SwimSwam Pulse: 57% Pick Urlando Over Foster For #1 Junior Recruit

SwimSwam Pulse is a recurring feature tracking and analyzing the results of our periodic A3 Performance Polls. You can cast your vote in our newest poll on the SwimSwam homepage, about halfway down the page on the right side, or you can find the poll embedded at the bottom of this post.

Our most recent poll asked SwimSwam readers


Question: Who should be the #1 recruit in the boys class of 2020?

57.1% of voters picked Luca Urlando as the #1 junior recruit in the country, compared to 42.9% picking Carson Foster.

We published our updated recruit rankings about two weeks ago, with Foster holding the #1 spot. However, those rankings referenced Foster’s superior sprint free times, and came out just days before Urlando popped off lifetime-best 50 and 100 free times at his high school section meet. With Urlando now holding better sprint free times (and therefore better value on the 200 and 400 free relays), the battle becomes a lot more contentious – and if we were to re-rank this week, we’d probably say the same things voters in our poll did.

While Foster was by far the more notable name several years ago, Urlando has taken a surge in popularity after his big long course performances last summer. Urlando probably has momentum on his side after a year of massive drops (though Foster continues to drop time himself), and Urlando does seem to have overtaken Foster in fan notability.

The two are remarkably similar, and most NCAA recruiting discussion ultimately comes down to subjective factors: how much improvement one projects for each athlete, how different events are valued, how fast the rest of the recruiting class or the rest of the NCAA is in a particular event, etc. Here are some purely by-the-numbers breakdowns of the two:

USA Swimming Power Points

Here’s a look at the top 10 times in NCAA individual events from each swimmer, ranked by USA Swimming Power Points. (Note: these are age-dependent, so swims from when the swimmers were 16 get a relative bump compared to swims from age 17). It confirms what’s a pretty good distinction between the two: Urlando seems to have the superior speed in his top events, while Foster is more versatile and has a wider range of high-level events.

Luca Urlando Carson Foster
Event Time Power Points Power Points Time Event
100 back 45.66 1099 1074 1:42.54 200 IM
200 IM 1:42.99 1074 1065 1:40.07 200 back
200 fly 1:40.91 1074 1035 46.28 100 back
100 fly 45.62 1054 1032 3:40.86 400 IM
200 back 1:42.11 1035 1010 1:32.99 200 free
400 IM 3:49.58 996 990 53.31 100 breast
200 free 1:34.38 990 986 1:56.53 200 breast
100 free 43.23 955 977 1:44.11 200 fly
50 free 19.88 919 947 4:20.21 500 free
200 breast 2:02.05 917 934 43.61 100 free

Times in Common Events

Here’s a look at the events both have in their top 10, plus the relay-distance freestyles (where they both project to contribute in college). Each has three superior events. You could make an argument that Urlando’s 200 free will come down to Fosters level when he contests it again, considering Urlando is 1:47.7 in long course and Foster 1:48.5.

Luca Urlando Carson Foster
1:42.99 200 IM 1:42.54
1:34.38 200 free 1:32.99
43.23 100 free 43.61
19.88 50 free 20.11
1:42.11 200 back 1:40.07
45.66 100 back 46.28

2019 NCAA Scoring Times

Here’s a look at the events in which each would have earned an NCAA Invite had they been college swimmers in 2019, plus how their times would have fared at NCAAs. Foster scores half a point more, but Urlando has the only A final appearance:

Luca Urlando Carson Foster
Event Prelims place Finals place Points Points Finals place Prelims place Event
200 fly – 1:40.91 8th 6th 13 5 12th 12th 200 IM – 1:42.54
100 fly – 45.62 16th 14th 3 7 10th 9th 400 IM – 3:40.86
200 IM – 1:42.99 15th T-15th 1.5 6 11th T-12th
200 back – 1:40.07
100 back – 45.66 21st 0 0 17th
200 free – 1:32.99
17.5 18

Ranks Among 16-17-year-olds over past two seasons

We ran a report in USA Swimming’s database, pulling the top times among 16- and 17-year-old boys over the last two seasons (from September 1, 2017 through May 14, 2019). Here is where they both rank in their best events – we only included events in which one or the other ranked inside the top 10, with the exception of the 50 free, which gets some extra relay significance. “N/A” means they didn’t rank inside the top 250 of our report:

11th 50 free 30th
7th 100 free 15th
7th 200 free 2nd
2nd 100 back 5th
4th 200 back 1st
N/A 100 breast 9th
1st 100 fly 65th
1st 200 fly 6th
2nd 200 IM 1st
153rd 400 IM 1st

Rate of improvement over past two years

We can focus in on each swimmer’s NCAA invite events from above, tracking the % change (with the formula [new time – old time]/old time) to see who is dropping faster in their top events. That appears to be Urlando, who dropped at about two-and-a-half percent across the board this year, while Foster only dropped closer to a percent per event.

Luca Urlando Carson Foster
Event Sophomore Junior % Change % Change Junior Sophomore Event
200 fly 1:43.55 1:40.91 -2.60% -1.2% 1:42.54 1:43.79 200 IM
100 fly 46.70 45.62 -2.3% -0.4% 3:40.86 3:44.16 400 IM
200 IM 1:46.69 1:42.99 -3.50% -1.6% 1:40.07 1:41.66 200 back
100 back 46.83 45.66 -2.5% -0.8% 1:32.99 1:33.76 200 free


Below, vote in our new A3 Performance Pollwhich asks voters which of this weekend’s major meets they are most excited for:

Which meet are you most excited for this weekend?

View Results

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A3 Performance is an independently-owned, performance swimwear company built on a passion for swimming, athletes, and athletic performance. We encourage swimmers to swim better and faster at all ages and levels, from beginners to Olympians.  Driven by a genuine leader and devoted staff that are passionate about swimming and service, A3 Performance strives to inspire and enrich the sport of swimming with innovative and impactful products that motivate swimmers to be their very best – an A3 Performer.

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Ward Huijskes
3 years ago

I still think Carson Foster is the going to better college athlete. He has more potential in the individual events and the difference in the 100 and 50 freestyle isn’t that big between them and in Carson’s best events he is way better than Luca. I feel like Carson has instant potential for 4 indi titles vs Luca’s 3, which ultimately makes him worth more points.

Sidenote: Do you guys realise both Carson and Luca have better 200 and 100 free times than Townley Haas at their age? I realise that Townley was more of a 500y swimmer at that time, but still. He was a freestyle age group phenom and Carson is over 2 seconds faster in the… Read more »

Raymond Woods
3 years ago

Depends on the needs of the school

3 years ago

I think we are also overlooking the fact that Carson doesn’t have a “weak stroke”. His “slowest” stroke is breaststroke where he goes a 53.3/1:56.5, which are times that would get you recruited to a D1 program. His 100 and 200 fly times are also dated. I think he would take the cake.

3 years ago

Anyone else see the Phelps and Lochte resemblance? One is a backstroke the others a crazy butterflier but they over lap in the 200im. Don’t say that you can’t compare Luca to Phelps but just think about it.

3 years ago

I would be kind of curious to take like the past few classes of high schoolers coming in and see how they would rank against classes now

3 years ago

Why not both?

3 years ago

Carson has a 42.67 400 free relay split in Speedo Southern Premier. http://results.teamunify.com/sepac/

3 years ago

These guys are both ridiculous. I know it’s wrong to always be looking for “the next Jordan” . . . But these guys can swim everything, They’ve got the LC chops to be international stars . . . Sure feels like Phelps-Lochte 2.0

About Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson swam for nearly twenty years. Then, Jared Anderson stopped swimming and started writing about swimming. He's not sick of swimming yet. Swimming might be sick of him, though. Jared was a YMCA and high school swimmer in northern Minnesota, and spent his college years swimming breaststroke and occasionally pretending …

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