Now that we’re halfway through the NCAA swim season with all the mid-season taper meets complete, we should have enough info to use the Swimulator and get a good picture of how the NCAA DI title races are shaping up. The Swimulator aggregates all the top in-season times and then predicts an invite-style meet based off of the top results in each event. It respects team and swimmer event limits and tries to reasonably select events for swimmers entered in multiple. It doesn’t include diving results. Top NCAA teams typically score 80-90% of their points from swimming as opposed to diving, so missing diving results typically only affects close meets.
Shown below are the swimulated results for the top 10 men’s and women’s teams based off of top times thus far this season (12/22/2019).
|DI Women||2020 Mid-Season|
|DI Men||2020 Mid-Season|
On the women’s side, The University of California has a solid lead, but there are a number of teams clustered close behind. We don’t appear to be in a repeat of last year’s tight title competition between Cal and Stanford as Stanford has dropped off considerably from where they were at this point last season. While we shouldn’t consider the race to be wide open with Cal clearly the favorite, there is still much yet to be determined.
The men’s side is much clearer. Historically, Cal and Texas have finished 1-2 in nine out of the past ten seasons (Michigan won in 2013) and this season is no exception. Texas has a commanding lead thus far in the season due to their dominant showing at the Minnesota invite. Last season, Texas was narrowly defeated by Cal to deny them a historic 5-peat. Mid-season rankings from last year (more on that in a minute) showed Cal with a narrow edge as well. Texas’ lead this season is a lot to overcome – especially after taking their strong diving team into account.
To use these results to predict the end-of-season results, we’d like to try and take into account teams that tend to taper more heavily during the mid-season invites from those that taper less. To do so, we’ll take a look at where the Swimulator predicted NCAA teams after last year’s mid-season taper meets and how those compared to how they finished at the end of the season. Of course there will be variability is individual’s swimmer’s performances from meet to meet, but that is much more difficult to account for.
Shown below are the 2020 mid-season swimulations, 2019’s mid and end-of-year swimulations, the adjustment from mid-season to final results, and the 2020 predictions based off of 2020 mid-season swimulation and the adjustment. To account for some regression to the mean in terms of tapering, I halved the adjustment points when calculating the final point predictions. For teams that have gotten a lot faster or slower, this adjustment may no longer be that accurate (I think that Stanford’s men’s team will likely end up with more than 0 points).
|DI Women||2020 Mid-Season||2019 Mid-Season||2019 Final||Adjustment||Prediction|
|DI Men||2020 Mid-Season||2019 Mid-Season||2019 Final||Adjustment||Prediction|
The top men’s teams tended to have small adjustment factors on the whole – meaning that their mid-season tapers were pretty consistent with the end-of-year tapers.
However, on the women’s side, Cal, Virginia, and Stanford all improved considerably from mid-season to the end-of-year last year. With the adjustments, Cal now shows a even more sizeable lead, with Virginia in second behind them. Even with a strong end-of-year finish, the losses of top swimmers Ella Eastin and Taylor Ruck is a lot for Stanford to make up from last season to consider them in the title hunt.
The top team rankings on the swimulator use a similar adjustment to the one described above. The Swimulator’s rankings have Texas with a strong 76% title chance followed by Cal with 20% on the men’s side. For the women, the Swimulator predicts Cal with a solid but not dominant 40% title chance at this point in the season.
We of course have much of the season left to swim. Keep updated with the Swimulator’s rankings as the season progresses. The rankings are updated daily, but with the mid-season tapers all complete they should be fairly stable until the conference championships in February.