Ruard van Renen, the Top Mid-Major Scorer at Men’s NCAAs, Enters Transfer Portal

The top scoring mid-major swimmer at the 2023 NCAA Men’s Swimming & Diving Championships is in the market for a new program for next season.

Ruard van Renen, a South African freshman at Southern Illinois University, entered the NCAA Transfer Portal on Wednesday.

Van Renen burst into public view on the first day of the 2023 MAC Championships, where he swam a 44.89 in the 100-yard backstroke in a time trial – the fastest time ever by a MAC swimmer.

He carried that success through to the NCAA Championships, where he finished 9th in the 100 backstroke (44.67) in a new conference record  and 13th in the 200 back (1:40.22).

Those 13 points were SIU’s first at the NCAA Championship meet since 1995. That ranked the Salukis 28th overall at the meet. He matched Princeton’s Raunak Khosla as the highest scorer at the meet outside of the Power 5 conferences.

Best Times in Yards:

  • 50 free – 19.99
  • 100 free – 44.14
  • 100 back – 44.67
  • 200 back – 1:39.73
  • 100 fly – 46.10

Last year, before coming to Southern Illinois, van Renen was the runner-up at South Africa’s Short Course National Championship meet in the 100 backstroke. His 54.37 put him about three seconds behind the Commonwealth Games champion Pieter Coetze.

Van Renen was also 2nd to Coetze in the 50 back at that meet (24.41).

Southern Illinois assistant coach Johno Fergusson is also from South Africa.

“Where do I start with my time at SIU?” Van Renen told SwimSwam on Wednesday. “SIU at its coaches treated me very well, welcomed me with loving arms. The friends and connections I made whilst being at SIU will never be forgotten and I plan on keeping those people along on my journey to success as they were the ones that believed in me.

“The program itself is definitely something that helped me improve as a physical swimmer. SIU was so good for me and they really meant a lot to me and that’s why this process was so hard. I’m very thankful for the opportunity SIU has given me.

“The reason why I’m leaving is not that I don’t believe in the program it’s because I need more fast racing and people who will push me day in and day out, and not just pushing myself against the clock.”

Van Renen says that he’s looking for a training group that can push him as an individual both in the NCAA and internationally. While he didn’t name any specific teams that he’s eyeing, he did say that he’s looking for programs with backstrokers at his level to push him – which is a pretty short list nationally. Other schools with non-senior backstrokers who scored at the NCAA Championships include Cal, Florida, Arizona State, Notre Dame, Tennessee, Purdue, Texas, and Stanford.

“Obviously the goal is to make Paris 2024 and jumping into a new program is a huge risk, but I’m willing to take it on and make it successful,” he said.

“I’ll be ready to work hard and show people what I can do.”

Entering the transfer portal doesn’t require an athlete to transfer; rather, it gives athletes the freedom to connect with coaches at other schools about transferring.

New rules this year limit the window in which a student-athlete can enter the transfer portal in swimming & diving to 60 days after NCAA Championship invites are announced. While we are less than halfway through that period so far, the new change seems to have had the impact of dampening the portal, as only a few high-profile D1 swimmers have entered the portal so far.

That window does not apply to swimmers seeking graduate transfers.

Van Renen, who turns 20 in May, has three years of eligibility remaining.



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2 months ago

UVA picked up Grimm, hoping Ruard looks at UT.

2 months ago

why do i have a gut feeling hes going to cal

2 months ago

SMU getting their next great backstroker

Cal fan
2 months ago


2 months ago

Make no mistake, RVR was not an outlier for SIU’s program. It’s going to hurt to lose him, but anybody that’s followed the team’s rise in the last four years under their new coaching staff knows that they’re more than capable of recruiting and developing major talent. If you need an example just look at SwimCloud… they turned a 21.4 sprinter out of high school into a 19.6 sprinter in just TWO years!!! SIU will be back at NCAAs in the very near future, and I hope any prospective athletes reading this consider a future as a Saluki!!

Demarrit Steenbergen
2 months ago

Come to Brazil. Or U of M

Reply to  Demarrit Steenbergen
2 months ago

This shouldn’t have a single downvote

2 months ago

I get it, but I’m still a sad Saluki reading this.

Wise guy
2 months ago

He’d be a great fit at miami (oh)

Reply to  Wise guy
2 months ago

Will unite with his fellow South African Duvenhage

lil swimmy jr.
Reply to  Wise guy
1 month ago

There’s no way he’s going to stay at a mid major school with his talent. The only mid major schools that would be fast enough for him are like maybe UNLV.

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder/co-owner of He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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