SwimSwam Pulse: 75.5% Think Virginia’s 2025 Recruiting Class Is Better Than Cal’s

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.

Our most recent poll asked SwimSwam readers which 2025 recruiting class is better: Virginia or Cal?

Question: Men and women combined, which team has the better recruiting class for 2025?


  • Virginia – 75.5%
  • Cal – 24.5%

In mid-September, the Cal Golden Bears raised eyebrows when two of the top three recruits in the girls’ class of 2025, #1 Alex Shackell and #3 Claire Weinstein, committed to head to Berkeley in two years’ time.

The two commitments came on the same day, and sparked hope for what could very well result in a return to the top of the heap after a couple of tough years for the Bears, falling out of the NCAA’s top 10 last season for the first time since 1996.

The Virginia Cavaliers then dropped a bombshell just over one month later, announcing five commitments in their men’s class of 2025, spearheaded by #1 Thomas Heilman and #2 Maximus Williamson.

And while it may appear obvious to some that Heilman and Williamson alone make UVA’s class better than Cal’s, we have to take into account everyone else currently committed to get a full scope of things.

Cal’s Ranked Commitments

Virginia’s Ranked Commitments

There’s no doubt both classes are absolutely stacked—not to mention the fact that both schools have impressive incoming classes for 2024—but more than 75 percent of readers picked Virginia, which is hard to argue with.

Not only are Heilman and Williamson the top two ranked recruits, but they’re two of the most talented junior swimmers in the U.S. we’ve seen in some time, and the Cavs also have two more ranked in the boys’ 12 and two top-eight girls.

Cal still garnered nearly a quarter of the votes, with Shackell and Weinstein joined by #13 Elle Scott on the girls’ side to go along with three top-20s for the boys.

It’s also worth noting that the Bears might’ve picked up some votes given the fact that female swimmers tend to be able to enter college and make an immediate impact, while boys tend to peak later and take further development—which is always unknown under a new coach—before becoming bonafide individual scorers.

For example, Weinstein is significantly faster in the 500 free than the time it took to win last year’s NCAA title, while Heilman (200 fly) and Williamson (400 IM) currently only have one event apiece where they’re fast enough to make the 2023 NCAA ‘A’ final. But by the time they head to Charlottesville, there’s a good chance they’ll be favored to win individual titles as freshmen, given how rapidly they’ve developed on the national scene.

Below, vote in our new A3 Performance Pollwhich asks: What is the best event to add to a dual meet to make it more exciting?

What would be the most exciting event to add to a dual meet to spice things up?

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.

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

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11 days ago

I am amazed you don’t understand how the boys mature and progress …. Thomas and Maximus are like Michael Phelps ….. your analysis is just awful on these wonderkinds!!!! They are amazing ….. and you question stuff … in 4 years please come back and say your analysis is a bafoonery

1 month ago

ik this is not related but is noone going to talk about luka mijatovic going 8:55.41 in the 1000 yesterday

1 month ago

Missing Cosgrove and Aquino

1 month ago

Cal also has BOTR recruits Gracyn Aquino (sprint) and Ella Cosgrove as ranked recruits in their class, in addition to the huge commitment that isn’t announced yet (O’Dell?)

cynthia curran
Reply to  SwimmerTX
1 month ago

Well, you know something I don’t since i thought because Kozan and Hodges went to USC she might consider USC.

ACC fan
1 month ago

Skins and super finals is one reason why “in general” US distance swimming is lacking.

Lisa Simpson
Reply to  ACC fan
1 month ago


IU Swammer
Reply to  ACC fan
29 days ago

Yep, the Italians are so good at distance because they don’t allow any sprint focus.

1 month ago

Might need to update this real soon

1 month ago

Shows the power of the come and build a dynasty” pitch. If these recruits just wanted to go and have the best chance to win NCAAs, the genders would be flipped.

1 month ago

this definitely feels too soon, but at the moment it’s uva, but by like a hair

also skins and super finals would be good additions for dual meets

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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