The Biggest Men’s NCAA Midseason Risers and Fallers

Last week, we scored out a hypothetical NCAA meet based on midseason results, with the defending champion Texas Longhorns holding a commanding lead. Now we take the next step in the analysis: who is firing on all cylinders so far this season and poised to climb up the national rankings in March? Who has some work to do in the spring semester to match last year’s performance? What national-level swimmers have some ground to make up over the next two months? We dive into the data below. 

As a reminder, projected points include swimming only and do not account for diving points. 

Welcome (Back) to the Party

School 2022 Projected 2021 Actual
Arizona St 335 0
Harvard 91 0
Auburn 56.5 0
Northwestern 34.5 0
Penn 29 0
Pittsburgh 15 0
UNLV (M) 9 0
U.S. Navy 6 0
SMU 5 0
Princeton 4 0
Brigham Young 2 0
GWU 1 0
Grand Canyon 1 0

Let’s call it what it is: 2021 was a weird year and swimming wasn’t spared from the weirdness. One of the biggest storylines of the year was Bob Bowman’s decision to redshirt his entire roster for the 2020-21 season, and the Sun Devils have made their presence known in their return to competition. Arizona State currently sits in second behind Texas in projected points, with a lethal combination of big relay points and individual stars, including freshman Leon Marchand

The other major player to return after a season without competition is the Harvard Crimson, led by superstar Dean Farris. Farris, who won the 2019 NCAA title in the 100 back and 100 free before taking an Olympic Redshirt in 2019-20, returns to lead the Crimson one final time, while junior Umitcan Gures currently holds one of the fastest times in the nation in the 100 fly. 

Team Score “Risers”

Updated to reflect swimming points only. 2022 projections based on scoring current national rankings.

2021 Swimming Points 2022 Projected Increase
Michigan 106 212 106
Southern Cali 21 112.5 91.5
NC State 164 254.5 90.5
Indiana 166 232.5 66.5
Alabama 91 143 52
Stanford 85 132 47
Texas 512 546 34
Florida St 32.5 62 29.5
Wisconsin 8 26 18
Georgia Tech 40 53.5 13.5
Missouri 84 96 12
Tennessee 13 25 12
LSU 32 34 2

The Michigan Wolverines, who finished in 12th at last year’s NCAAs are the biggest risers halfway through the NCAA season and are projected to double their point total. One of the big reasons was a DQ of last year’s 400 free relay, which hurt their final point total. The other major impact has been freshman Israeli Olympian Gal Groumi, who is projected to score 43 individual points with the 4th fastest 100 fly, 5th fastest 200 fly and 5th fastest 200 IM in the nation this year.

Also flashing some midseason speed are the USC Trojans and NC State Wolfpack, who both project to add over 90 points to last season’s total. The Wolfpack get a huge boost from Nyls Korstanje, who returns to Raleigh after an Olympic Redshirt and projects to score in multiple individual events as well as elevating the Wolfpack’s relays. USC, meanwhile, returned both of their individual scorers from last year in Nikola Miljenic and Alexei Sancov and have picked up major relay projected points after not scoring a single relay point at last year’s NCAA meet. 

Team Score “Fallers”

Updated to reflect swimming points only. 2022 projections based on scoring current national rankings.

2021 Swimming Points 2022 Projected Increase
California 568 327 -241
Georgia 268 60 -208
Louisville 211 15 -196
Texas A&M 151 11 -140
Virginia 152 23 -129
Florida 356 284.5 -71.5
Virginia Tech 135 75.5 -59.5
Arizona 106 71 -35
Ohio St 106 93 -13
Purdue 31 18 -13
Pittsburgh 28 15 -13
Notre Dame 29 17.5 -11.5
Minnesota 40 32 -8

Two of the biggest fallers were impacted heavily by illness this fall. The Georgia Bulldogs, fresh off of one of the program’s best men’s seasons in history culminating in a 4th place NCAA finish, swam their midseason invite without NCAA champion Jake Magahey, while US National teamer Luca Urlando also missed a day of the invite with a non-COVID-19 illness. The Louisville Cardinals, who finished just behind Georgia last year in 5th, have battled COVID-19 issues within their program this season and were missing huge chunks of their roster at their midseason invite.

Despite a significant projected decline from last year, the Cal Golden Bears still sit in third in projected points. They weren’t hit by illness midseason, rather two of their top swimmers, Trenton Julian and Hugo Gonzalez, skipped their mid-season meet to prepare for the Short Course World Championships.

The loss of superstar sprinter Ryan Hoffer to graduation hurts and will likely impact their relays some, but the Bears still have plenty of firepower on this roster. Couple that with head coach Dave Durden being one of the best in the business, and our bet is that the Bears will be ready to roll in March as they prepare to wrestle with the Longhorns again. 

Two other programs currently project to take 100+ point hits from last season. Texas A&M took a surprise step back with 3-event NCAA champion Shaine Casas deciding to go pro and leaving College Station for Austin, which takes huge individual points as well as high-end relay potential off the table for the Aggies. The Aggies are also likely hurt in this comparison due to their historically strong diving program. 

The other program with some significant ground to cover in the spring is the Virginia Cavaliers. UVA has been on a quick rise since Todd Desorbo took over the program in the fall of 2017, but are currently project to score 129 points less than last year’s 9th place finish. Transfer Matt King hasn’t yet lived up to the hype, while sophomore sprinter Matt Brownstead missed a portion of their midseason invite. 

Big Names Missing

Name School 2021 Points
Frankel, Tomer Indiana 18
Wright, River Michigan 8
McDaniel, Hudson Ohio St 7
Pouch, Aj Virginia Tech 6
Franzman, Jack Indiana 5
Dannhauser, Joshua Wisconsin 5
Tornqvist, Samuel Virginia Tech 5
Dixon, David West Virginia 5
Mefford, Colby California 4
Eichberg, Dylan Virginia Tech 2
Gadgaard, Mikal Auburn 0
Andreis, Sem Ohio St 0
Roberson, Will Penn St 0
Ercegovic, Marin Arizona 0
Manoff, Blake Virginia Tech 0
Walker, Jack Virginia 0
Curley, Hayden Louisville 0
Knowles, Eric NC State 0
Barone, Kyle Georgia Tech 0
McDermott, Colin Ohio St 0
Somerset, Sebastian California 0
AL-WIR, Amro Florida 0
Daly, Michael Penn St 0
Abruzzo, Andrew Georgia 0
Heasley, Ethan Texas 0
School 2021 “Missing Points”
Indiana 23
Virginia Tech 13
Michigan 8
Ohio State 7
Wisconsin 5
West Virginia 5
California 4
  • Tomer Frankel (Indiana): Tomer Frankel is the best returning swimmer not currently projected to qualify for the NCAA Championships. Last year, Frankel won the B final in both the 100 and 200 fly, posting 45.23 in the 100 and 1:40.68 in the 200. Frankel’s top times this season sit at 47.08 in the 100 fly from the Ohio State Invite and 1:44.12 from IU’s dual with Cincinnati. 
  • River Wright (Michigan): Michigan junior River Wright was a major player for the Wolverines last year, finishing 15th in the 100 fly, 11th in the 100 free and swimming legs on Michigan’s 200 and 400 free and medley relays. Thus far this season, however, Wright has only competed in Michigan’s season-opening dual meet against Oakland University, where he posted a 20.82 and 45.48 in the 50 and 100 free, respectively. A Michigan swimming representative told SwimSwam that “River was unfortunately unable to travel to the Minnesota invite but is an active member of our roster.” 
  • Mikkel Gadgaard (Auburn): Last year as a freshman Gadgaard finished in 20th in the 500 and 21st in the 200 free for the Tigers after qualifying at a last chance meet. His 500 best time of 4:12.80 would have qualified him for the B final at last year’s NCAAs. Gadgaard holds a season best of 4:18.37 at the Georgia Tech Invite, which currently puts him outside of qualifying range.


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10 months ago

Minnesota’s projection originally at 40, which I presume was McHugh winning both breast events. Now projected at 32 points. Does that mean McHugh now only projected to take 4th in each event (on average anyway)? If so, that feels …. off.

Reply to  SwimFan49
10 months ago

Again, these are not crystal ball predictions. They are based on actual times swum this season and where they rank.

Max is currently the #2-ranked 100 breaststroker and #4 ranked 200 breaststroker in the NCAA. Scored as results, that’s worth 32 points.

10 months ago

Leon will beat Carson at NCAA

10 months ago

Glad to hear River is still working out with the team. I hope if it is academics or another issue… that it gets worked out. Wolverines need Danny Berlitz to help out their Distance crew as well… and he has been MIA this year.

Reply to  #MFan
10 months ago

he transferred to west virginia

10 months ago

You should list the 2021 projections as well. Since some programs consistently outperform early year projections…