SwimSwam Pulse: 62% Think Stanford Women Most Likely To Unseat NCAA Champions

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 which team has the best chance of upending the reigning NCAA champions and winning the national team title this March:


Question: Which team has the best chance to dethrone the defending NCAA champions in 2022?

  • Stanford women – 62.8%
  • Cal men – 28.0%
  • Other – 9.2%

The poll asked readers if they think it’s more likely that the Stanford women take down Virginia to win the 2022 NCAA title, or the Cal men take back the national crown from the University of Texas. There was also an “Other” option, which over nine percent of voters selected.

Both the Cardinal women and Bear men were reigning NCAA champions for two full years after the cancellation of the 2020 meet, having won the 2019 team titles.

Stanford won its third straight title two seasons ago, with the Cal women finishing in the runner-up position all three times. The winning margin in 2019 was by far the smallest of the three, with the Cardinal prevailing by just 38 points on the Bears.

For the men, Cal ended Texas’ four-year run in 2019, winning the meet by 85 points.

Last season, Texas and Cal finished 1-2, in either order, for the seventh straight championship, with the Longhorns regaining the crown by 37 points.

On the women’s side, Virginia, which finished sixth in 2019, stormed to the 2021 title in dominant fashion, topping runner-up NC State by 137 points. Stanford, on the other hand, plummeted down to ninth place following the departure of several top swimmers and other big-name freshmen redshirting the season in order to focus on the delayed Olympic Games.

But now, the Stanford women are back in full force, reloading with the likes of Regan SmithTorri HuskeTaylor Ruck and many more blue-chip prospects, while returning multi-time NCAA champion Brooke Forde as a fifth-year senior.

As a result, 62.8 percent of readers selected the Cardinal as being more likely to regain the NCAA title on the women’s side.

The UVA women have notably lost Paige Madden, who won three individual titles last season for 60 points, but they do bring in stud sprinter Gretchen Walsh, who has already been 21.6 flat-start/20.9 on a relay in the 50 freestyle this season.

The Cal men received 28 percent of votes, having come incredibly close to winning the title last season. The Bears do bring in a strong recruiting class, led by freestylers Jack Alexy and Robin Hanson, but so does Texas. Cal is also losing 60-point scorer Ryan Hoffer who was a driving force on their relays as well.

The Longhorns will return their top 10 individual scorers from last season’s NCAAs.

The Bears also bring back a few top-tier fifth-years in Trenton JulianDaniel Carr and Sean Grieshop, but it’s clear voters are more bullish on Stanford’s chances.

If you were one of the readers that voted for “Other” in the poll, let us know who you think has the best chance to unseat the defending NCAA champions in the comments below!

Below, vote in our new A3 Performance Pollwhich asks: Who would you favor in an NCAA 200 free final after Matt Sates’ 1:40.6 SCM swim in Berlin?

Who would you favor in an NCAA 200 free final?

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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.

The A3 Performance Poll is courtesy of A3 Performance, a SwimSwam partner.

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1 year ago

The poll question is seriously flawed. Where is the choice of “Neither?” In addition, those who voted for Stanford Women or Cal Men did not say they WOULD overthrow the reigning champs; instead, they said they had a better chance than the other one does. Presumably, those who voted “Other” believe that some other team has a BETTER chance of winning than either Stanford Women or Cal Men….but, again, that doesn’t mean that they think they will. These are just some thoughts about polls, critical reading and critical thinking. And to be sure I get a maximum number of down votes, my money is on UVA Women and Texas Men to retain their crowns.

Swim mom
1 year ago

I hope so

1 year ago

Why isn’t God an option for the new question? He does still have the record.

Joel Lin
Reply to  Willswim
1 year ago

Ditka. Maybe close since the heart attack, but I’m taking Ditka versus God.

1 year ago

Conservative back of the envelope calculations for Stanford’s stars:
Huske and Smith = 45 pts each (90 total)
Forde and Ruck = 35 pts each (160 total)
Relays= 120 pts (280 total)

Question is then can their other team members help make up the 200 or so points to catch Virginia’s total from last year given UVA pretty much reloaded on all of their losses. I think Stanford has the talent on their roster to get those points it just a question if they can get back to how they swam as a team at the 2017 PAC-12’s or 2018 NCAAs.

Reply to  swimswamswum
1 year ago

Way too conservative. Relays if they avg 3rd place is 160. Individually those 4 should be 5-10pts higher each but I agree they still need others to perform. Pretty sure they have enough to get there if they execute.

Joel Lin
Reply to  Taa
1 year ago

The math doesn’t work for Stanford.

  1. Both teams have an incredible top-line of stars who are lockdown A finalists & likely top 3 finishers in 3 individual events each. Both are likely top 3 finishers in all 5 relays. That is a huge pile of points for both Stanford & UVa, but it papers up to be an offset barring injury or unforeseen things. The “stars” point production is a push.
  2. Both are, to put it politely, not going to out score the other or most others in diving. It’s a push.
  3. The NCAA meet is basically going to be decided by the points production from swimmers #6 on the depth of the NCAA roster on down. UVa
… Read more »

Reply to  swimswamswum
1 year ago

Forde was at 40 last year, 43 in 2019. Ruck was at 50 in 2019.

It’s all in the great crystal ball, of course, so let’s add another 25 individual points on, plus give them another 40 relay points.

That puts them at 345.

Virginia scored 491 at NCAAs last year. So does Stanford have another 150 in them?

Only 3 other returning individual point scorers from NCAAs besides Forde:
-Wheal – 11
Lenz – 3 (diving)
Raab – 3

So not a lot of help there.

Let’s be generous and give the rest of their returning qualifiers 30, because of COVID stuff.

So that leaves them with another 100 to go from:
-Lauren Burch (bigtime… Read more »

Reply to  Braden Keith
1 year ago

you are just going to ignore Paige Madden not there?

Reply to  Taa
1 year ago

No. I’m going to assume that the addition of Gretchen Walsh and the Olympic silver medalist in the 400 IM Emma Weyant are going to roughly offset the loss of Paige’s 60 individual points + 2 relay swims.

Gretchen’s PBs are roughly 35-40 points at NCAAs, and her sister got better in her freshman season at UVa. Emma’s are worth about 35.

Accounting from a few points from Kyla Valls and Caroline Gmelich, I think it’s pretty safe to project Virginia being ‘about as good’ as they were last year, don’t you?

Joel Lin
Reply to  Braden Keith
1 year ago

Also notable UVa has several additional NCAA a finalists in individual events returning not mentioned above. Of course Stanford has brought in great swimmers, but UVa’s forecast involves less projection. They are several returning individual scorers not mentioned, A finalists in all the strokes (breast might be UVa’s deepest event & neither the Walshes, Douglass or Weyant compete them at NCAAs) & in IM (seems preposterous everyone ignore the returning NCAA runner up & OT finalist from UVa here). Virginia’s depth this year is absurd.

Again, the top liners are spectacular for both UVa & Stanford, but the roof is 60 individual points & a contribution on 4 relays. In this regard Stanford’s top tier strength is offset by UVA’s… Read more »

Last edited 1 year ago by Joel Lin
Coach Macgyver
1 year ago

Less interruptions going into this season and a solid freshman class. Stanford will knock UVA down.

So confused
Reply to  Coach Macgyver
1 year ago

Agree as long as it stays the way it is now with almost no Covid restrictions on campus.

1 year ago

Texas/ Cal is almost too close to call

Dicky V
1 year ago

Women’s NCAA’s are going to be AWESOME this year baby!!!! Hard to believe but Hoos relays will be even faster without Madden and I love their energy! UVA by 21. Take it to the bank baby!!!

So confused
1 year ago

I think it’ll be Stanford for not only the win but will crush UVA.

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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