Swimulator Mid-Season Title Predictions

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
California 351.5
Tennessee 282.5
Virginia 263
Michigan 242
NC State 234
Georgia 211
Stanford 191.5
Southern Cali 185
Texas 165
Auburn 103
Louisville 68
Indiana 54
Texas A&M 32.5
DI Men 2020 Mid-Season
Texas 695
California 381.5
Michigan 304
Texas A&M 282.5
Arizona 203
NC State 189
Indiana 180.5
Missouri 172.5
Arizona St 139
Florida St 105
Alabama 77
Tennessee 62.5
Stanford 47
Florida 16

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
California 351.5 285.5 394.5 109 406
Tennessee 282.5 251 250.5 -0.5 282.25
Virginia 263 47.5 163 115.5 320.75
Michigan 242 319 307.5 -11.5 236.25
NC State 234 211.5 211.5 0 234
Georgia 211 95 69 -26 198
Stanford 191.5 299 419 120 251.5
Southern Cali 185 237 188 -49 160.5
Texas 165 309.5 141.5 -168 81
Louisville 68 208 205.5 -2.5 66.75
Indiana 54 175 162.5 -12.5 47.75
Texas A&M 32.5 133 141.5 8.5 36.75
Auburn 103 67 166 99 152.5
DI Men 2020 Mid-Season 2019 Mid-Season 2019 Final Adjustment Prediction
Texas 695 433 376 -57 666.5
California 381.5 509.5 524 14.5 388.75
Michigan 304 237 295 58 333
Texas A&M 282.5 141 112 -29 268
Arizona 203 137 99 -38 184
NC State 189 262 284.5 22.5 200.25
Indiana 180.5 199 295 96 228.5
Missouri 172.5 183 163 -20 162.5
Arizona St 139 70 44.5 -25.5 126.25
Florida St 105 67 56 -11 99.5
Florida 16 130.5 222 91.5 61.75
Alabama 77 134 149 15 84.5
Tennessee 62.5 163.5 122 -41.5 41.75
Stanford 47 201 82.5 -118.5 0

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.

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Lane 8
2 years ago

Nice analysis. Maybe we could do something similar closer to NC’s and implement noise, like we did in the ISL prediction?

Reply to  Lane 8
2 years ago

Ran a simulation with everyone best times from 2018-2019 season and this year (added Hugo’s times from 2018 with predicted improvement)

Estimated diving points and relay lineups for the contenders. Gave Cal benefit of the doubt wherever possible.

Texas wins by 12

2 years ago

Are you going to also do write-ups for D2 and D3?

Speedy PG
Reply to  hungarianflynasty
2 years ago


2 years ago

Stanford women are an interesting anomaly, It’s going to be TOUGH for them to repeat this year

Former Longhorn
2 years ago

An important note that wasn’t mentioned is that Cal was without Hugo Gonzalez and Zheng Quah at their mid-season meet. Those two will account for a lot of points at NCAAs. With that said, Texas swam extremely well at their mid-season meet (I count 21 Texas swimmers bettered last year’s invite times) and Cal didn’t blow anyone away with their mid-season result. However, it’s all about the NCAAs and Cal returns 379 points (removing seniors) vs. 288 points for Texas. Last year, Cal’s performance at NCAAs was outstanding. Almost everyone swam very well. Texas had mixed results. Some very good swims and some disappointments. Yes, Rooney, Corbeau, and Jiang are new and should help make up the deficit, but Cal… Read more »

2 years ago

Everyone is sleeping on UVA hard…

Reply to  swimming
2 years ago

No one is “sleeping” on UVA. These are literally unbiased numbers from this season so far.

Samuel Huntington
Reply to  swimming
2 years ago

I think everyone agrees the women look really good, perhaps top 3. And everyone agrees the men are not at that level, they will be lucky to be top 10. What are we sleeping on?

2 years ago

It’s been a busy fall for me, so I haven’t been paying too much attention to NCAA stuff… I did not expect that Texas would look so dominant after last year. Is it just the timing of Cal graduating a lot of scorers and Texas having a really strong group of underclassmen?

Reply to  sven
2 years ago

It appeared like Texas got more rest at their mid season meet than Cal did. Many Texas swimmers were going best times while I don’t think Cal had any. It should be a lot closer at NCAAs when both teams are at their best.

Reply to  ArtVanDeLegh10
2 years ago

Reece is that you?

Reply to  sven
2 years ago

sven – Texas had a much better performance, head-to-head, than Cal, even if we boil it down to “swims versus best times.” So, to this point of the season, Texas is just swimming better. The two teams are within spitting distance of each other in terms of talent, so I think it’s going to come down to who has a good meet at NCAAs and who doesn’t – nobody’s going to overwhelm with talent and miss a taper and get away with it, which has happened a few times in recent memory.