We’re less than three weeks removed from 2016 Women’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 Women’s NCAA season.
Below is a chart with the top 15 women’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.
Overall, the top six teams in the standing are remarkably stable heading into next season. Georgia (116 points) and Cal (78) are losing hefty totals to graduation, but the two squads were also tops in the “points lost” list last season, as well, with 107.5 and 120 points, respectively. Stanford and Virginia each lost a key piece–Sarah Haase for the Cardinal and Courtney Bartholomew for the Cavaliers–but both squads are well-positioned moving forward (particularly Stanford). USC and Texas A&M, the fourth and sixth place teams this season, lose almost nobody of relevance from a points perspective.
Moving a bit down the list, however, and the picture is a little shakier for some teams, with seven of the next eight teams needing to replace at least five of their NCAA relay swimmers, and three teams (Indiana, Louisville, Michigan) graduating 20%+ of their total points.
(“Points Lost” refers to individual points, including diving. The totals include 2015 relay points.)
|Teams||2016 points||Points lost||Percent lost||Returning points||Returning NCAA relay swims|
There’s plenty to take away from the raw numbers, but here’s what stuck out to us most:
1. Stanford is loaded next year
The Cardinal fell short last month, but are graduating just 45 points and three relay swims (primarily from All-American breaststroker Sarah Haase), and adding arguably the two most valuable swimmers in the NCAA in Simone Manuel and Katie Ledecky. Throw in versatile freshmen Katie Drabot and Allie Szekely, and Stanford is undoubtedly the early favorite. A wrench could be thrown in the Cardinal’s plans, however, should Manuel or Ledecky choose to go pro (unlikely, but it’s worth calling out), or none of their breaststrokers develop
2. Watch out for Texas A&M
Zero. That’s how many individual points the Aggies are graduating this year. Steve Bultman and his staff proved yet again that they are one of the nation’s best programs at developing athletes, and with another year of continuity (including 19 of 20 relay swims returning), things are looking good out of College Station.
3. The Pac-12’s top four is the country’s best
We covered Stanford above, and Cal isn’t going anywhere anytime soon (especially with incoming redshirt Abbey Weitzeil, and the potential return of Katie McLaughlin), but we can’t overlook USC and Arizona, who both look like they’re going to have bright futures. The Trojans should contend for a top three finish next season; they graduate just 7 individual points, and are bringing in two of the nation’s top five recruits in Stanzi Moseley and Becca Mann. Arizona finished twelfth this season with an incredibly young team, graduates just two individual points, and is bringing in a solid class, as well.
4. Louisville and Georgia hit the hardest by graduation
Both the Cardinals and the Bulldogs have to say goodbye to more than 25% of their points. Despite losing less than half of what Georgia graduates, Louisville will likely have a harder time recovering, as 55 individual points came from Kelsi Worrell, who, in addition to becoming the fastest short course yards butterflyer in history, was also the relay key for the Cardinals. Georgia will definitely feel some pain without Hali Flickinger or Brittany MacLean, but they do get All-American sprinter Chantel van Landeghem back from her redshirt year.
5. Wisconsin is our non-top 15 team to watch
The Badgers finished just 21st this season, but return at least three of four relay swimmers on each relay (including their #1 sprinter Chase Kinney), and are bringing in the nation’s top sprint recruit (Beata Nelson) and distance star Cierra Runge.