginia 90 23 37 18 12
12 7 Kaitlyn Dobler USC 89 23 20 17 29
13 DIVE Tarrin Gilliland Indiana 78 31 47
14 DIVE Montserrat Lavenant LSU 77 9 7 17 34
15 HM Chloe Stepanek Texas A&M 59 26 1 16 16
16 13 Abby Harter Virginia 55 18 12 12 13
16 DIVE Anne Fowler Indiana 55 15 5 17 18
18 1 Regan Smith Stanford 52.5 defer 52.5 pro pro
19 HM Emma Atkinson Virginia Tech 47 21 19 7 relay-only
20 20 Maxine Parker Georgia/Virginia 46 10 0 23.5 12.5
21 BOTR Sarah Foley Duke 46 22 20 4
22 DIVE Else Praasterink Louisville 44 7 22 15
23 6 Lillie Nordmann Stanford 42 defer 17 9 16
24 19 Katherine Zenick Ohio State 39 0 7 24 8
24 INTL Avery Wiseman Alabama 39 defer 22 4 13
26 10 Anna Keating Virginia 37.5 0 14.5 12 11
27 DIVE Bridget O’Neil Texas 34 6 28
28 BOTR Megan Van Berkom Minnesota 33 6 13 14
29 HM Paige Hetrick Louisville 31 0 5 18 8
29 DIVE Emma Gullstrand Miami 31 24 7
31 BOTR Lola Mull Northwestern 30 11 19 0
32 NR Maya Geringer Ohio State 20 3 9 3 5
32 NR Meghan Lee Auburn 20 no invite 0 5 15
34 8 Abby Arens NC State 19 0 17 2
34 NR Aly Breslin Tennessee 19 no invite 0 13 6
36 12 Tristen Ulett Louisville 16 0 10 6 0
37 NR Caroline Bentz Virginia Tech 15 0 0 3 12
37 INTL Nicole Maier Miami (OH) 15 no invite 0 9 6
39 17 Kathryn Ackerman Michigan 14 12 0 2
40 BOTR Liberty Williams Louisville 13 4 9
41 INTL Emily Gantriis Cal 10 10 relay-only no invite
42 BOTR Grace Cooper Texas 9 relay-only relay-only 0 9
42 NR Caroline Famous USC 9 no invite relay-only 9
42 DIVE Samantha Vear FSU 9 7 2
45 DIVE Melissa Mirafuentes Nevada 5 5 0
45 DIVE Ciara McGing Ohio State 5 0 0 0 5
47 16 Chase Travis Virginia Tech 3 0 3 0 0
47 NR Callahan Dunn Wisconsin 3 no invite no invite no invite 3
47 BOTR Amanda Ray Florida 3 3 0 no invite
47 Olivia Theall Texas A&M 3 no invite 0 0 3
51 NR Sophie Housey Michigan 2.5 2.5 no invite
51 INTL Amalie Mortensen Arizona 2.5 2.5 no invite
53 DIVE Anna Bradescu Georgia Tech 2 2 0 0
53 DIVE Meghan Wenzel Georgia 2 no invite 0 0 2
55 NR Elle Braun Wisconsin 1 no invite 0 no invite 1
55 NR Anna Havens Rice Kentucky 1 1 0 no invite no invite
55 INTL Yara Hierath NC State 1 1 0 no invite
55 INTL Maddy Gatrall Akron 1 no invite no invite 1 0

ARCHIVES: REVISITING RECRUIT RANKS

ANALYSIS AS OF: SPRING 2024 SPRING 2023 SPRING 2022 SPRING 2021 SPRING 2020 SPRING 2019 SPRING 2018 SPRING 2017
Class of 2023
Class of 2022 After Sophomore Year
Class of 2021 After Junior Year After Sophomore Year
Class of 2020 After Senior Year After Junior Year After Sophomore Year
Class of 2019 After Senior Year 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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bubbles
2 months ago

hey swimswam, just wondering how bentz became a member of class of 2020 when she was a hm for the class of 2019?

Last edited 2 months ago by bubbles
Ranger Coach
2 months ago

That class was absolutely loaded.

How many are going to take their COVID years? Also, looking at the defers, could some of them still have two years left?

I miss the ISL (Go dawgs)
2 months ago

Still a little upset Maxine Parker left UGA, she would be very useful for us now :'( It might have been because of Jack retiring, if I had to guess. He’s the one who recruited her. He announced his retirement after she left but methinks the team definitely knew ahead of time.

ACC fan
Reply to  I miss the ISL (Go dawgs)
2 months ago

Maxine wouldn’t have swum as fast if she had stayed at UGA. She got some of the Desorbo magic.

Sherry Smit
2 months ago

what are the odds of Alex taking a 5th year? Also now that Regan Smith is in the transfer portal, does that mean she still has 3 years of eligibility left…?

Weinstein-Smith-Ledecky-Sims
Reply to  Sherry Smit
2 months ago

How many NCAA Division I women’s swimming programs have won five titles in row?

A chance to make history!

The Drive for Five!
One for the Thumb!

Alex can’t leave lil sis out in the cold.

Swamtoday
Reply to  Weinstein-Smith-Ledecky-Sims
2 months ago

Out in the cold with Claire Curzan, Leah Hayes, Anna Moesch on the way in🥶🥶🥶

Anon
Reply to  Weinstein-Smith-Ledecky-Sims
2 months ago

Hate to give an aneurism , but STANFORD – 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996

Nonrevhoofan
Reply to  Sherry Smit
2 months ago

5 years to complete 4. Deferred year doesn’t count I don’t think. She does not qualify for Covid year because she didn’t swim in 2020-21. Two years max (assuming she overcomes the professional issue).

1anda2
2 months ago

Olivia Theall (TAMU) scored 3 points at this year’s meet. Same A&M class as Stepanek.

Weinstein-Smith-Ledecky-Sims
2 months ago

The high school class of 2020 marks the beginning of the end of Greg Meehan.

Mott
Reply to  Weinstein-Smith-Ledecky-Sims
2 months ago

What did Meehan ever do to you…

Anon
Reply to  Mott
2 months ago

Nothing. Just someone to attack because she couldn’t get into Stanford.

Weinstein-Smith-Ledecky-Sims
Reply to  Mott
2 months ago

Upon conclusion of the Tokyo Olympics, Stanford University women’s swimming program witnessed the departures of Katie Ledecky and Simone Manuel. Furthermore, the Stanford University women’s swimming program have subsequenty seen the departures of following female athletes:

Smith, Regan
Curzan, Claire
Tuck, Taylor

In addition, Brooke Forde decided not to pursue a professional career in swimming.

Some genius!

Ranger Coach
Reply to  Weinstein-Smith-Ledecky-Sims
2 months ago

Brooke Forde decided to join the Peace Corps after qualifying for the Olympics, winning a silver medal, and graduating with two Stanford degrees. She was also the highest NCAA scorer in her recruiting class and the only one to score more than 100 points (Paige Madden was second with 98 and only Evie Pfeiffer scored more than 80). Forde didn’t want to swim professionally and wanted to do other things with her life. She is now in Peru helping others. In her mind, she accomplished everything she wanted to in her career. Why are you criticizing Meehan for his swimmers wanting to make a positive impact in the world?

JimSwim22
Reply to  Ranger Coach
2 months ago

That’s awesome

Ranger Coach
Reply to  JimSwim22
2 months ago

Thank you. W-S-L-S seems to have a grudge against Meehan for some reason and needed a rebuke.

Ranger Coach
Reply to  JimSwim22
1 month ago

I was watching Kyle Sockwell’s podcast with Bobby Finke, and Finke said that he reads the Swim Swam comments. He said that W-S-L-S talks crap about him all the time in the comments. Finke found it funny that W-S-L-S hates him that much.

Greg
2 months ago

Reilly Tiltmann is classified as a 3rd year at UVA, class of 2025 graduation.

Weinstein-Smith-Ledecky-Sims
Reply to  Greg
2 months ago

Reilly is listed as a junior on the University of Virginia website.

https://virginiasports.com/sports/swimming/roster/

Greg
Reply to  Weinstein-Smith-Ledecky-Sims
2 months ago

That’s literally what I just said. Your point?

Admin
Reply to  Greg
2 months ago

He doesn’t ever have a point.

wethorn
2 months ago

Point totals for Elendt and McSharry are wrong, fyi.

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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