We’re less than two weeks removed from 2016 Men’s NCAA Championships, but–even with Omaha and Rio around the corner–college swimming fans know it’s never too early to start looking ahead to March. To satiate your appetite, we’ve ran some very early numbers for an early glimpse at the 2017 Men’s NCAA season.
Just as we put together in our women’s post yesterday, below is a chart with the top 15 men’s teams from this season’s NCAAs, along with how many of their points will be vacated by departing swimmers, and how many relay swims each respective team is returning.
The big picture: as of now, most of this year’s top ten teams are in great spots next season, while the next five are a little shaky. Cal loses the most points to graduation (thanks the likes of Josh Prenot and Jacob Pebley), but is bringing in a loaded recruiting class next season to balance it out. The Longhorns rolled over the field the last two seasons, and have at least one more year from each of their four most important pieces (Will Licon, Joseph Schooling, Townley Haas, Jack Conger), as well as another pile of NCAA individual scorers. Georgia and NC State also lost key athletes, but the Bulldogs get Chase Kalisz back next season, and the Wolfpack are bringing in maybe their best class ever.
(“Points Lost” refers to individual points, including diving. The totals include 2015 relay points.)
|Rank||Teams||2016 points||Points lost||Percent lost||Returning points||Returning relay swims|
There’s plenty to take away from the raw numbers, but here’s what stuck out to us most:
1. The Longhorns have a Texas-sized cushion
A three-peat on the way in Austin? The ‘Horns ran away with the team title last month, essentially locking up the meet before the final day even started, and are graduating just 57.5 points. The scary thing? It was far from a perfect meet for Texas. Sure, Townley Haas, Joe Schooling, and Will Licon were great, but Clark Smith was way off, and their supporting class was merely “good”.
So how could Texas be up-ended? Well, for starters, the Longhorns don’t have a recruiting class in the same realm of Florida (who is bringing in Maxime Rooney) or Cal (three top-ten recruits and two more from 11-20 in our rankings). In addition, while we’re merely speculating without even any substantial rumors, we can’t rule out the possibility of swimmers turning pro, with Singapore national Joseph Schooling being the top candidate.
2. Florida continuing to move on up?
It’s been a pretty solid three years for the Gators, with their third straight top five finish, primarily driven by a really young team. Seniors Pawel Werner, Arthur Frayler and Corey Main were all individual scorers this year, but only Werner scored more than ten points, and Main was the only one on multiple relays. With Caeleb Dressel and incoming freshman Maxime Rooney as the core of the team for the next two seasons (assuming Dressel swims collegiately all four seasons), the Gators are in the hunt for their first top two team finish since 1985.
3. NC State and Alabama aren’t going anywhere…
Well, at least next year. Both schools are bringing most of their pieces back, particularly the Crimson Tide, who graduate zero NCAA points, and just three relay swims. Give newcomer Laurent Bams and the massively-improved Luke Kaliszak another season, and the Tide are in the mix for more than one relay next season. NC State will have to replace the great Simonas Bilis, but between Ryan Held, Soeren Dahl, Andres Schiellerup, Joe Bonk, and Swedish Junior National Teammer Daniel Forndal their sprint group will do just fine.
4. … and neither are Indiana, Missouri, or Louisville
Three more programs who have continued to take big steps in the right direction this season, and bringing back virtually their entire respective NCAA scoring teams. The Hoosiers tied for their best team finish since 1979 behind a much-improved sprint group, almost entirely at the hands of underclassmen. They also get a pair of All-American divers (Michael Hixon and James Connor) back from redshirts next season. Missouri saw what their women brought to the table and bettered it with their best finish in school history. And if there were any remaining doubters of the Louisville men hanging around long-term following Joao De Lucca’s graduation, they’ve probably finally been convinced otherwise.
5. Michigan, USC, and Stanford are giant question marks heading into next season
All three programs majorly underachieved in Atlanta last month, and have uncertain futures moving forward. Michigan lose their two best swimmers to graduation this spring (Anders Nielsen and Dylan Bosch, who also accounted for five combined relay spots), and while they are bringing in one of the country’s best recruiting classes, there are no instant-mega-impact pieces along the lines of Maxime Rooney.
We knew this would be a bit of rebuilding year for USC following a slew of graduations and redshirts, but the Trojans still majorly under-performed, scoring a whopping 22 total points across five relays (and coming up empty in three of them). Most of the swimming roster is back next season (their graduating points are divers), and their freshman class may just need another year of seasoning, but the recruiting pipeline has just one top 20 swimmer coming in next season, and it’s been indicated that Santo Condorelli may not be rejoining the team next season.
Stanford, meanwhile, fell all the way down to 14th place, marking the fourth-straight season the program has finished outside of the top 5 after 31 straight years in the top four. Just one individual point is lost to graduation (and their incoming recruiting class is one of the nation’s best), but they still have a massive sprint freestyle hole, which won’t get any smaller after losing a pair of seniors off of their 200 and 400 freestyle relays (though the return of Tom Kremer will definitely help).